Saturday, 31 May 2014

I Went To Harvard

Where I got kind of schooled. See what I did there?

Knowing things is key to bike racing (keeping with the educational theme here), and I didn't know the course, and I don't know the guys who I was racing against. This is a bad combination.

Anyway, I know that the bitchin' Dodge Charger that drove AT us as we prepped for a right hand turn, that wasn't cool at all. THANK YOU, DODGE!! Although when we made it around safely, the guy who asked if that thing had a Hemi, that was funny.

The disparity in the level of the fields is problematic. There are a lot of guys who have the simple goal of making it through the race. So you have some people who are trying to race, and then you kind of get sick of being a designated pedaler, and then it just becomes a rat fuck. Who knows? It's still fun.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Killington Redux

I had a few thoughts while I was driving home. Monday was a nice day, I rode the beginning of Sunday's stage, and then took the main access road up to K-1 base, which also covers the last 1.5 miles of Sunday's stage. Here are those thoughts:
1. I think that in masters racing, good is good. There is less specialization. The guy who won Saturday's sprint was hanging every bit as well as I was on Sunday's power climbs. He flatted, too.
2. Vermont's roads REALLY suck. The wheel van leavings on Sunday were awful - dozens of flats and several broken wheels.
3. As I age, I need to worry more about anaerobics and less about aerobic work. I'm not a physiologist, but it seems that my lingering benefit of now a lot of years of training is installed. The kick has never been my thing, and while I can put out high-ish numbers (my all time best 3' thru 7' numbers happened Sunday, and I'm light right now so w/kg was good too), they cost me a lot. I don't get that 'give me 5 easy pedal strokes and I'll be back to 100%' response.
4. If you want to get fast, you have to race. The horror of being faced with making up 50' or joining the drop-ees will motivate you like no Strava segment ever will.
5. Back to point 3, aerobic work is not a concern. There's about a 3% drop from my 1 hour power to my 2 hour power. This makes races like Saturday's circuit really easy to make it through, but it doesn't help me excel. When I performed said 2 hours at 97% of 1 hour power, I was in the midst of losing 18' to the field I'd flatted out of over the course of 50 something miles (my total solo riding time was closer to 2.5 hours - I flatted early). Races are dynamic. Being able to fairly easily ride a 5 hour century solo doesn't win races.
6. Fuck me if I'm not already fascinated with the thought of GMSR '14. Why? Everyone knows the outcome already.
7. Our team kits are just insanely good looking.
8. And our socks are even better.
9. I built up this stupid TT bike, I guess I have to find sometime to use it.
10. There are some nice races coming up in the next two weeks.
11. There are exceedingly few people I want to race with as teammates. Hearing teams yell at each other and get all aggro'd out, it's just not me. Once, about 6 years ago, for about three days, it was. I was on a big team then, and I hated it.
12. I got super lucky hooking up with the Community Bike Racing guys for housing for the weekend. What an excellent fun, funny group of guys. Lifetime, I'm two huge hits for two swings at reg-stalking to see who I kind of know and hooking up for housing at an away meet. GMSR with Dan and Eric last year was maybe the funniest weekend of the year.
13. I really need a haircut. Most old guys go bald. I'm doing the opposite.

Monday, 26 May 2014

I Don't Lovermont Anymore

GMSR 2012, stage 3: flatted on enormous pothole
GMSR 2013, stage 3: flatted on enormous pothole
KSR 2014, stage 2: flatted on enormous pothole

The secretly toughest part of Killington is the first KOM on stage 2. It's 5 of the toughest minutes of your life, after which the pace doesn't let up appreciably for another 15 minutes. Yesterday, 4 guys opened a gap nearly instantly at the bottom. The alarm bells were all ringing, so I just got as close to the front as I could and white knuckled it to try and stay with what was rapidly becoming a pretty small selection. Eventually, I was gapped just a bit, and its that horrible 50' to the rider in front, 500' to the rider behind, totally pinned, what are you made of deals. I shifted down, went into the abyss, and passed the test. The file was later to show that this was the hardest I've ever gone for 5 minutes.

