Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cows, Horses, Deer, and Empty Roads.

This cool sunny weather is so perfect for riding it's scary. Today I got 3 hours (60+ hard miles) in on some great roads. Hills, farms, hundreds of cows, 10's of horses, 20-30 deer and even a few other cyclists. The best part is there are hardly any cars. Training Nirvana!

I also think I found something in my diet that is really helping with sore muscles. I haven't felt this good in years, even after a hard ride. hmmm. Race this weekend and I haven't tapered at all, but that doesn't matter. I'm having fun.

Side Note: My bike is falling apart.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dim Sum.

I took the family down into Baltimore for Dim-Sum today at China Cafe. The place isn't much to look at, but the stuffed peppers and the sticky rice is the best I've ever had at a dim-sum place, and I've been to many. The rest was pretty standard fare. The prices are better than the other place I go in the Baltimore area. I miss Boston, Philly and New York Dim-Sum places though.

Sui Mai and Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaves.

Har Gao and Fish/Shrimp Paste Stuffed Peppers.

Spareribs in black bean sauce and Chinese Broccoli in Oyster Sauce.

Today's Ride: 35 Miles in damp dreary weather.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Nice Day for a Ride.

Today I headed out on my longer loop of about 4 hours. I've been meaning to get out for a longer easy ride for awhile now and it felt good to finally get the chance. I've been doing more shorter/faster workouts lately and feel like my endurance is still lacking in a lot of ways. There's no racing this weekend for me so figured this was the day.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Remember Your First Bike?

My first real bicycle was a Rollfast. It didn't look like the spiffy one in this pic, but it was red, cool, fast and made to last. Do you remember your first bike?

Go Astana! I Won the TTT Contest!

I was just notified by Astana that I won their TTT Contest from yesterday. Since I was only about 1/10th of a second off on my guess, I thought I had a good chance.

Thank you Astana! Stay Tuned for a full report when I recieve my goodies.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tour de Georgia.

I've been watching the Tour de Georgia on this week and it's been pretty good so far, but I wouldn't put the excitement level at Tour of California levels,... yet. I guess I'm kinda missing Cipollini. Slipstream was impressive in today's TTT. Slipstream is the real deal, a true world-class racing team able to compete with the CSC, High Road and Astana's of the World. We'll see how it goes when the roads start pointing up.

Side Note: Astana ran a competition to guess what their time would be in today's TTT. On they have their time listed as 19.40.27. I sent an entry in yesterday guessing it would be 19.40.12 VERY CLOSE. might be cool if I win the thing.

Tonight's Ride: With riding to and from the start and the group ride itself, I did a pretty hard 45 miles. I'm not sure what the total time was. My legs still didn't feel great, but I managed to hang in there for the most part. I'm still not very good on the hills, but 10 more lbs of weight loss and a little more fitness and I'll get there.

Left Nut of the Week! I'm not Worthy,...

I have a thing for dimples, as you can tell from that time-saving water bottle I featured before. So I'm giving my Left Nut of the Week to Zipp's 404 Tubular Wheels. Not only do I not have a bike worthy of such finery, I'd look silly chasing the peloton all day off the back with these on. Not that I'd care. They have Dimples!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Today's Commute.

Riding home from work today I came to the conclusion that I didn't feel very well on the bike. Heavy legs and no speed whatsoever. After last night's hard ride, and with tomorrow's group ride, I decided to take it easy tonight and spend time with the family.  I'm itching to get back on the bike already, so I guess it's a good thing.  15 miles is all I have to show for today. Oh well.

Torch Spotted! Maybe.

TLR NewsWire Update: The Olympic flame arrived in Australia on Wednesday for the next leg of the torch relay and was immediately whisked away to a secret location.

Nice Stuff!

Thanks to the Unholy Rouleur I'm now hooked on 1950's Italian Cycling Opera.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ramping up the Miles.

With the longer days and warmer weather come more miles in the saddle. Thankfully, my family is humoring me for now and letting me put in some more time each night after work. The Turkey Hill Country Classic is my next race so I have some time between now and then for some big miles.

Tonight's Training: 2hr/20minutes 46 miles, HILLS!

Monday, April 21, 2008

I Can Relate, Well, Sorta.

