Saturday, December 5, 2009

It gets easier

I studied most of the day. When I wasn't studying I ate a wee bit too much. I made bacon and a cheese omelet for breakfast and baked potatoes with cheese, sour cream and butter for lunch.  I think I am making up for it with a salad for dinner. Though me thinks some dessert may be in order. OH well, its a weakness.

Finally after 5 I got on the trainer and did 40 minutes at high L2 power and finished with 5 minutes at mid tempo. I am happy to say I am adapting to the trainer so that "maybe" when its time to do long tempo and threshold efforts I can do them.  Some guys can go just as hard on the trainer, some even higher than the road. I am not one of them.

Now the question is when do I start ramping it up? I signed up for four classes next semester so I think I am gonna have to be very efficient with my time. These one hour Power, power sessions will have to be good ones. But it is getting easier as it does every winter.

I am also going to do a few of the popular (with my friends) Computrainer races in my basement this winter. Price to do them?  Some beer, food if you like-what else!! They are a lot of fun and now I have better audio/visual in my basement. You could say the man cave is coming along.  I'll let everyone know on my facebook page when the first one will be. And everyone who doesnt train with power gets a kick out of the power they put out. Those of who do train with power are usually amazed at how much power our friends put out. Its all fun.

Monday, November 30, 2009

OH Junior!!!

When I was in Chicago this summer at the USA Cycling Cat. 2 coaching clinic I met one of the other coaches who trained junior triathletes. He was quite loquacious, but the one thing I remember most was that he could always tell children who trained (especially ran) with their parents. He could pick them out because they ran slow.

Sean Gilbert put that comment into perspective tonight when he said that we've got plenty of time to get slow. Kids should be fast, run, run free...ok digressing.  The junior triathlete coaches words have rung loud and clear in my ears ever since the clinic. Younger athletes shouldn't be de-trained to ride 4 slow hours. It makes a lot more sense for them to put on that junior gear and be fast in shorter, age appropriate races.

Then I am talking to Jason Halloran before the Chagrin CX race and get this exciting email from Tom Humphrey who is director of the Spin/ RR Donnelly racing team. They are looking for a coach for their junior development squad of 5 riders. All under 18 years of age. The plan is a great one. Develop young local talent with the support they need from parents, coaches, bike shop and of course sponsors. Develop them to first be fast young athletes who can race their bikes, prepare them for collegiate success (and possibly some scholarship money at cycling friendly universities) and finally prepare them to be Cat.1's for teams like RGF and hm, hm, Carbon Racing to pick up for regional racing.

I can reflect back to when I got started racing in college. I hadn't ridden a bike since elementary school. I dont recall owning a bike in junior or senior high. But one day I borrowed my room mates Nashbar road racing bike with Suntour (it looked so amazing to me then). He slammed the seat down into the frame and I rode and rode and rode. Then a friend gave me this behemoth steel bike with cantilever brakes that was easily 8cm too big and I rode and rode that bike. Further and faster by the day. My point of all this was in my day there was no collegiate racing and I certainly didnt have a coach. My coach was the Lemond book!! I basically got fast, fast and eventually dug myself a crater from over-training I never got out of it till I quit racing and riding in 1992. All lessons learned and to be applied later. Sure it sounds like the "I never made varsity, but my son will!!" sort of thingy, but I assure you it is not.

So I do my best to contain my raw enthusiasm to just have the chance to coach the team. I fret for weeks then I hear Ive got the job. I am now waiting for the first meeting where I explain my dastardly plan to the sponsor and parents. Brooo, hahaha (think adult Goob in The Robinsons). OK, my plan isnt dastardly at all, but thanks to a loquacious coach from Illinois I have a solid direction to go in and I cannot wait to start.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I have been intentionally putting on the brakes. I have pretty much let all the "race" fitness go and have traded it for longer endurance rides and cross training. But I have tried my best to have a no junk miles policy in place.

No junk miles means I try and ride easy, but at the top end of endurance pace on the flats and downhills. And surprisingly that pace after 2 to 2.5 hours is quite tiring. The plus is that I burn more calories then if I didn't pay attention.

The hard part will be this weekend at the Kirtland Park Cyclocross race. No hard riding in weeks then POW, all out for an hour.  But it will be fun. And I will probably be slow.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

180's, reflections and future thoughts

One of a few pet peeves of mine is doing 180's in training rides/runs. I always try and do a loop and only in cases of closed roads or a turn onto a busy/fast road, etc make me turn around. But today I made an exception because I  got to the the bottom of Oak Hill at Everett (the Covered Bridge race course) and had to climb it. I had never climbed it and it looked steep so I did the dreaded 180 and went up. Oak Hill did not disappoint and I hope we get to do a race using it someday. I didnt try and go fast, but even if I had it would still be a slow grind to the top.

I was pretty much guessing on today's route as I played hookie from my daughter's dry land camp at the Ledges on Truxell.  I got on the State road race course from an early 90's or late 80's edition. In those days the State race was a big deal and you could qualify for the National road race which qualified you for the Olympics. The race started in a cold rain at Boston Mills. Before we were far along my Cat.2 team mate (I was a Cat.3) comes screaming that 6 Cat.1's had escaped right from the gun and we chased like mad to no avail. He dropped out in frustration and I almost quit from overheating till I could strip off the tights, jackets, arm warmers, etc.

114 miles later and 4:45 I came in I think 8th and they took only the top 7 from our State. I was devastated, especially since the guy who beat me had no intention of going to Colorado for the National road race and took a tow off of an enclosed trailer on the last lap only miles from the finish and gapped me. We had been in a long 2- person break up till that point. I recovered (or was just that mad) chased to the line and after 114 miles I remembered I spun out in a 53x12 and flew by him, but after the finish line. I recall I was screaming a line of obscenities at the top my my lungs as I finished.

But the few times I ride down there I always remember that race. I dont recall much before or after that race or even  the year, except that if I had made the National Road Race I was going to go. I was in my early 20's at the time and not making Nats I recall helped make my decision to pursue work instead of trying my hand at racing as a profession.

I have also been thinking about having my own Cyclocross race in 2010. I would like to have it in the Heights somewhere.  I have put a lot thought into the course, but not really much about how to go about getting the land use, etc.  The business end of it. Some fun elements will be a F1 course style grass fields with long sweepers, chicanes and multiple UCI barriers (some possibly in the middle of a chicane or out of a tight corner). I want riders to have to choose to dismount before the corner or ride around it one foot out.

Also the course would have brutally hard sections (ride-able uphill grass or dirt and a sled hill or stair run-up if those elements are available) split with technical sections that wont be as anaerobic followed by hard sections again. This way racers can attack the hard sections, recover and attack again. 

As for training, I am getting back to basics and have started endurance rides again. I am taking a short break from intensity and will start to ramp up the wattage soon. I am having trouble deciding if I want to try and push or pull for the LT work. if i push I basically ride just below LT for longer intervals till a power level becomes "easy".  Then at the first big event or break out ride the idea is to race hard and blow away the old LT wattage.  Then the new LT wattage becomes the one to ride just below.

The other idea is to do shorter, higher than LT wattage intervals with more repetition. So instead of say 2x20 or 1x45 Push LT interval I will do 8x5 at 105% LT. The idea is that by going a bit higher than LT you pull your LT up. In the end I think I will end up trying both styles as I consider myself to be my own test lab. And what works for one person may not work for another.  I may respond better or just find that more short intervals is easier to complete (mentally more than physically) than one or two long intervals. Or maybe one works better on the trainer and one is better suited to outdoor rides.

And getting back to Peninsula, wouldnt a ~40km TT course using Riverview and Akron-Peninsula be awesome? No 180's and fast wide open corners to make one big loop.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Chagrin River Sunday edition

I'd like to start by saying it was good to line up to race. Its been a few weeks, but its seems like forever. In that time Ive been busy with school, work and life in general. It all has to fit together and right now the lowest priority is racing.  But I am still in good shape and I am staying fairly light and usually eating well. But as us racers know, there is fit and then there is race fit.

Rewind to this am and trying to get my very sore, tired body out of bed.  I hurt all over from taking the roof off of a dilapidated garage in the hood yesterday.  My back and neck hurts and my ribs Still hurt, but I chose to ignore them and hope I dont hit the deck today. But this day starts with Audrey time as it should. Like those late Cross start times for that.

Finally I get coffee and head downstairs and i cannot get the geared bike quite right so I prep both bikes and load up. When I finally head to the race I am feeling those slight jitters. I keep thinking about how I havent been doing my technical practice since my geared bike bit the dust at Forest Hills park. And how much power will I have at this race that I did  very well at last year on my SS? And will I finally get a good start or should I just start in the back and bag it?

Well the race starts and I get an OK start again. Were lined up then all heck breaks loose by the river and I get smart and hop off and run past some guys then get  slowed as someone falls and losee the spots just as fast. From there I am with Ehrlinger, Steiner, Zak and a bunch of others. We go back and forth in a fun battle. Whats funny on lap one is when I hit the only hard dip to negotiate for the first time and I hit it going way, way, way too fast and it was like a brick wall when my front wheel hit the face.  Next lap I braked a lot harder and it went a lot smoother. I learned to slow, roll in and then sit back when I hit the face and pedal out. When I did that it all worked out. I was 90% successful.