Totally banged up but freaking psyched to have made the group I did, I tried to at least get my heart below my eye sockets, and soldiered on. Eventually the effort became aerobic again, and that's fine for me. I took my turns, hated it when guys would charge on kickers but buckled down and stayed attached, and made it to the feed zone. If you make the feed zone, generally you're going to live to fight to the bottom of the mother climb. The best news was that our group had whittled down to like 6 (through droppage and the unfortunate flatting of the race leader) and we'd all but caught the 4 who'd been out ahead. And then at 40+ mph, the guy in front of me did that little shimmy which I didn't have time to replicate and BAM! My legs were instantly covered in Stan's and my weekend was done. Proper kudos to my rim for not exploding.

The wheel truck had stayed behind the main pack, so it took 3.5 minutes to get a change. Weekend over. I wound up catching a few people and being caught by the 1/2 field, which we rolled on the back of for awhile. With the 56 mile solo after after my flat at Quabbin already in this year's register, combined with my general history of untimely flats, the fight had left me. My car was at the bottom of the hill, I went straight to it. That much demoralization, I just can't take it.

The guys I was with went 1 through 9 on the stage.

I had a brief conversation with a teammate of the GC leader, who thought it was probably lame that we hadnt waited for him to get a wheel. We were going WAY TOO FAST to even really realize it when it happened, and with the break up the road and the truck behind the pack, 3' behind us, it would have handed the GC to the break and erased the work my group had done. He seemed to understand, but when there's no team car to get flats undone within .0 seconds, such niceties are impracticable.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Killington Day 1

Stage 1, 18 mile loop x 3. It actually feels pretty short, especially when your field decides to ride bat shit fast the whole time and you finish 54 miles in 2:20. Meteorologically, today was a strange one indeed. The morning was overcast, the race was partly cloudy but plenty of sun, and then 2 seconds after we finished it started raining. 5' later it was deluge. 90' later, beautiful clearing skies, under which these photos were taken. Now we have a thunderstorm.

The only notable thing in the race was a group of four talented guys getting off the front on lap 2, and Loudmouth Magillicuddy from Expo Wheelmen who was just that guy. Every race needs one, I guess, so we should all be happy he was willing to be the guy. What a douche. The problem is his teammate (their team here is 3 guys) is literally the only person I know in New England racing. He seems like a nice guy, but guilt by association makes me wonder. Douchey McNozzle a) tried to pick a fight with a guy at the KOM when there were no points left to be had, the break took them all, then gave me shit for not taking pulls when a) I'm just me and if the break goes, so it goes and b) I'd just come off the fucking front. Guy was too busy hiding in 12th wheel to know any of this, so fuck him. He's supposed to be some uber sprinter but he didn't win so fuck him again. Dick. Beating him up the hill tomorrow by not less than half an hour will be my pleasure. The break was brought to heel, we had a field sprint, I had great position (which is actually becoming a thing with me) but at 135rpm on my 50x11 going mid-40's mph, I was spun the f out. Whatever, goal for the day was arrive safely with no time loss, which is a big fat check.

My legs felt good enough to give me some heart for tomorrow, I'll have to play it super close to the vest until we get to the bottom of the climb, and take my cuts from there.

Tubeless. It's what's for dinner.

Friday, 23 May 2014


Well, if I'm writing a blog, that probably means I'm about to do some bike racing. Having moved back to New England, this year feels like it hasn't even started, even though it's Memorial Day weekend. It's been really cold, and though I guess there have been a lot of races going on, I'm not very dialed into the scene. Also, I've been really busy.

So, anyway, up to Killington we go. This is a race I did pretty well at a couple of years ago, anchored by a great race on the first day, and a good race on the last day, with a Horrifying time trial in between. This year, I have no idea. My numbers are fine, I feel okay, but with so little racing under my belt, I have no idea.