After watching riders race valiantly through rain of biblical proportions yesterday, I thought I'd head out on tonight's training ride in the rain just to not be left out. Actually, it wasn't raining when I left home, but the radar on had a lot of green stuff just west of here and heading this way.

Tonight's Ride: 2 Hours, 40 miles.

Broken Spoke Saga - The spokes on my front rim didn't actually break, they unthreaded and were rattling around inside the rim. I re-threaded them on and trued the wheel just enough to get out on tonight's ride. I'll straighten them a bit better later.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

More Pictures from the Carol Dolan Spring Classic.

Here are some more pics I took earlier today. Again, you can click on the image for a higher resolution version.

Fast Kelly Girl.

Digging Deep for the Sprint.

Waiting for the Start.

The Gladiators of the Peloton.

Hey, That's not a Harley!  Eventual winner (masters division) Team Battley Harley-Davidson.

Some pictures don't need explaining.

Where's the Ark when you need one. More Rain.

Carl Dolan Memorial Spring Classic.

click on image to enlarge.

This is my favorite picture from today's Carl Dolan Memorial Spring Classic Bicycle Race. The guy in front is from the Battley Harley-Davidson Team while the other is from Artemis Racing. I took this pic in-between torrential downpours. I'll post some more pics from the race when I get a chance.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

SoYoCo Circuit Race.

I had a pretty good week of training and was looking forward to today's race up in Brogue, York County, Pennsylvania. One thing I wasn't looking forward to was the 8am start time for the Cat4/5 race.

We hit the road by 5am with some pretty sketchy details in my head on how to find the place. A GPS in the car would be nice in such situations, but I've heard they really lead to brain rot since you're just sitting there following directions like a sheep and not finding your own way. I'm old-skool so I don't need no stinkin GPS or directions. Riiiggggghht. The sun was just coming up over some really beautiful farm countryside as we made our way the last few miles, following signs for the Chanceford Municipal Building/Recycling Center. Something interesting, to me anyway, is the matter-of-fact names given to roads up there. Short Cut Road, Bacon Road, Landfill Road, Gum Tree Road, Lucky Road, etc,.. Kinda cool, hmm, wonder who got lucky on lucky road?

We were the first ones to show up so it was nice chatting with the race organizers, super nice people, and taking my time preparing the bike and basically just enjoying the day.

That's when I hit another snag. After pumping up my rear tire, the valve stem came right off the tube along with the air-chuck on my pump. Yeah, that was nice, and yeah, I didn't have a spare tube with me. Stupid. After asking around a bit, I was lucky enough, Lucky Road thoughts coming back, to find a guy with extra tubes in his car so he sold me one. In a couple minutes and many thanks later, I was ready to go again.

If you think airport time is fast, you should experience how fast time flies before a bike race. It was now 7:30 and I've gotta warm up if I want to be prepared to start the race. It was a 2.5mile circuit, all right turns. The first 90 degree turn was at the bottom of a high speed hill, with a short upgrade, downgrade, up again, down to the next 90 degree turn, followed by a gradual up hill run, before another turn to a steep hill before the start finish. The road surface was very crunchy with a lot of gravel here and there, but it seemed as though they had cleared the corners pretty well. Cat4/5 riders, gravel, high speed, fast turns, nuff said.

The Race:

As suspected, the first trip down the steep hill to the first turn was fun. I could hear guys locking up brakes in front me on sections of gravel in the road, but everyone got through smoothly. I wouldn't say the pace was exactly fast, I've been on training rides much harder, but more like a chugging locomotive, fairly constant and seemingly building steam with each lap. A few breaks managed to dangle just ahead of the pack, only to be reeled in whenever the pack felt like it.

From what I could tell, I didn't look back, it was a race of attrition. Guys just started dropping off the back of the front group, one by one I'd say. In talking to my wife after, it wasn't on the final Start/Finish hill where they'd get dropped necessarily, but on that long uphill (false flat) backstretch. That sounds about right to my legs. The hill definitely had some effect on people's legs, but that back stretch was a drag. I noticed that every time we'd come around to the hill, guys were getting slowed down and I could move up front very easily. hmm. legs feeling pretty good I thought. I did a couple pulls up front hoping a couple more guys would drop off the back.