I pass my group eventually and get ahead of Zak, but he gets rolling and gets me back. I chase Zak as he chases down Derek. We finally get by, but he and Ehrlinger hook up behind me and  are not more than 50' behind. And then one lap and i dont know if Zak sped up or I had a slow lap, but I am no longer sea sawing from a few seconds behind to almost on his wheel.  And then I seal my fate by botching the ditch again by trying to go too slow and have to dismount and hes gone and John and Derek get real close. But in the distance hes going after Jeff Craft and I am gong after Zak and John and Derek are coming  after me. Its one heck of a fun battle.

As for me? Well the SS is geared 42x17 and coming out of all of the slow sections and 180's my back is screaming in pain. I try and ignore it, ride standing up straight (not very powerful or aero) to stretch it but it really makes it hard. The worst was out of the 2nd singletrack  and up the slippery slope.  Sprinting there really hurt. And all the dips and corners in the singletrack made my arms get tired. That was an odd feeling.  Though that could have been as much from the work I did Saturday am.

Back to the race. The effort to catch Jeff plays in my favor as it allows me to gap John and Derek. I am sprinting like mad out of every single corner, through the singletrack and the gaps coming down the last two laps. I get real close to Jeff and have a little bobble and the gap opens. I close it again and can see from his body english hes going harder than ever. I come super clean through the off camber, through the river and close the last gap by sprinting pretty much from the river to the singletrack entrance and try and dive under Jeff right before the entrance to the singletrack or its race over for me. But he knows I am coming and takes a fair line to block me and I enter behind him. I bobble somewhere that I didnt have any problems before and hit my knee (nice red rash on it now), but keep chasing.

I have to put the brakes and put a foot down for a split second in the pine trees for a chicken too. And yes I did just say a chicken!! But hey, were visitors on their land so the chicken gets right of way. But no matter, Jeff has the gap and rode the last section fast so he deserved that spot we were racing for.

So I guess its good to know though I wasnt as fast as usual I fought to the very end and really hammered out the last 5 laps. Trying to catch Zak and Zak and I are trying to catch everyone we can see took some effort.  And being chased the whole race by John and Derek (and they got real close a few times too).  Great racing you guys!!  I have no idea when I can race again, but I do hope to able to line up a couple more times at least.

In the meantime I am going to try and take it a bit easier when I can ride for a few weeks and then start ramping up the watts as I get ready for 2010's racing season. And now I desperately need to take my tired self off to bed as soon as I can. I am exhausted and tomorrow we go back to get more trash and finish demolishing the garage in that flea infested house. Its a charmed life I lead these days!! But family and racing today certainly helps me to stay positive. And nice chatting it up with you guys and gals after the race.  Nothing like bench racing, drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon in your skinsuit, legs covered in mud.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Beating the winter blahs

Think about distraction!!

The folks at Global Ride hooked me up with a copy of their Giro D'Italia inspired cycling DVD. This one has portions used in the 2009 Giro D'Italia's epic TT. My initial thought was to set-up my Computrainer and run it in its general exercise mode and change resistance as the video gorgeously captured climbing up the 30 minute Pignone to Paradise climb.

But as time wouldnt allow me to set-up the software in my Mac's Windows OS partition I used my trusty and leg busting Kurt Kinetic Road Machine. The DVD warm-up is a collection of pictures of architecture and sights in Italy. I watched a bit then skipped chapters to the Passo del Giro which I used for warm-up.

The Passo del Giro was the portion used in the 2009 St.12 TT. The camera work is very steady and uses a nice combination of head-on (first person) shots at realistic road speeds, side glances of the beautiful countryside as well as shots of the actor/riders. What I liked was how well the slope of the roads was represented and how shots to the side and behind let you know the grade so you could simulate it in your efforts. Though I personally think they should hire a skinny dude from Cleveland Heights to do the climbing videos!!  I'd work for Gu and Cliff bars!! And yeah, I'm just kidding.

For those who may be newer to cycling or riding a trainer I let my rpm drop a bit as the roads got steeper and hit the big chain ring and went up the cassette (21>19>17, etc). Its not truly realistic as increasing the load of a trainer, but a KK trainer is fluid and not variable. But it feels like real climbing to me.

Had I been on the Computrainer I could change resistance and actually go down the cassette (19>21>23, etc) in the small chainring.  But in the end it doesnt matter. What matters is that I was totally distracted from the blahs of the basement and was engaged on the roads and riders. When the passed I accelerated and when the videographer passed the riders in the video I also attacked.

Another nice touch to get you in the "race" mode was the pre-ride course profile. All I needed was Phil Ligget laying out the days sufferage. There were also choices of coaching or no coaching, music or no music. I chose the music and no coaching the first go round. For me the music was awesome on the PIgnone to Paradise climb. An upbeat electronic mix that kept you pushing on the pedals all the way to the top.

The last riding portion included a steep switchback climb also in Italy of course. I cooled down for that, but it would be an awesome 10 minute interval if you included it in your ride. The music was a mix of original modern rock tracks for this chapter.

Like Ebert I give it a thumbs up simply due to its ability to distract you and immerse you in the riding and getting your mind off of the fact that your in your basement. A very clear picture and steady camera work, choices in play (sound, no sound, etc.) and a 30 minute free yoga workout at the end are the icing on the cake.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Only on Sunday

I got my Dieringer Single Speed built back up last night. I had to ride it right away so I put on some lights and wore my hiking headlamp just under the rim of the helmet. Hit a big enough bump and I bet there would be a comedic moment. But it worked for the installation run.

The very first thing I noticed was how ridiculously big the 42x17 gear feels. Same feeling as 2008 when I raced it in the entire Lake Effect series. I am riding down paved and flat Fairmont and cant seem to get up to a comfortable cadence. By the time I do I am starting to sweat and my legs are burning.

Also for me a good warm-up for a race is cadence oriented to some degree. I like to spin till the legs are warm, do some efforts then spin till the start. So I cannot even warm-up on the SS. Unless I want to ride around at 40 to 60 cadence. So last year my CSK geared bike got relegated to warm-up and commuting.

I bring this up because I was hoping to do some CX practice tomorrow evening at Brett Davis' parent's house where the Halloween races are being held again. I might bring my mountain bike and the SS so I can get some comfy laps in  and then ride the cross bike for maybe one or two race laps. Why not be like most who have SS bikes and just ride it?

My thinking is that I am only willing to ride it full wood on Sunday because with that gear the bike is fast as heck, but it also takes some serious motivation to ride. Why? Because it hurts like a mother to pedal that's why. Its like Cross on PCP. Your  balls to the walls until your lungs, back, legs or a combo of the three gives out. 

I know what your thinking. Why not put a 19 on it and quit whining!!  Well, I have thought about that many times, but what if what makes the bike fast IS the 17 tooth cog? On a side note I have been racing my geared bike on a Dura ace 12-27 cassette because its light and i dont need a 27 on a road bike. So its light and unused.  But I cant tell you all the times I have been in the 27 this season when last year I made do in the same kinds of situations in a 17!! Wanna guess if I was faster in the 27 or the 17? hmmm....makes me think...could it be the gear? Maybe, but only on Sunday (ok Saturday sometimes too).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

No racing today

Why would I miss my favorite cross race of the year? Call it a perfect storm. I broke my geared cross bike, I had a final exam last week, didnt rebuild my SS Dieringer and had a huge week of hard work.  This is not an excuse, but I rode once all week too. Thursday I ate a nasty am/pm burger (made with more chemicals than beef I swear)I was so hungry and by Friday I was eating candy bars to get through the day. My coworker had to eat my last Reeses Cup because he looked like he was going to fall sleep standing up.

But the real reason (or the biggest excuse) is that Thursday working outside (again) in the rain I was standing on the door sill of the Silverado to grab the circular saw when both of my wet boots slipped and I slammed my right shin (that right shin thats got a lump on it) into the door sill. This was the 5th time in two days and now when I hit my right shin it puts me on the ground laughing my ass off and in pain. I think I had tears in my eyes on that last one!!

It hurt so bad that I didnt even notice I had slammed my ribs into the plastic toolbox on the seat. That evening I started to feel it and Friday morning it hurt. Saturday morning I could really feel it so I got out of bed and tried running in place and I could tell I couldnt hold a bike and run up that sled hill. I sort of cramped up as I ran.

So why not race anyways and walk up the hill? I am willing to race hurt and give up some performance. Well its a case of getting the best bang for the buck. I simply cannot justify the entry fee, gas and wear and tear on the equipment to race hurt these days. And I am also worried about crashing and being in more pain. I had a few crashes there last year.

But I want to thank Robert Sroka for offering me his bike for the race. I am gonna really regret this decision, but I think its for the best. YOu must admit life at idle is pretty boring compared to while racing!! Not that it doesnt have advantages, but you racers know what I mean.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Training and not training

Last Sunday I got a free pass to ride so I got dressed fast and took off on my trusty road racing bike. First time on it since Tamarack. And boy did it boogie, woogie down the road. I had my power meter and just kept on the gas pedal for an hour and twenty minutes. Then I did some 30 sec intervals and one sprint with nice recovery between.

This by itself is not that big of a deal, but I am continually amazed at how well some parts of overall performance stay with you if you can at least race cross 3 or 4x a month and maybe one hard ride a week. It goes against what many think should be a goal of the end of road season which is to just take it easy, ride for fun and enjoy. It was darn good ave power for an 1 hour ride for as little training as I have done.