Perhaps it's a sign of aging that I now have a time trial bike, even though it's just a somewhat elegantly converted road bike. Of course, it's a sign of not growing up that I rubbed the thing for the first time on Tuesday, three nights ago. The course I will use it on more about power than anything else, it's what you might call falls flat for most of 11 miles. I was able to go pretty fast practice over expected time all, on a course that had more elevation but it was more rolling, was one big hill, rather than a gonstant gradual slope. I'm not at all time, I've never done a good time trial. I'll be happy if I have a good circuit race, and then do okay in the roadrace.

If this sort of kind of almost makes sense, and you can understand what's going on, this was entirely written through Siri.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Quabbin Reservoir Classic

Especially when the drive to a race is long, you do a pretty good job of fooling yourself that it's going to be nicer weather than it is. Boy was this the case on Saturday: 41* and dropping, with increasing rain, that will be a fine day on the bike, right? Then, when you open the car door, the grim reality smacks you pretty hard.

Quabbin is a race that a lot of people talk about, it seems to have a big following. When registering, I found it kind of hard to stomach the $55 entry fee. Seems excessive, but there were about 400 people signed up, so maybe they all knew something I didn't. Getting there took nearly two hours, which is more common in New England that what MABRA spoils you with. Had it not been for the painful entry fee and that I really wanted to race, I'd have bailed on it. The fx clearly spelled misery, and boy did I have a lot of stuff to do.

Time on bike has been regular but not been nearly enough, and the weather has SUCKED this spring. It's tough to get into good race shape without racing, and what's the point of doing all this training if you aren't going to race, so you go race. I brought enough clothing, and wore it all: bibs, wool socks, short sleeve jersey, arm warmers, leg warmers, long sleeve jersey over short sleeve and arm warmers, aero-therm vest (best thing ever) over that, plus lobster gloves, knit beanie, and neoprene booties. The neutral start was a bit chilly, but past that I was fine.

5 miles in, I looked back to get a sense of group size, hit a nasty series of potholes while looking back, ejected a bottle (first time ever) and nearly broke both thumbs. Can't build wheels now thanks to a murdered right thumb. Two miles later, a tiny little piece of glass flatted my rear tire. EXACTLY what happened in Green Mountain 2012, a slow clincher leak - what even is that? The SRAM support guy had already had a customer or two, so it took about 2.5 minutes for me to get rolling again, at which point the question was, do I even bother. 58 miles of almost certain total solitude didn't sound too great, but neither did waiting three hours for the wheel car to get home (course is 1 loop) and missing out on my training. What was I going to do, go home and ride the trainer?

I had no idea that I was capable of what I did over the next two hours, and I'm still jacked from it. The watts are the watts, and for some people they would constitute a recovery ride, and for some they'd be a vo2 effort, but for me they were big, but mostly long. I did what I thought I could maybe do for an hour, for two hours instead. I passed a lot of people and small groups, but never saw the main field. Finally one guy jumped out of a group that I passed and we rode together for almost the last hour. 5k out from the finish, I wished him well, bonked, and creeped the rest of the way home. Shadoobie, shattered, shattered.

MABRA has had some incredibly sad news yesterday. I'm reticent to eulogize or talk much about it, but Chris was a person I really enjoyed. I remember a few years ago, his first year of racing. Every year there is THAT messenger who decides to race, and this was his year. We were in Lost River for July 4, staying with Jay and Audrey, working on the race prep, and Soda was there too. The weather in the 4th was terrible, like 60 and raining. Soda and I decided to just go up and over Howard's Lick, doing the front and backside climbs, and call it a day. Up the front, I was pasting him and feeling pretty smug about it, and then I got up to the high spot of that climb, where you go down before the final press back up to the barn. The road was in bad shape and wet as hell, but Soda blew by me going about a million and six, laughing and loudly questioning my manhood. When we went up the backside, I DRILLED it and made sure to get enough padding to last down to the barn, which would inevitably be the unofficial finish. Even though he was at least a full switchback behind me at the top of the climb (maybe a minute), it took all of my nerve to go fast enough to hold it down to the barn. It was one of the most memorable rides I'll ever have, and a few weeks later when we both got caught behind a crash turning onto the finish at Page Valley, racing each other was all we had left to do. I've never gone harder but he had a talent for short efforts and took it by a length. There's a picture of it buried on an old computer, me definitely holding back a big old barf but smiling nonetheless, Soda determined but a look of pure joy on his face. I'm afraid that the world didn't afford him too many such moments in his entirely too brief life, but I'm glad to have gotten to share a couple of them with him. Peace, brother.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Not Dead Yet