Last Lap:

On the last lap with the group down to about 15 guys through attrition, the speed definitely picked up. On that back straight is where I finally started to feel the race really moving and I had a hard time staying on the wheel in front of me, but I manged to hang on. We made the final turn to go up the hill and while digging deep my dam foot came out of my left pedal on the steepest section 75meters from the finish. Race over for me. I did manage to get back on the bike and finish at the tail end of front group. 12th place I think.

Wrap Up:

Disappointed? A bit, but at the same time I felt pretty good out there and now know more about how my riding is doing and where I have to go. Nowhere close to as fast as when I was really training and racing, not to mention younger, 15+ years ago, but I would say I'm having more fun doing it now. We hung around a while to watch some of the next race where some breakaways were looking much more successful than in my race. I also got to chat with the really nice race workers some more. Mari and Mae put some dandelions in my hair while sitting under a giant oak tree watching the race. Girls. I also got to take some photos of the action and the girls, before packing up and heading towards home.

Group 4/5 reunion at Cracker Barrel:

It seems a bunch of other riders had the same idea as us and stopped at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Shrewsbury, PA on trip back south of the border. As I was leaving I noticed a couple familiar faces sitting down to eat, and the parking lot had a lot of racebikes sitting on and hanging off cars. Good'ol southern homestyle cooking ALWAYS tastes great after a race.

Side Note: I broke a spoke on my front wheel somewhere along the way. I noticed it later when out riding with Mari and her new Pink cycling jersey and helmet. I'll have to see if I can fix that tomorrow. She looks so cute in that jersey. Mae will get one too when she starts riding. That won't be very long, she's a competitive kid.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

This Doesn't Look Fun.

Ouch, that's gotta hurt.

OK, on to more fun things. I did the Race Pace group ride again tonight, and they took it way easier on me this week. It was still fast, but I think Marc took a peek at his power meter after and confirmed my suspicions. I was kinda hoping it was just me getting faster. But oh well, it was fun. Another Race on Saturday so I'm glad it wasn't hellish fast like last week's ride.

Not Riding Enough. What else is New?

Spending 3 weekends working on a car instead of quality time in the saddle is a terrible thing. Time to ramp up the miles in quality and quantity again if I want to actually race instead of time-trial off the back sometime this year.

Complaining over.

Just Like Passo di Gavia. Left Nut of the Week.

20 years ago, there was a scrawny American billy goat that climbed his way into history during the Giro d'Italia. Andy Hampsten and his 7-11 Team in a way changed how racing through proper preparation is done in the high mountains of grand tours. That didn't stop ice from freezing on his forehead though. The classic looks of this bike suit me just fine. Back then, when I was 20lbs lighter than today and a pretty fair climber myself, I'd given my left nut for a bike like this one. I do kinda wish they made it in steel like the original though. Still,...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Engine Swap.

My brother and I finished up putting a new engine in my car this weekend. I suppose anyone could do it, given enough patience and the right tools, but I wouldn't suggest anyone try. It's running really well right now, but I have to get the front end aligned because we also put new struts and lower control arms on while we had the thing apart. Hoping we can get another 5 years out it. That would be wonderful.

Tonight's workout was intervals. Warm up for 30 minutes. 7x2 minute LT+ with 3 minute spin/rest in between. The last couple are always hard. 20 minutes rowing and 20 minutes on the elliptical to warm down. Not enough miles really, but the next two days are for that.

Joining a Club?

There's something that's been on my mind lately that I'll contemplate here in words. Should I join a team/club?

I became a runner, then later a bike racer in large part because I liked the idea of having some personal goals. Sometimes personal goals get in the way of team goals, (Do Cat4's and Cat5'ers have team goals even?) so why mess up someone else's dream with my own? Yeah, I know you can have both within the confines of a team, but,.... The amount of time, (one of, if not our most valuable asset) and the self-inflicted pain running and cycling dish out, are kinda personal also.

Now that I'm riding again, after a huge length of time away from the bike, the question rears it's ugly head once again. It might be kinda cool. Hmm. Should I? Shouldn't I?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

First Group Ride of the Year.