But when  training is very hit or miss I react by going into an emergency modee. Meaning that when I can ride I try and ride pretty hard. And thats because my next ride might be 3,4 or 5 days away. This may work for me because my work is so physical. Some days are literally like a weight workout for 7 to 8 hours. Not aerobic or structured. Just heave, lift, pull, drag and carry heavy stuff up steps, into the box truck or throwing things into a dumpster.Then because of not having time for a ride when I get home I'll do weights and core for 20 or 30 minutes.

Why this works is because I am not in a state where riding hard is traumatic on my muscles because of work. And it just feels so good to get the HR up and go anaerobic, (huff, huff, huff, huff, sweat, burning in the muscles). In my mind  I feel like I am putting in efforts like what I will be in the race. Even though its hard to go that hard in training!!

And its hard to go that hard in training for long periods when your tired and not in that "trainer" mode day in and day out. So I make my intervals short with more repeats. Whatever it takes!!  

This winter will be a bi of an experiment too. LIke in 2007 I'll be on the trainer a lot I hope. I'll be doing weights all winter and the occasional run to "bang the bones" as I like to put it. Cross country skiing will be fun, but unlike last year I wont be looking for opportunities to ski. I'll be on the TT bike on the trainer or outside riding.

Ive got lots of stuff saved on the dvr for training rides and a DVD coming from to try. Maybe I ought to have more than one TV show I like (Fringe) so more media for the trainer? BAH, Ive got the Computrainer too. Lots to keep me going this winter and of course the motivation to come out strong for Presque Isle and the Spring races with my team mates on Carbon Racing.

My point being that if you dont think you have time to train, but like to stay fit, then train even harder, but shorter. Dont forgo a warmup and be sensible, but dont make the excuse that your out of shape so only ride slow and easy when you can to not be sore. And switch it up with even shorter core workouts. I love those too.

Oh and an update on my poor CX bike? well I put it in the bike stand on Sunday. And...that's it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A little bad luck

Just moments after stopping to clear off a walking bridge full of branches I rode over a little branch that was full of leaves. My rear locks up so I look down to see if the leaves got up in the brakes and see my derailleur on top of my cassette still attached to the bike. Not good.

The damage is a bent hanger and a bent cage on the derailleur. Wouldnt be a problem except I have to find the hanger. I hope Seigler Imports has them in stock as I bought it from them in 2007.

In the meantime I hope i can get the compound bends out of the hanger and cages in time for Cross My Heart. If not I'll get the SS ready to race as well.

What a bummer to have this happen when Ive got so little time to work on bikes and no budget to fix anything. Ooops, I am whining again.

See ya at Spin!! I just hope they dont have the uphill off-camber 180 again cause that was a bitch on the SS last year.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Photo credits, blogs and a little story

New header photo is from my friend Kelly Mikolajczyk also know by justkelleh on her blog. I do so love photography and great pictures.

But I think most photogs (artists?) will admit a great picture is just there. Its up to you to snap the shutter and not screw it up. Its the not screwing it up part thats hard. I had a day at the Cleveland Zoo this summer that was like that. Every picture looked great and I captured animals in cages that could almost have passed for in the wild. I'd love to take credit, but it was just one of those days.

Not that I am taking anything away from all of the great people who capture cyclocross this and every other season. But youve got to admit that cross is by far the best form of cycling to capture on film. Great pics are everywhere. Fomr the suffering on our faces to the textures in the grass and mud and the emotions wore on the arm warmers of every competitor that's giving 110%.

I have also been trying to add local bloggers to my sidebar so please feel free to nav to other racers and friend and see what they have to say.

I got a funny email about cross yesterday. A friend had said he isnt trying hard enough in cross because he never feels ill afterwards. I am sure many guys who win cross races dont feel I'll, but after a hard, hard, hard race on a tough course I do feel pretty rotten most of the day. Doesnt stop me from trying just as hard the next week though I wish I didnt feel so bad.

But he said now he knows just a bit what its like to be me after a race going as hard as he could and having a bad stomach for a few hours. Thats not really something to asppire to, but it is funny to me and I am proud of him for giving it so much effort as a cross newbie.

But havent you seen those guys who can smile and hold a conversation while riding past you as you cheer them on. They will tell you all kinds of stuff mid-race in a conversational tone. Me? I cant even find the energy or time to grab a water bottle. I'll occasionally try and acknowledge some cross hooligan cheering because its so awesome that people cheer us on. But that probably looks like a nervous head twitch and bad gas more than a smile and a nod.

But hey, its cross and all that that implies. Fall, mud, tasty beers, riding your ass into the ground and cheering your friends on are just a few. I do so love cross even if all I seem to do is complain about it. I will tell you I find complaining anymore as the release I need from stress, etc. SO sorry now if I sound like I belong in an old ladies sewing circle than a hardcore bike race.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I'll eat that last post

I complain a LOT nowadays. Its about all I do is bitch on Twitter and now on my blog. But after seeing pics and seeing the Race Results I am flabbergasted that I raced myself from possibly about 26 to 28th back to 10th. Holy friggen crap. I caught guys that got the hole shot and then were top 5 on lap one by the end of the race.

There is still the problem that I ALONE put myself in that position. I bet if I change my dismount just a bit I wont catch my shorts on the saddle.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Leroy CX..a debacle on my part

I'll start with a positive then its all downhill form there, I can really feel a big improvement in cornering when its slippery. I am starting to feel how to move my body around a bit and keep pedaling through some pretty thick, gooey mud. I am no John Page and never will be, but its something to be positive about.

So I pre-ride and say to myself, this course lacks some excitement and "fun" stuff, but that's understandable because the Vrooman course is dead flat. No off cambers, short hills or Pain climbs. But I believe it suits me just fine. Muddy, long stretches and not too technical. Wont be as much fun as say Wendy Park, but should be a good course for me. OK, that's two positive things.

I line up on the first row and take off without any drama and kick it hard, but damn, here I am back, WAY back before we even get past the dog leg. So I buckle down and drill it up the empty middle and then say out loud "UH-OH" and Jeff Craft tells me later he thought it cant be good when a rider says "UH'OH" in the middle of the field. I am heading for the concrete block and luckily Doan Brook MTB riding takes over and I bunny hop it to Bill Maruts cheers. haha.

We get to the singletrack and I tried to get past the horde in front, but it bottle necks and we come almost to a stop. I come out and chase like mad all the way around the course and I am starting to see the familiar body shapes way in front of me. I am flying in certain sections and HATE the fact I may catch them, but will be fried from the effort when I could have been WITH them and used those matches to help chase the next rider up the road or gap them. Not for 18th, but 5th...get the picture? Frustrating.

Then maybe as early as lap2 I come to the dismount and I catch my skinsuit on the tip of my saddle and me and the bike go down. I get up, run, drag my bike sideways over the barrier, remount, pedal and no drive. Dropped chain. I keep trying to pedal to see if it picks it up because its laying on the third eye, but no go. Dismount, reach down to wrap it completely or else the crank will roll back and unwrap it. I learned that at Edgewater. This is a case where a double would have helped. I dont know how many, but more than 10guys go past before I remount. And I hadnt made it to the top 10 yet I dont think before this. This is not good and I know it.

I get that "who gives a shit" attitude for a half lap as I play the I'm muddy and cold card till I start to see guys I can catch. I chastise myself and get going. I pass a lot of guys. I even pass a group of 5 in a pack at the start finish where I am at my best on this course then its catch slowly catch them one by one.

When I start to catch Steiner I follow his grass line past the wheel pit instead of my wide arcing line from gravel to grass and assuming I'll have more grip I lean without braking and my front washes out and feels like it was covered in grease its slides out so easily. After the race Baldesare who kicked ass (and was a great MTB rider in the early 90's) and I talked and we agreed everytime you try and corner a CX bike like a road bike you end up smacking the ground..hard. I banged my right shin hard and got a big bump. I chase and then get into a good battle with Aussie Rob who out sprints me out of the single track. I get out of the saddle past the ball diamond and bleachers and gun it and go past. I bobble again at the ditch. I lost count ahow many times I screwed up, but few in traditional ways (slide out, crash, over cook a corner, etc)

I see 2 to go from Lynn and can see one Lake Effect (John Proppe) and Cameron from RGF about a 100' ahead. Cameron passes John and John counters and starts to put time into Cam. I dont really register this or assume Cam will re-catch John. Either way I want to pass them both on the bell lap, but I bobble again at the ditch and lose some valuable real estate. But I finally get close to Cam around the concession area. he slides coming out of the right hander after the picnic area and collects it before hitting the wood fence and now I am right on him. I attack out of the left hander around the two 90 deg right handers, Hes obviously popped as he lets me go but John has already passed the start finish line. So I got one of them and what a last lap by John.

I guess it turned out ok in the end. I got to practice muddy cornering, raced guys head to head all race long, but overall it was a day filled with silly, but time consuming errors. I need to practice of all things getting my chain back on and starts couldnt hurt either. And i had problems in areas I didnt really have an issue with last year like coming out of ditches (they were a lot slipperier this year). Not that any of them cost me that much time, but combined they did since there were so many. Now I have to have a really good race in two weeks so I can score some good points.

