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.

Friday night and in shock, but what fun.

Lining up for my first "Real Crit" in 17 years and my first ever Pro 1,2 Criterium had some real mixed feelings for me. On the one hand I know I am a better racer and much better trained (thanks coach Sean Gilbert)than in the 80's and 90s. I was a Cat.3 back then who could kick ass in road races and did well in time trials, but couldnt race a crit. to save my life.

So with the exception of some confidence in my fitness I still wondered how I would do. Well I can summarize how I did by telling you about my post race call to my wife on the drive home. I have known Stacie since I started racing. I said overly loud and flamboyantly into the phone "Weeell honey, GUESS where I was in the Crit the whole race tonight?" She replied in exclamation and we just started busting out laughing. She knew I was tail-gunner!

But a after good laugh and a flood of funny old crit. memories there was one fact that remained and that was that I left our GC contenders (myself included) high and dry by not being able to move up and stay up front. Matt was sitting 3rd after a great time trial and he had to do almost everything himself and he did too. Tris came up to help, but I rarely made it past 3 from the back. I finished the race while a lot of guys dropped out so for me that was a small victory, but in the end I let Matt down and apologized to him as soon as I saw him. I felt bad and still do.

The Canfield course was so technical that it was hard to move more than a couple positions in the corners (but easy to lose positions if you dint race aggressively, which I did not) then it was a drag race along the start finish up a false flat and yes, into a headwind all the way back to the twisties. I had forgotten why I always loved crits even though I was no good at them. Its like being a Moto GP rider on courses like this. Just a thrill.

Friday morning at Tour of the Valley

To the question "how are you feeling" Friday am came the answer tired. And worried, but I didnt say that. I didnt sleep the previous night and promised ot be at registration to help Sam. And my heart was acting odd. Ive been at racing (karts and bikes) long enough that stress isnt a big deal the night before. I think it was because of the mad rush to make fall quarter and find some grants and financial aid.

And on a side I had a dream I was moving into a dorm room last night...but at 43 years old and 6 room mates...weird.

I got to pre-ride the course and it had false flats and wind so it would be a tough 5.56 miles for sure. I had to start early so Brian could borrow my bike (his frame broke early in the week). I had some strong 30 and 60 second riders so that would help.

a short prologue is best described as being an all out effort that one hopes you dont blow up before 5.56 miles. The only pacing is to ride harder the whole way. So when I was released I sprinted all the way past 30mph, turned the first 90 degree and ramped it up to 39mph!! I cleared the first mile in 1:48 seconds then made another right and this is when it really started to hurt.

Pushing at this 5 minute point is such a mental screw job. Your thinking "its only 6 more minutes of effort, you can do it, keep pushing" while your thighs are locking up and that little voice is saying "your gonna blow, just conserve a bit, a tiny, tiny little bit, back off."

And as the road goes up you push even harder to try and keep the speed up. I thought about all of the guys I saw in the parking lot on TT bikes or road bikes with clip-ons and knew they were all going for it. And all of the guys on road bikes who are just monsters who I knew wanted a few points to start the stage race. None of them were going to back down so I kept pushing minute by minute.

Into the last mile I knew was mostly downhill and finished by giving it all that was left and cleared the last mile in 1:53 (again over a 30mph ave) for a time of 11:48. I got what I wanted, a point in the Prologue to take into the GC. No matter what happened the rest of the event I was classified. And who knows if that one point would be critical later.

The setting at Mastropietro's winery was awesome. And I hear he wants us back next year too!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Westlake Zipp Night

I realized at sign in this was my 2nd WW of the year. Thats even less than last season. Been at a wedding drinking and having a good old time the last week. Came back anything but rested after a 15 hour drive, but got on the bike Monday for about 2 hours and lined up for WW Zipp NIght.

I went in thinking about being non aggressive and sitting in till the end and go for it if it was a bunch sprint. Well........that lasted a neautral lap and I was off chasing breaks and even trying one myself. Chasing down guys who were bridging to team mates already in breaks.

I got tired after riding pretty hard for a long time and faded to the back for a few laps to recover then moved back up after Tris was in a few decent moves that came back and bridged to Rudy, Jeff Braumberger and Andy Clark. I tried to launch with everything I had to not drag anyone with me. We 4 stayed clear which actually was alright because non of the regular top 3 guys in points made the move. So that was good for Tom Frueh. At first I was bummed afterwards that I made the break instead of him, but in the end it worked out. I was pulling a bit too long, but I didnt want to get caught so that was fine with me. And it made for a better workout.

Impressively Tom Dominic who was sitting in most of the race (like I was supposed to do) bridged up solo with 1 or 2 to go and then the games began. Rudy had been in a lot of breaks today and 4 of the top 5 were all good sprinters so he decided what the heck, he'll lead it out. I tried my best to stay on Jeff's wheel and thought, hey maybe I can get in the top 3 if I can come around, but I sat down as we hit the 200m mark when I had some momentum (dumb) and then didnt have the speed for the last 150 and came in on Rudy's wheel. Like I have been saying, my sprint has improved dramatically in one year!!! But it still sucks.

Tom had the best legs and beat us all to the line. Laughing because he felt kind of dumb winning after not doing much in the race and ending up bridging and winning. But thats racing!! By contrast my legs are sore and his feel fresh hours later. But my legs needed a wake-up call and they got it today thats for sure.

And I finally got a top 5 at Westlake. Yahoo!! I'll keep working on my sprint and maybe try to get to WW more than 2 to 5 times a year to boot. Overall I felt slow tonight, but I hope I made up for it by being aggressive when I could.

Next stop is the Tour of the Valley Stage Race. I hope to race all 4 stages, but I may end up only doing one or two if the team needs my help. Hope to see you there racing or at least spectating.