Well, I finally got off my lonely rider ass and did a group ride tonight. My local bike shop Race Pace Bicycles holds a Thursday night training ride. I had no idea what to expect. Riding alone and not doing any races doesn't exactly instill much confidence in one's abilities. Would I get dropped on the first hill? Will they feel sorry for me and wait WHEN I do get dropped?
I showed up at 5:30 just about when they were gonna take off. I figured the group of Kelly Benefits Jerseys were a clue as to where I was supposed to be so I sheepishly introduced myself. Hey, wait just a minute (I thought to myself), these guys seem kinda cool. hmmm.

Anyway, In my haste, I started out with only half a water bottle of water and it was warm out. By the end I was mighty thirsty. To make a long story short. I had a great time. They are fast. Damn Fast. We went about 40 hilly miles on some great roads.  Did I mention they are fast. Ouch. I have a lot of work to do. 

Will I ride with them again if they let me?  You Betcha. Thanks Howard, Marc and the rest of the guys for a good time.

I'm doing my first race in a LOOOOONG time Saturday. My goal is to hang in as long as possible and not try anything stupid. How's that for strategy?

Torker! Left Nut of the Week.

My Left Nut this week is all over this cool retro-tandom from Torker. I generally find tandem bikes almost as dorky as unicycles, which is great, since I also ride a unicycle and Torker sells them too! Here's the marketing shtick pasted directly from Torker's website.

The Bermuda 7 Speed, twist-shifting tandem will offer your family generations of cycling fun with its top-quality components found only on specialty bicycles, comfort saddle and 26” wheels.

Not much to go on there, but what more needs to be said really?

I must be growing up. I originally went to Torker to look at their cool Torker DX MUni, but one wheel is all about me. I can't be selfish now that I'm an old cuss. My only concern is how do I get this thing on my bike rack?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Ahhhh the Olympics.

The brain trust in California, along with their best buds, the Communist Chinese and the IOC have pretty much successfully ducked and dodged their way through the streets of San Francisco. Assuring that nobody, at least in the western world will be actually seeing the torch make it's way to Beijing for the olympics.

I wonder why they even bothered? What a joke.

Harley, Are you Listening?

In what seems like a cue taken from the American Car Industry, Harley has decided that Lowly Americans only want fat slow Harleys, while in Europe, they offer this somewhat fast (in a decidedly Harley way), no doubt extremely fun to ride beauty.

Please Harley, sell this here! I know you got burned back in the day with the XLCR1000 Hottie like the one Michael Douglas rode in Black Rain. But Come On Already! Enough is Enough! Some of us don't want crotch rockets that make us look like an ape humping a monkey. We want something like this!

I know, I could always take my own Sportster and make it look like an XR1200, but I don't want to. I want that! (See above)

Rant over.

As the Pedals Turn. Mutiny!

Being 500+ miles from home with nothing more than a few bucks in your pocket, a sleeping bag, a change of clothes and your bicycle under you is cool. Damn Cool. Just thinking about it has me yearning to take another trip far from home to see what's out there like can only be done on a bike.

This story is about life changing moments. We all have them. Moving away from Mom and Dad for the first time, getting fired, new job, marriage,... those are the big obvious ones. Sometimes a life changing moment can be something small. Like taking a left turn instead of a right at an intersection or even trying out a new coffee shop, discovering a coffee that tastes so good you find yourself stopping there every day for a fix like some junkie.

The particular one I'm thinking about now happened up along the Maine Coast years ago when my dad, my two younger brothers and I were touring New England on our bicycles. Dad took a few weeks off work in the summer, the busiest part of his work year, to ride with us from Pennsylvania to Maine and back. To say we were on a shoestring budget is an understatement, but somehow we knew we'd be alright. We slept in the woods along the road, under bridges, next to railroad tracks and rode all day, inching our way across the map until we'd reached the coast of Maine, continuing north into what is a really beautiful country.

Somewhere along the way, about 9-10 days into the trip, with finances running dangerously low, Dan, Chris and I seemed to come to the conclusion at the same time that we better turn around and start heading home. Dad was just up the road ahead of us. He stopped, put his feet down, turned and saw the three of us standing there in a group. I think in that moment he knew something was up. We told him our decision and that it was final. He was disappointed. We turned our bikes around and started south. Dad stood there alone for a bit, before finally following.