And possibly the biggest challenge is many of the guys are heading to Cincinnati for 3 days of racing while I am here barely riding. I guess I just have to buckle down, find some motivation to push really hard this week when I can cause all them guys will be flying for Spin Cross your Heart. And a big thanks to Kevin and crew for putting on the race again. It was a disaster for me, but that IS cross racing! I could make an analogy to my entire 2009 (racing and life), but that would be two too many negatives for one day.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

ok, I'm scared..


of this dude. Steiner gets this crazy ass look in races too. Is it the beard? is it? If so I want that look. All I ever look like is "I'm dying..."

One hard ass race!

Matt Turi really had a nice canvas to lay out a great course and he did not disappoint. It was fun and challenging with UCI height barriers and perfect placement. And the weather was picture perfect cross. Overcast, a bit cool and raining. The ground was soft enough that we got some mud and puddles.

The course suited me really well with the long grassy sections and the long hill before the tricky, but fun hill section that reminded me of the late Broadview Heights hill. But it all comes down to the start and I really wanted to be aggressive this week. I got a great start, but let myself get shuffled back a fdew guys and that ended up putting me out of the top 15 of about 40 starters. I was kin of upset till I looked at who was right in front of me. A lot of fast guys and it remained like that for a few laps.

I was acclimating to the technical stuff and trying to be fast, but conservative and remembering to use proper technique. In the end I was just cautious, but I got away without any crashes and after last Thursday that was a good thing as I was still sore to the touch in spots.

My early race was chasing down Halloran, Brent Evans, Rudy, Chris Mahew and Ernesto. You know your in the fight when you can see just up the grass Shawn, Ernesto and Tony. Too far to realistically catch, but you keep trying.

Catching Chris and Brent was brutal. It took pulling extra hard across start finish, up the hill to the first set of barriers and especially up the long grinding hill. But after catching them and going back and forth I think the steep hill in this picture ended up being a big decider. I was able to climb it on the bike 5 of the laps and they started running it earlier.

Robert Sroka picture

Then Rudy came by and started to ride lines that just put me to shame. Everytime around a tree or down a hill into one of the slippery corners hed pull more and more and more gap. He had a good 10 seconds going into the bell lap and I started chasing hard and taking a few more chances. I had a scary moment around the brick wall corner when my front washed out and I got an eyeful of brick wall, but somehow got through upright. I pushed hard after the barrier and short run-up and closed the entire gap on Rudy on that one hill and got right on his wheel. I should have ridden past to force Rudy to follow me down and up the hill because he made it on lap 6 and I had to unclip the last 2' to the top of the hill.

But I stayed right on his rear wheel and even overlapped it up the hill, but my rear wheel slipped once then twice and Rudy smoothly rode up and got the gap he needed from there to the off camber. I went extra cautious so as not to fall so I could chase him down all the way to the finish. But Rudy would have none of it as I went balls to the wall down to the 180 in the little pocket of trees, up the hill and around the screaming CX fans in te final 180 (what a simple but awesome corner) and to the start finish and didnt make a dent in his lead. Way to go Rudy!!

Wow, what a race. This competition and effort in cross has its unique appeal. Its so damned hard and unrelenting. When you race someone and put time into them if you dont keep pushing 110% your sure to hear them coming back on your wheel and sometimes even fly past as Jason Halloran, Scott Gartman, Chris, Rudy and Brent all did to me. But I suppose I did it right back to them as well.

You might be surprised to read I literally rode myself into the ground and physically i'll for the rest of the day for 11th and you know what? It was a glorious and hard fought and I am proud of myself. IT was an awesome course and I had the hammer down my entire 58 minutes. The competition from the gun till the bell was fierce and I am improving like last year. My dismounts and remounts were so much better than Wendy park.

Thank you Stark Velo for a well run event and Lake Effect (Lynn Marut) for that little pep talk everytime through start finish. It comes form my heart when I say you guys (and gals) mean so much to me personally and to the local racing scene. Keep it up.

It has begun!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

1,2,3, YOUR OUT!!

Bad day riding in the trails. I dont know why, but it was just awful. First I went off the grass into loamy dirt and my front wheel washed out and I body slammed myself. That was #1.

Then I was climbing a twisty, rocky area that tops out going around a tree stump. As I wrapped the stump my right shin caught a broken downed tree limb and going full force on the pedals it stopped me cold. That hurt so bad I couldnt pedal right for a long time. 2nd blood drawn.

Then I cleared two hard descents I sometimes have problems with and felt I was back on track. Yahoo!! Then I had some minor spills of varying amounts of pain.

Then the doozie. I was in a rock garden and was riding an up and down area when I didnt carrry enough speed to clear a rootie, rocky bit and I went off the back of the bike and when I stopped hitting boulders and whatever I pushed the bike off of me, pulled my knees in and hugged myself super tight before the full onslaught of pains hit me. And I do mean pains. Forearm, back, hamstring, legs...ouch...I am glad no one came by at that point. I bet I looked like I wanted to cry.

What the hell was that all about?

On the bright side yesterday I went to Edgewater to do the Wednesday training ride. Cameron and I took the holeshot and rode off the front the whole race on a fun course laid out by Justin Picorelli. And on the very last lap Cameron attacks me by the highway stretch and I cover it and am on his inside to the run-up and I drop my chain (for the first time ever in a CX race) and he gets to ride away uncontested for a final sprint. OH bummer. But it was good to have some form after very, very little training lately.

And I didnt crash once at Edgewater even with the drop-off by the stairs. I guess I was just putting it in the bank for today.

Damn do I have some serious aches and pains. Tomorrow morning should suck hardcore.

Monday, September 14, 2009

It was this close

Thanks to Kevin Kimmich for this shot. This is the race for 9th with Brad, Rudy and myself. Man I LOVE racing bikes.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wendy Park 09/13/09 buzz in my throat.

Robert Sroka
Robert Sroka
First I want to thank the Team Lake Effect Crew for again starting off the cyclocross season with a bang. I really like this course. Its harder than it looks and its got relentless power sections, short climbs, technical turns and a sand pit.

I find myself sitting at home all carbed back up and no ones here. My wife is at work and my daughters hanging with her Aunt (who spoils her rotten btw, but thats OK cause she loves her too).

I was definitely rusty today. I was a mess in the dismount area and almost stacked it up one lap because I dismounted close to the RR ties and didnt have time to grab (or forgot) to grab the top tube. I ended up hoisting the bike as high as I could with both hands on the handlebars. How smooth I bet I looked.

I was also too tentative in the downhill corners and around the trees. Its funny because its no different than last year. I have got to practice those more or history will continue to repeat itself.

What was better was a stronger start. I was top 12 or at least packed in with the favorites but my buddy whom shall go nameless tapped a pedal and fell on the narrow off camber hill and I had to stop and wait for him to get up. SO it was onto my usual cross race where I am about 10 spots further back and have to claw my way up. And I am in no way upset with him if you care to know.

I start to get it together and work my way up and then my race becomes chasing Brad Wilhelm (BW) on a mountain bike and Rudy (RS). We go back and forth near the end and my corner speed is getting better, but is still an issue. I am also having good sections and bad sections. Meaning sometimes I am shifting up and maximizing the grassy sections and hills and other times spinning an easier gear. For most of the race I pass the lead group on the asphalt section that forms the pier, but eventually they are going up the hill before I reach that section. But thats not bad for me.

BW and RS and I are battling with 3 to go back and forth. I mistake the bell lap for 2 to go and realize I can catch BW, but before that Rudy comes ripping by me. I follow him for a long time then come around on the asphalt and with encouragement from Rudy I take off and catch Brad.

On the bell lap BW passes me up the hill after the asphalt because I brake too much (and he did a great job drafting me all the way out and back on the asphalt) for the corner. I decide to sit on him till we get back to the section after the sand pit that is my best section. I will try to attack there and hope I can get a few seconds. Following him hes flying through the twisty section before the wheel pit and I am trying to stay close when a leaf gets caught between the fork crown and tire and it sounds Exactly like I blew out my front tire (fishhhh, fishhh, fisshhhh) so I hit the wheel pit, jump off and find the tires fine then I get back in the race just before Rudy comes up and I try and chase BW again.

But hes too far away to catch now and can control the gap. Then as if a false flat tire isnt enough a bug flies in my mouth and right down my throat! I hack and spit out most of it immediately, but I think it broke in two pieces and its guts scorched my throat. Maybe it was an Alien bug with acid for blood. At least it didnt sting!!

But anyways, 10th spot and I am happy with that. There were a lot of talented folk out for the first race and I was thinking top 15 alone would be tough. I think Brad and I deserved to get to race it out. A little tactics and attacks would have been fun, but not today. But it was still a great race in so many ways. Battling my own shortcomings in skills, racing hard, great battles chasing those in front and being caught from behind kept me on my toes all race long. Beginning to get that buzz about cross again. But can do without it in my throat.

Thanks Robert for the pics. Lots of phtogs on course yesterday

Thursday, September 10, 2009

All the things I didnt do...

After the TOTV stage race I had planned a full test program to dial in my new position tht I pretty much established after riding Sam Brodes' bike after the State TT. Once I get the TT bike to a certain set-up in the winter or early spring I dont touch it. No mid season tweaking. But this year I wanted to dial it in for the fall Presque Isle TT. Which I am not doing this fall sadly.