Self portrait taken in a Hong Kong park. I have anger management issues

Blogging is dying out pretty quickly, so it would seem. To some degree, it's with good reason. How many times can you read about people patrolling the front, covering any dangerous/promising looking moves, hoping to unleash a monster sprint, getting a little boxed in, and still salvaging an eighth? Don't forget some mandatory sketchy riding thrown in there. Though it's been some number of years, I've written that post. But there are some good ones out there, Fatmarc (who will forever be FatBacon to me after a funny post of his last year) and Great Uncle Paps. Worth reading.

Life's been chucking it at me a bit, headed by a trip to China. My project management contract sent me to Qingyuan for the better part of two weeks recently. It's an interesting place. One might be tempted to say "good god, what a shit hole," and yes, it's very different from here and some stuff doesn't make any sense to us, but it makes sense to them. I think. They do have more bike shops per acre even than the greater DC metropolitan area, which is nuts. The tea is fantastic, never mind that it seems primarily motivated by the abiding need to boil water before you drink it. Anyhow, it's a super interesting place, I'm excited to go back but not too soon. If nothing else, the jet lag is a bitch on wheels. Hong Kong is a trip, though. That's worth seeing, for sure.

Apart from that, there's mad amounts of domestic traveling going on. This week I will be in NJ, PA, and NC visiting vendors and playing backup on sales calls. Training for pedaling bikes gets hard this way, so I've had to adapt to running. My hotel in China had spin bikes (actually it had the nicest gym I've ever been in) which I used a bit but generally with the time I had (not much) I chose to run a lot. After I broke my leg, I thought running was done, since I'd tried to do too much too fast, wound up in a ton of pain, and said "screw that." Knowing that a ton of traveling was on the come, I took another stab at it, did a slow build befitting the aged and infirm jackass that I am, and am getting along with it quite well. Shockingly, I'm not quite as slow as I'd feared - I snuck in a run on Friday night before having my family over for dinner and thought I was running (jogging, really) at like 9:15 pace or so. Nope, I was running (jogging, really) at 7:45 pace, which for me at this point, for 6 miles, is pretty good. I still have a lot of work to do to catch up to my 16 year old niece, though, who is proving to be an absolute asskicker at all things endurance related.

Being back in RI has some huge advantages for me. Let's face it, despite the fact that I deplore all Boston sports teams (which is in fact a subset of my deploring pretty much all pro sports except hockey), New England is my natural environment. So Saturday I windsurfed for the first time in like 4 years. It was pretty grisly conditions, pretty varsity in fact, but super fun. Thankfully I read the play when the breeze started to die and headed in. Then yesterday I went mountain biking and reacquainted myself with real rocks. My sight reading of the trail was poor (haven't been there but once in ten years), but when I re-did sections I nailed all of them. Pretty excited. And then in the hardest part, this drop section we called the dentist's chair (because if you fuck up you'll soon be in the dentist's chair), I just sailed through the A line on both laps, like it wasn't even there. Cool.

Maybe racing at this crit called Chris Hinds next Saturday, and then maybe a mountain bike tt on Sunday. The mtb thing is at Burlingame, where I haven't ridden since probably the 90s, so I'm set up for a major ass paddling, but whatever.