So what have I come up since July 10th? Absolutely nothing!! The bike literally hung from the work stand in the basement since the TOTV prologue. I went from riding it every single week to abandoning it. I also had not done a single Jim Behren Leroy Township TT this year.

So tonight my college class was cancelled and I had all of the reading and assignments done so I treated myself to some fun. But I kept this bad attitude about it instead of being excited. It was all confirmed when I started riding. Riding at threshold in the TT position felt all wrong and I didnt feel very fast at all. So I kept riding short LT intervals till I started to feel better. With every interval it started to feel more normal. I figured I'd go about 26mph on the out and with any luck 28 to 30 on the way in on the flats by what I did in warm-up.

So I line up and I go first and as soon as I clear the first rise I am up to 29mph and hold it for awhile!! Over 3mph faster than what i could hold in warm-up at my LT wattage. In the race I dont have wattage so its that "on the clock" rush!! I was LOVING it. Fly through the corner and to the first rise and then try and hold speed up the climb, but drop down to 14mph. Drill it to the turnaround in 9:14 and down the hill. I make the corner, sprint up to 27 and then go from 32 to 26 at the first false flat to 29 to 30 all the way in and cross the line at 36mph!! I only average 24.9 to the turnaround tonight (too slow from corner to turn around is my guess) and 30.1mph from turn around to finish line. Much better and so much fun to travel under your own power at that speed. Really a big rush.

I am convinced I am on a PR!! Leroy makes you think that because it has these great fast sections. But youve got to be good after the corner to get a 16 minute run. SO I go 17:06. Its only disappointing because in 2007 I went 16:52 on my first or second try on the course. But considering how things have been lately I'll take it and I felt great during the TT!! And thats whats really important right now. To enjoy every ride.

As for testing and tweaking? Well I am all charged up again. I know exactlyu the changes I want to make, but I think the poor bikes gonna be stuck in the trainer for a few months now!! At least I have the Computrainer to keep me company. A good two day block of training (the first in a long time) just in time for the first cyclocross race this Sunday.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Tour De Tamarack

What an awesome course. Seems were very blessed to have so many awesome race courses in our area. I dont have time to do my usual full blown report, though I'd love to because I had big expectations of myself, but reality said otherwise. So I changed my focus from self to sacrifice and it worked out great (though not necessarily because of me) for the team. So of course I want to talk about it. Great and I mean great team race for Carbon Racing.

Carbon Racing took 1st out of a 2 man break with Dan and the field sprint for 3rd by Shawn. But we were all on the attack and counter attack all race long. Also a shout out to Dave Steiner who was so strong Sunday.

In the mean time Mike Briggs took these great shots from the race that I would like to share.
I didnt have the power I expected, but climbed at the front none the less (nothing like Dan though-holy crap did he fly) and it looks like everyone was hurting including myself.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The conversation in my head

Please be aware there will be profanity in this post. I finally got out for a ride after work on Wednesday. I changed it up a bit and headed up Wilson Mills east to try that climb. It was a tough one and I held 10mph to the top and was pretty happy about that. I had already been riding hard since Fairmont and Richmond so I kept hammering over County LIne to Sherman to Caves.

It gets steep to the stop sign and as I approached it I heard a car coming up and it had that sound like stupid was driving. After youve ridden long enough you get a sixth sense about stupid so I threw out my left hand to signal my turn. I heard the revs of his motor slow a bit and glanced back and took my spot in the middle of the road. Remember its steep and I have been hammering for close to 45 minutes so I am not going super fast. I DO roll the stop sign, but at what speed I have no idea.

THis is where I have to tell you I am cursed (I call it a curse) with empathy. I feel as if I can sense other peoples emotions (ok, everyone can, but do they bother?) and i usually act to bring about some equilibrium. I call it a curse because I spend so much time worrying about other people and usually not enough about myself. I wont go any further.

SO my sense of this guy is impatience so I accelerate hard and am on my happy way then I hear him yelling "hey why didnt you stop?" So I yelled back to him the truth. I said "So you could get going faster". Its my empathy thing again. But i guess I misjudged this guy so he yells back some crap and "NIce stop DICKHEAD" and roars off with a heavy dose of throttle.

Well that really pissed me off. My initial reaction was what a fucking asshole and after the last few weeks of crappy work, but tiny paychecks, stress about school and etc. I felt like I could explode. So the typical looking jerk. Black SUV, black polo shirt and white hair and of course overweight. I have so many problems with older drivers. The car color? Well thats pretty vague, but it comes into play again later.

So I have this imaginary dialogue between myself and the a-hole as I ride on towards Brigham to Chagrin River and up Old Mill east. First thing I thought of was that he didnt give a rats ass about me rolling the stop sign. He just hates cyclists on what he mistakenly thinks are his roads. A common mistake among drivers who dont ride (or exercise in many cases I bet). And what a hypocrite. I wanted to ask him if he yells at every car that rolls and runs stop signs? Then I wanted to ask him where he lives so I could follow him for a d ay and write up the 100's of violations he committed mile by mile like speeding, rolling stop signs or not stopping at all for right turns on red, running lights and the list goes on forever.

So after many conversations in my head where I try to be reasonable I finally decided on what I should have said in the first place. I should have yelled back "Shut the fuck-up you Hypocrite" and left it at that. I certainly would have felt a lot better. NOt that he would have gotten it. I have stared down too many elderly angry men who act like they have the cognitive skills of a 4 year old brat who is incapable of reasoning than an adult to expect any better.

So while approaching Mayfield on Chagrin RIver road another guy in a new black v8 sedan goes left of center on a dbl yellow line full throttle right at me to pass a guy driving too slow for him. We make eye contact, but does he back off at all? Not one flippin bit. Asshole number two. The statistics state that people who buy black cars are more aggressive and significantly more likely to get in an accident. Well you two fucking neanderthals can take your worthless opinions and lack common sense and crash for all I care. Just crash into a light pole or ditch and dont hurt me or anyone else.

I've about had enough of caring for the common man. The person Ive never met whom I waste my time trying to figure out how to please. But i suppose if I lowered my self to their level I wouldnt be me. I am just saying its getting old being disappointed by my fellow human beings all of the time. I call my empathy a curse, but I am sure its a blessing. I just dont see it today.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Reposting about climbing area hills

Please read this and post up a time in the comments. Get it done before you lose your summer fitness.

And also:

Have fun and let these efforts be good training for you. Do one or two hills to warm up then blast one for a time. That usually works well for me. Then climb one or two more with tired legs. Then go home and have a great recovery meal and a tasty beverage!! I like a hoppy ale personally, but your welcome to drink whatever you like.

Monday, August 24, 2009


A group went to Mohican on Saturday and we had a blast on what some describe as the best single track in Ohio. I really have little to compare to, but I'd back that up. It was awesome. Loads of climbing and safe, but thrilling long descents almost entirely deep in the woods.

I started out slow as I had no feel for the trail or bike. I was over braking for every little bend. But loving the long climbs and steep switchbacks. At one point I did get my bravado up and got some air over a sharp whoop de do that they build into the trails. Once airborne I had a "I'm gonna DIIIE" moment and almost shit my pants and that was about the last time I tried to go all Jeremy Mcgrath. Dave said it looked good at least.

Later in the ride I was getting annoyed with how my front shock felt like a jackhammer even though it was plenty plush on the big hits so I remembered, Hey these things are adjustable. So I took out some rebound and it was amazing the difference. Now I see why pros say dialing in the shocks is so important.

As we started the long climb at the covered bridge (500' vertical feet) I really started to get that zen like feel and by mile 16 or so I was leaving the brakes off and flying down dangerously fast descents and hitting the next roller coaster like uphills with so much momentum pedaling sometimes was optional.

I only had to step off the bike 2x I think the whole ride and walk it over one obstacle. OK, that makes 3x, but that was about it. I had a bit of a personal challenge and kept it in the middle ring after dumping to the granny once in the opening miles 350' climb. With more warm-up I probably could climb that in the middle ring as well. For me going to the granny gear always causes more problems than it helps (wheel spinning, popping wheelies in the switchbacks).

I would love to go again this year and of course the 2nd time I hope to be flying from the start, not just the last 6 or so miles.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Did multiple 50 yard swims and then hit a 75m non stop finally! Working on breathing style helped a lot.

The last 50m swim I did by kicking from the hip and also trying to really pull with the arms. The arms get tired fast when you really try and pull hard with them!! Getting better, but after only 40 meters I am slapping the water with my hands and my hips drop in the water. I need lessons, but cant justify them. Hello Google and youtube!!

Might help if I got in the pool more than 2 or 3 times a year. Last summer I went to Cumberland on the 2nd to last day, got rained out and couldnt go the last day.

This winter being a college student again I hope to use the Notre Dame pool and weight room.

I am gonna have a huge celebration if I ever swim 100m non stop and do a flip turn without filling my nose with water.


One thing about a new job and working hard and fitting your riding schedule around your family and wife's increasing (some weeks) work schedule, you dont get to ride much. last few weeks I have ridden 3 times per week including a race or weekend ride.

But luckily I get some intensity in those rides. I wouldnt always say I feel fresh because some days I am wrecked from work or doing off the bike training and getting wrecked at work.

But overall I feel fresh when I need to kick up the intensity. If you cannot ride as much then warm-up easy then throw in some hard efforts. Pretend your attacking like Armstrong up a mountain pass or sprint for a few town line signs. Even better with friends. But dont let friends hold you back. Just let them know you need some intensity and blast away then recover so then can catch up or entice some tom foolery on the ride.

And my all time favorite solo training ride is do do a lot of endurance and tempo (HR or power) riding. Tempo pushes your LT and endurance keeps the furnace burning for weight loss. Do LT (time trial pace) when called for like up a climb or if your feeling good on your favorite stretch of pavement. These rides require no recovery the next day, but provide great training load. You'll be surprisingly tired afterward, but feeling great.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

No Shreve for me

Today is Shreve. A newer race on the Ohiio Calender, but no less awesome. I am sitting at home doing a garage sale with my wife as my daughter and her friends have a Lemonade and Cool aid stand.

I am sure that the garage sale will be just as exciting as the race and i cannot wait (sarcasm).

SO road racing season is over for me it looks like. I hope to make the Wendy Park Cyclocross race since I didnt get to do Shreve.

Also coming up will be as much mountain biking as I can fit in. I hope to find some fun, safe trails close to home. Also some skill training and intervals for cross. I think its time to continue to try and perfect the dismounts and remounts.

Monday, August 10, 2009

They raced, I did a Time Trial Merckx Style

2.5 miles into the Milk Race a big shard of glass went through my tire after the rise after the first turn. I apologize for the profanity. But I was pissed because I am in pretty good form and had planned a very aggressive race with Tris. And it was two flats in two races.

So I rode the flat back to the car (2.5 miles takes forever at 5mph) and changed tube and tire. I rode back out knowing I had to make the best of the day and decided I'd so some long intervals. How often do you get marshalled corners for a training ride? and of course the replacement tire doesnt flat....

I ended up doing a 40k TT Merckx style in all that wind. It was tough, but I was fueld by being pissed off. And I actually did more of a hard 40km interval than a TT. But the two funnest parts of it (fun..TT...same sentence??) was I went out in front of the Masters field and held them back and opened up the gap many times on the break for 20 miles. So I was feeling good and riding strong. And I was opening up the gaps solo on the descending portions, not the ups.

The other fun part was railing the corners. I didnt have to hold anything back because I didnt have the pressure of a field behind me should I go too hard and go off the exit, etc. It was Moto GP time baby and I was leaning my bike all the way over and accelerating out of all the corners really hard. Only thing I didnt do was make motorcycle sounds with my mouth.

The corner marshal's probably thought I was nuts because I kept telling them I had flatted. Meaning I didnt want them yelling to the Masters breakaway that I was 30 seconds, 1 minute up the road and affecting their race. Though since I didnt have a lead vehicle that should have been obvious. But you know how you can think all kinds of odd things when hammering your eyes out.

So another race and another flat. But the piece of glass left a 2mm long slice in my tire. Just bad luck as no tire casing could have stopped that piece of glass from coming through to pop the tube. I missed an aggressive race and that is also always a bummer. My team mate needed me and I love to race aggressive and I rode strong by myself so I know I could have been a factor in keeping a break away. I also raced by the grace of my team mate and its a bummer he paid all that money so I could train.

Thank you all for helping me to continue to race this summer. Shreve is the last one and I wonder if I shouldnt run my big winter commuter tires with the layers of Kevlar and armoured sidewalls?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Giving up the Data

Yup, you heard it right here. I am going to let WKO+ and Training Peaks software fizzle away shortly. My priority going forward is work and school. And of course all of the other things like house, pets, family, family and family.

Its a lot of fun for me to pour through bits of data post ride and thats why I need to let it go for awhile. I will continue to train with power and hopefully train others with or without power and that's another reason I personally need to stop looking at the data for myself. I need the time for clients, school books and not me.

Gone will be searching for personal bests after hard races or club rides. For example I finally reset a power figure last night that hasnt changed since 2007. Did a long sprint off of a leadout last night and finally broke the Friel CP 0.2 (mile) power mark. Jeez I was starting to think that darn number would never change!! And I got it by 19 watts and 40 vs anything I had done in recent history. And you can see this can be rather obsessive.

Gone are the searches for a certain hill or sprint that I thought I really put out some power. None of it really matters, its more a game or a cheesy pat on ones own back. IN the end the only thing that matters is who crosses the finish line first or a race well done for team mates or personal satisfaction.

And in every big race I did this year (from Deer Creek to Tour of the valley to the State Road Race and all time trials) I didnt have power data to pour over and look, I am still standing. My head hasn't exploded or nothin.

I got to tell you, it will be weird to ride then just dump the data before the next ride. Really weird.

And on that note, does anyone want to buy a 15" dual core, 4gb ram, 180g HD Compaq CQ50 laptop? Its screaming fast and the only task it has had in weeks is to dump my power tap data into. Well you know where to find me. Holler if you want it cause I sure want your money!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

ZOAR 2009

I am sitting having a glass of scotch from Marshall who races for Stark Velo. I think it fitting since this post is about the ZOAR race. One of my favorite local races. I was looking for some past data on the race and noticed in 2007, my first year racing I finished 6th in the Cat1-3 race (Or was it 2,3 then?). Anyways in 2008 my team mate Batke won and I tried to solo in for 3rd, but got caught about 3 miles or so form the line after a Dan Quinlan attack shut down most of my 20+ second lead on the infamous Middle Run climb.

My point being that this race dishes up a different race every year. Some courses have a break form on this lap or always breaks up here or there. Zoar does usually break up, but it happens sometimes by attacks on the flats or a move finally sticks on Middle Run. I would even argue the real drama on this course is caused by the descents after the two climbs. Maybe not directly, but they are so critical that one has to take them into account when attacking.

I hope I am not being too forward in saying that it looked like a Panther/RGF vs Carbon Racing event. I know Thom Domonic with his ever improving and diligently working Spin squad had that in mind when he took the suicide attack from the gun. And his move with one other rider lasted a good 20 or 25 miles. No one team wanted to drill it long enough to bring them back and after two and a half laps I felt the race was too slow. Not hard enough to drop anyone on the two climbs so I bridged.

It worked as planned. I bridged fairly quickly, but did not bury myself because I knew we had zero chance of staying away. But the move worked in getting the attacks going. And finally on the third lap the fireworks started with attacks and counters. Not only Panther and Carbon were attacking, but we were quite a few of them and got in quite a few others. Cioccio was especially active and some other independent riders.

It seemed I was always on Andy Clarke's wheel when he went after Dan or Matt or Brian's attacks. Finally on lap 3 Tris attacked the field on the way to the Middle Run climb. That was decisive and a brilliant move because it allowed the climbers and the strongest riders to hit the climb tired causing a big enough gap to the ones who were hoping to lose only a few seconds climbing and gain it back on the descent.

Dan attacked hard to bridge to Tris which put Paul Martin on the defensive as we started climbing. He surged once and I stayed on. Then he surged again and kept the pressure on as it started to downpour There is a great picture on the Stark Velo site which I will try and get of the move. I was about seeing stars, but stayed right on Paul's wheel. But this move came back after awhile (that darn descent again).

The next lap I am a bit fuzzy, but I know Tris brought us to the climb fast again. As we climbed and topped over we had Matt, Dan and myself and had isolated the other teams with one rider a piece and we had a big gap over the top. Dan drilled it down the descent and I only had to follow Andy to Dan. When we finally got to him Matt and I started working by taking pulls. You know how you get that "feeling" that your in the winning move? Well this had it and since we had numbers I felt for sure we could attack to get one of us away solo for the win with one lap to go. But somehow by the time we got back to Dover-Zoar road we were back as a group. Really a bummer. But we planned on getting multiple guys in every serious move and we did it as planned.

But it didnt matter for me because a couple miles down Dover Zoar and my rear tubie flatted, pss,pss,pss,pss,pss.... It probably lost 80% of the air, but it was spongy enough that I was able to ride back to the car without damaging the rim. I was a sad little bike racer riding back to the car doing the what-ifs.

As I have previously mentioned this was probably my last road race of 2009. And I was only able to attend due to the coaxing and help of the east side racers. Thank you all so much!! I feel as we all do after a DNF that I could have been there at the end!! But its no big deal. I raced hard, attacked, bridged, made the splits and worked hard for the team and climbed near the front every lap. What more could I do? But seeing as I went into the race hoping for a top 3 (or win?)and end the year on a high note but flatted, I do feel a bit bummed. It was a very fun race tactically and Carbon raced their collective asses off and that was fun to be a part of too. We took 1st (top 5 given same position) and 7th!! Been great racing with you guys!! Hopefully I can do one more race (Shreve or Milk), but I doubt it.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The new busier me

Well I am signed up for college once again. Its only been what, 19 years since I was a college student? Textbooks are on the way and I already received my first tuition bill and boy oh boy was that a shock!!

I started a new job that was offered to me on a bike ride no less. Its hard, dirty work and a far cry from my last two "desk jobs" in sales, but I am darn glad to have it.

But with this new busier life and seriousely contemplating working weekends (life and bills may demand it) I think my racing days may very well be on their way out temporarily.

I hope I am just being me and jumping too far ahead of myself. But between entry fees, gas, bike upkeep (tires,, tubes, etc.) and now potential lost work time I dont see racing as being possible fulltime. Not even dare I say it cyclocross. But that IS jumping too far forward.

I have all the equipment for cross and tires dont really wear out and tubes can be repaired!!

But what I DO KNOW for a fact is I think I have time to coach two athletes one on one. And maybe a few that just need a training plan once in awhile. I could coach athletes from out of town, but i believe my strength as a coach is being proactive and working face to face with my athlete. Observing and tweaking the training, fit and efficiency of my athlete as they ride.

I mean I am gonna be busy as heck now, but I sure as heck have no intention of getting fat!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm listening

I had this guy squeeze me at a stop sign on a two lane side streets instead of waiting behind so I followed him home (hes 4 houses from me) and confronted him about it.

I said he didnt need tot squeeze me to the curb and he said "what?". I told him I am not yelling, just saying. Then he said something that blew my mind. he said "I'm listening." and I explained he could stop behind me, the next one at the stop sign to go, not squeezing me to the curb.

He looked like he was honestly thinking it over and I rode home. I was a bit pleasantly shocked at his attitude. Also that I think he'd never thought about it before. HOw many driver's we have "run-ins" with arent being vindictive, but justnotreally thinking about it at all.

It doesn't change anything I suppose, but at least you can talk to them which is nice.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Single track for the soul

I was gonna take today off even though I spent two days on the trainer due to schedule and rain. But it was gorgeous today and after coning home from work I kept thinking about my mountain bike and hitting the singletrack around my house.

I went out and had a ball for an hour and half and didnt crash once. But I did bail two or three times. Which always makes me ask the question why do I always bail to the fall all the way down the hill side and not the lean into the side of the hill or tree side?

I did pull some tendons or ligaments when my cleats didnt release, but thats all.

I also found the black diamond rock garden singletrack that was just scary. I had heard about it and been steered away from it for good reason. I just cant get my mind off of how gnarly eating it would be in there. Its very cool and I can see how guys have kept it maintained, but its just way over my head.

Same old same old, I went in confident, but after walking the rock garden I had lost some confidence and wasnt as fluid anymore. But I'd say I improved since last winter. Its a momentum thing. The more things you clear that you couldnt before you get more confidnce and more daring and thats half the battle.

I sometimes think my mountain bike laughs at me though. Its such a sick-ass sweet bike that is more than capable of clearing anything the area has to offer. Its an 05 Specialized Epic FS bike with Fox front shock and Brain rear. Its way more bike than I deserve or can do justice. I can hear it saying "yeah, we can clear that, just GOOO...oh you pansy rider...go back and try again!!" "No??, you wuss." "what, now your walking me?" "GO to Walmart and get a Huffy."

But seriousely, singletrack is good for the soul. I really believe that. Its just a bit hard on the soft tissue. I cannot wait to spend a day at Mohican very soon. Its nowhere near as technical as where I ride so it should be smooth, flowing and fun.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

3mm of intuition?

I finally went back to my old Toupe Saddle on my road bike since it was liberated from the TT bike. I wanted to do it before TOTV, but I felt like it was too big of a gamble.

One would assume (Ass U Me)its a simple swap and even measuring before and after doesnt tell the whole story. It simply felt awesome to be back on it. I wasnt sliding forward and feeling like I had to squirm back every second. I am just a flat saddle type person.

More accurately I am a flat, thinly padded, 143mm wide, light weight saddle type..with a hole in the middle. I can ride on a few models of saddles well enough (toupe, phenom, SLR, arione, etc.), but only really love one. My aging blue and white Toupe. This just muddles up the whole saddle thing as if its not hard enough to get a saddle you like. Because you may ride your friends SLR and love it, but buy one and hate it. Could be his was worn just right or maybe had a unique shape. Bugger.

But I also felt like my legs had grown and at the bottom of the stroke I felt like I had lowered the saddle 2cm. And Sunday climbing 4 hills in the area (Old Mill both ways, Cedar, Fairmont and Sherman) I felt like I had lost power and couldnt turn the cranks over seated. That was as much being tired and stressed as anything else really or so I thought.

Tuesday I commute to work and decided that's enough. Just because the tape measure says everything is fine, its not. I stop and raise the saddle 3mm (guessed at the time)and started back into a my tempo riding and pow, felt good again and didnt feel like I was riding someone else s bike. The power was back and accelerating up climbs seated seemed normal again.

Unfortunately my happy feelings were somewhat squashed by two fat head A - holes in a candy apple red Chevy Blazer who did the tired old "get on the Bike Path" with a fat arm swinging out of the passenger window. I said nothing, made no one finger salute, then they slowed to give me more of their opinion so I sat-up, grabbed my phone out of a plastic baggie (took time) and they accelerated off as I took a picture. Sadly they were too far away to see the license plate. But I was worried about more retaliation which always ruins a ride.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

JCB BIathlon and ride and might as well walk too

The JCB Biathlon I won last summer was a hoot. I ran my butt off for 3 miles with all my buddies around then raced my TT bike up and down rolling Gates Mills, Shaker Blvd, etc. and raced over the line on Belvoir at over 30mph.

Reading the 07/16/09 Clevelend Sun Press this morning I heard I was some sort of trouble maker trying to go so fast and running stop signs and lights (with police blocking cross traffic). Turns out the 12.5mile bike portion is NOT a race and fair citizens shouldnt feel scared tot back out of their driveways or have cyclists riding (OH my goodness) at 30mph or MORE on city streets!! Whoa!! Ummm..Isnt the speedlimit 35 on most of those streets?

Are people really this stupid? I didnt realize I was competing in a ride, not a race. Theres gonna be a lot of "racers" not racing JCB this year and JCB might not eb too happy about the loss of income. To be honest with you, I am not planning on running much this winter so I was going to skip it as much as I'd love to support the race.

But what do I know, I'm just a reckless cyclists who rides over 30mph sometimes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

notes to finish it off

Heres some tidbits I hope to find interesting should I read them before next years race.

-I went into TOTV 5 lbs heavy and finished 5 lbs heavy vs June 30th (from my bros wedding). That and a steady diet of comfort food to help dull the pain from the racing each evening.
-A 5.56mile TT hurts a lot worse than a 25mi TT, but thank fully its over so quickly. Not that it feels like it at the time.
-I got so sick of eating Cliff bars, but chocolate GU's still taste yummy.
-I ran out of GU2O energy drink on Friday and drank mostly water with Endurolytes in it the rest of the weekend. I tried watered down Gatorade Sunday-when I could find time to take a drink.
-My training for the race was drinking and eating a lot then doing Westlake, some openers and a ride around the neighborhood Thursday. Not quite what I'd call optimal training.
-My last criterium in 1992 I think I dropped out of or got pulled. I made damn sure I didnt get dropped or pulled Friday night.
-The third leg of the Prologue sucks bigtime. And probably where I lost most of my time.
-I did not pre-ride the road course or even see it before our first race lap. I would have been too scared to race it if I had or had nightmares for weeks.
-I used my best wheels for each event and therefore never had power data. I do wish I had that data now.
-I made some changes to the TT bike as an experiment and I think were onto something. Many more changes to come. Basically tossing out all my modified front end bits..oh well.
-My thighs were getting hosed in the road race so I had to scoot back on my saddle to engage different muscles the whole time. It helped a lot. I am going back to my old Toupe which fits different than my new Toupe. My new one pushes me forward on the seat then it becomes uncomfy when it doesnt.
-I forgot how much I love criterium racing. All I remembered from the old days was how much I hated them. So I guess you could say I HAD a Love - Hate relationship with them and I still do.
-I found a killer, fast line in Friday nights Canfield crit. in the dbl. right handers. But I think next year were going the other way as it was planned to be.
-But it took me the whole race to get up to speed in the slightly downhill right hander in the back.
-The older model Zipp 303's tubies I got from my buddy Rachfal are amazing. The best wheels I have ever ridden. Period. They spin up fast and carry speed and are totally manageable on bumpy roads, side winds, etc. and seem to just float up climbs. Really.
-I borrowed a Zipp808 front from Batke Friday morning. Its fast and its so stable too. More stable than a 404 in cross winds. Sorry for the Zipp promo-I swear I am not sponsored.
-The SPF of my skin cells has got to be at least 50 by now.
-I talked to so many nice fans, racers and volunteers all weekend long.
-I rode into work today at a snails pace, but feel like doing sprints on my commute home today for some reason. Like a lot of sprints. Okay maybe 4.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunday, 10th in GC, One more to go.

I did as I did every morning and got my hug from Erin and said good morning to the crew. Slathered on the sun block, again, aired up the tubies (sweeett!!) again and suited up again.

I come up on Matt and Shawn on the street and they tell me I am the GC leader on Carbon and I need to attack, be a crit rider today and get in a break. Wow, some pressure to perform well and this time its not from myself. I usually get yelled at for not closing a gap or not not going in the right attack. This is weird and I am kind of closing into myself because I need ot do this. The way points work in this race a good finish can move you up form 10th to 5th just like that. Since I already had 14, a top 5 would be huge.

I did a few laps and dare I say it the legs felt good. I did a few laps wanting to be warmed up, but not do any hard efforts. I did one more lap and darn, everyones lined up. The course was super fast, easy technically, but the start finish was narrow and I wanted a front row start.

We get going and its not a brutally fast start and I am not too badly positioned. But once again I find myself at the back. Damn. It gets fast and I am like evryone else gunning it, trying to recover and going again. I am on Paul's wheel then I move to the front, get swarmed, get shuffled back and then tail gun.

This goes on then I follow accelerations along the back straight and get to midfield with Shawn and Rudy (who raced with us in the Pro 1,2 field this week-Thanks Rudy). I am not having problems giving up wheels (speed is not an issue for me-I love going fast and leaning my bike) today and I am finding ways to out maneuver guys into and pass guys on the outside between corners. But the main theory I had from Friday was I was not accelerating hard enough (big duh) so in Youngstown I made sure my first few pedal strokes were hard, like a stomp and now I wasnt opening that 3' out of the corners that took 20' to close back up.

A break is up the road now and I dont see Paul and its gaining time so I know I missed my opportunity. But I am not good at getting position and keeping it right away. I'll work on it if I do anymore big crits this summer. I get in a break with Beizer from JJ who is in the yellow, but I know it wont stay so I dont work. I come back tired and fade to midfield. Then I finally get mad enough.

I come on the back straight and go from the middle of the pack straight to the front on the inside and atack once, but I dont get far. Then Cioccio moves up and I follow him up and he attacks. Moskal goes and I rub my brakes to get untrapped come out and bridge up. It takes me too long and I think I may not make it, but I get them in the corners. But then bib#6 Burke from Lathrup/Giant who is 2nd in GC moves up and now were doomed again. But I finaly get to see more than asses and lead the race across the start finish line.

I attack one more time and its as pathetic as the ones before and JJ crew who was controlling the front the whole end of the race probably doesnt even need to change speed to close it up. Now its 4 to go, I see Tom Frueh moves up, but I am not close enough get a points position.

They ring the bell and I take stock of all my team mates. Some are moving back and some I pass as I say, what the heck, let see what its like at the front of one of these crazy sprints. I dive under some guys and pedal past on the outside of a few. I am having fun. But I only make it to about midfield and when we make the final left and hand turn a lot of guys sprint inluding myself. I go then sit-up, then go what the heck and put my head down and pass a few guys (just for shits and giggles) and cross the line finishing the Tour of the Valley 2009!!

Turns out I lost one position on GC and came in 11th. Haruumph. Maybe if I got mad at myself sooner and got my ass in gear on lap 1 I at least would have had a fighting chance of making a break and getting some points. But its not like I am unhappy with 11th. I just wish we had capitolized on Friday morning having Matt in 3rd, Brian in 6th and myself in 10th. And sure I can go on and on about blunders I made, but all the teams and riders had them.

But I think I will prefer to try and remember I got 10th in the prologue, 6th in the road race and finished two fast crits with crit riders who know how to make a race hard. And did two events on no sleep and the hardest on very little sleep. I also did what I always do and analyzed the crits and decided areas that I could control and be better at and Sunday, althoug it took 20 minutes I DID as promised and got my ass to the front and started attacking in a mother fricken Criterium. And not a training crit or a Cat.4, but a Pro 1,2. Maybe not Twilight, but guys who have done Twilight said they were tough, fast crits.

And I also got to be a part of one heck of a well run first year event. We were told that some big races which have gone on for years or decades have never run as smoothly as what Dan, Erin, Sam and the Carbon Racing Team pulled off in their first year and only 2nd time organizing an event (I won the first one last summer and it too was well run). And not surprising that race also had a whicked hard road course. So many more important people to thank, but as always I am scared of leavibng out someone so Thanks to Everyone!!!

I cannot wait for 2010!! Whew, now I need another short break (one day) from cycling and from blogging.

Unbelievably tired, but the show goes on.

Saturday, 4:30am alarm goes off and Ive slept well thanks to my friend Tylenol PM. Out the door to Columbiana to help put out hay bales and anything else the Quinlan's need. I fore go a warm-up of any significance and just tool around. The race starts on a course anyone of any ability has to fear a bit.

Non stop the course is throwing false flats, wind, descents with sharp corners, steep leg breaker rollers and a 3km climb with a KOM and open wind swept highways. The first acceleration reminds me I did two races the day before. I stay mid-pack and Shawn Adams launches and is chased by a Jittery Joe's rider and they are gone till the first climb.

We climb the KOM hill, but before the heads-up riders swarm and come around and now I am way too far back for the climb. So I just maintain and as the fireworks go off for the KOM I get gapped off a bit, but I am not worried because I wasnt in any trouble on the climb and I am surrounded by a ton of riders.

After were all back togetheer Tris launches as I move up the right side. Hey he read my mind. So now I am right at the front and Tris is moving away fast. Andy Moskal of RGF goes after him and I take off after Andy. I take a free ride for awhile as per racing etiquette. Marco Aledia of Inferno and Beizer of Jittery Joe, a strong rider from Essex Brass and Tom Burke from Lathrup/Giant came along and we moved on out.

I thought we had decent representation from all teams so I hoped we would be given a long leash. Everyone pulled, some more than others, but the Essex Brass guy and Tris seemed to be the real motors in the break. IN fact I had to miss a turn and resort the rotation at one point because I was getting fried trying to take pulls after the Essex brass guy.

We got gaps anywhere between 2 minutes and 2:15 on the first lap and what a relief to come through the start finish to conclude one brutally fast lap. I was also happy that Dan, Erin and Sam got to see two Carbon Racing team members n the break. I knew that would make them happy.

It didnt take long on lap two to start feeling the fatigue of hammering in a smaller group. We hit the first longer climb and the Essex guy attacks with like 30 miles to go and were all shaking our heads. We dont chase and eventually he comes back in to the fold, but is no worse for the wear.

We hit the KOM climb again and this time its such a smooth, even pace I am not sure if were going hard or not, but that it hurts bad. We just tap out our own rythms and stay in a tight little group. Over the top we know weve got the steep rollers now and we all seem to suffer equally. I am hurting bad, but I dont seem to be having too much trouble hanging on, but I do try to take it easier in the rotation.

Then we get a gap from the car and he says 45. I am thinking is that to the chase or to the pack? I yell for clarification, but he races away so fast we dont get to clarify and Burke, Jittery Joes and Essex Brass take off like scared cats at the news of our imminent catch. I feel like I can close the gap, I really do, but I try to be smart because i know one really long hard effort could be my undoing. I dont jump because I will work with Tris, Moskal and Aledia to close it, but no one jumps and by the time we hit the top of the roller and we switch to the big ring they are motoring and were all trying hard, but they are out of sight. They showed that they were strong and now they proved it.

In respect to those who have really suffered in real life tragedies, I must say that from here on to the end it was just a death march in a sporting sense. Were all committed then Tris' leg cramps so badly he cannot sit and pedal anymore and now were 3. The code of silence usually established during a long breakaway is broken and we talk a lot form here on out. Basically discussiing gaps, how far we are from the line and what terrain remains.

With 2 or 3 miles to go Marco gets this wild hair up his butt and takes one more whicked pull that I swear it was 400 watts sustained. That after 60 miles of hard racing. He finishes and I just look at him and say "Damn Marco, that hurt" as I roll by to take my turn. Now we can see waay back on the highway and there is no one there and we finally know that this long day has been worth it. We wnt get caught by the pack. We rotate to the last corner, but no ones putting any effort into it. We all stand up to jump before the corner, but I go first on the outside, but when Marco and Andy light up their sprints I go backwards quick and then roll in.

And somehow we did not get caught by a pack that was battling it out fiercely. They even got Dan Clark away in the steep rollers and he was the closest, catching Tris 500m beore the line. Then Brian comes in with a JIttery JOes and suddenly were back in the GC game with me in 10th and Brian in 11th. And Ive now scored points in two events!! I cannot be happier or more sore and tired. Tris, Batke and Matt have all placed well too. Awesome.

I drive my minivan with the Radio guy for the Masters race and learn all about amateur radio and am very well entertained by the Masters breakaway. We laugh as I critique the finish strategy of the guys in the break, screaming "why are you doing that?" "Get off the front, your giving him the win!!" We get a big laugh at my arm chair qurterbacking.

But tomorrows another criterium and as I drive home my brains so full of "what do I need to do, how can I ride a better crit" that I am halfway home before I even turn on the CD player. I ask Dan for the morning off from helping and I am so happy when he says, just help break down after!!

I am in need of comfort food and chow down on a double whopper as I drive home, catch up on the tour in HD, eat, relax and sleep in to a glorious 7:30!! When I get up I feel fine and I think I know a thing or two I had forgotten about crit racing, but I am honstly not feelng that confident of scoring any points. But I am going to will myself to try dammit. And I mean it. Friday night was just embarrasing.

This will come up later, but I dont take the attitude that I am the team leader now and when in the break Saturday I was the Carbon Racing leader with my one point. I think its funny that so many riders who probably dont deserve it ask or demand that their teams work for them all of the time, but when I am clearly in that position I am still not wanting to make demands, even though in the end its whats best for the team, not just me. I am not trying to make myself out as the angel, just that there are times when I need to realize I have to act like a leader and race appropriately. I blew a golden chance to win one of the most comptetive road races Ive ever been in by working too hard. IOW I raced to finish 6th, not to win. Thats got to change. Heck-I didnt even think about not working n the break.