When you're fourteen, thirteen, and eleven like the three of us were at the time, you see things a bit differently than some guy who's been working 25 years, raising a family and paying taxes. I'll never forget the burst of energy I had when I knew we were finally heading towards home rather than away from it.

Today, given the same small life changing moment decision, I'd have continued on north with you Dad.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

LeMond and Trek. hmmm.

Today we learned that Greg LeMond's mouth is supposedly the reason behind Trek wanting to dissolve their relationship with LeMond Bicycles. You see, Greg is an outspoken anti-doping in cycling advocate, while Trek has aligned itself firmly behind Lance Armstrong. Trek says it's hurting sales. There is speculation that Lance may be behind some of this current situation. 

I'm a big fan of Greg LeMond, ever since I was a kid watching those great battles in the mountains and streets of France in the 1980's.  I was lucky enough to see him and Lauren Fignon in the Tour DuPont back in the day also. I hope Greg figures a way to continue making bicycles after Trek has left. I like his bikes, but wish he'd thicken up the font in his logo.

I hear Trek wants to concentrate on Klein bikes now. Good Luck, but I'm starting to get the feeling there won't be a Trek in my future with all that's going on over there.

Tonight's Training: Intervals. I did 6 gut wrenching 1 minute all out jumps with 4 minute tempo/rest between. The last two were tough. 30 minutes warm-up on the track, 35 minutes on the bike with intervals. 20 minutes rowing. 30 minutes on the elliptical. Tomorrow I want to do 50+ miles of easy riding. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Late Start, Ride Fast.

Tonight I didn't hit the road until 6:15 so I had to really move if I wanted to get the 35 mile loop in before dark. On a few of the hills during this ride I noticed something. My hill climbing is become smoother and more powerful with less time out of the saddle. A pretty good sign. I'm going to start searching out a few races to see how I'm doing. All that news over on Gamjams has got me itching to race, it's been awhile.

Totals: 35 miles. 1 hour: 40 minutes.

Rest in Peace Mr. Heston

Hollywood doesn't make'm like they used to. Movies or Men. Charlton got it.

Old Training Grounds Visit.

This weekend, while everyone around here was racing at Walkersville and Tyson's Corner, I got to ride on what I think are some of the best training roads anywhere. Extended mountain climbs and traffic free roads. A guy could really get some quality miles in there.

Note: To the Minivan driver that I blew past at 60+mph in the dark, it wasn't a UFO, it was just me havin fun.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

You Can Do It George!

I'm lifting a beer tonight to George Hincapie. I'm hoping he can come through and win one of the big races coming up. He's been oh so close. Maybe this year. Dunno if he can overcome the terrible High Road kit design though. Ptui!

Tonight's Training: Today's weather was absolutely miserable and I'm a wuss so I spun easy on the trainer for an hour while listening to podcasts. Yesterday was a tougher day so the rest felt good.

Breaker One9! Left Nut of the Week!

Sorry about the CB Lingo, I couldn't help myself, but on seeing the Niner One9 I was thrown immediately back to my childhood and how riding a bike felt like the greatest thing on earth. My mom still tells stories of how that even before I could ride a bike at 4, I was pushing my brother Tony's bike everywhere, including a mile or two to my uncle's dairy farm. That's Freedom. So, my Left Nut of the Week is all about big kid fun!

It's not an overstatement to say that I NEEED a bike like this. For bombing around the trails, riding the neighborhood with my kids, or commuting to work even, the One9 suits me well I think. I'll take one in Orange please?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Pretty good day.

Today I was notified that 2 of my watch designs are going to be shown at the Baselworld 2008 Watch and Jewelry Expo in Switzerland. Another company will hopefully be showing a prototype of a watch I've been designing for them that will be coming out later this year. I'm pretty happy about that. Not only that. Mari came home from school with a fancy certificate/citation stating that one of her pieces of artwork has been chosen to be displayed at the State Capitol Building in Annapolis. I'm so proud of her.

As far as riding: I did 50 miles today in blustery, but sunny and not that cold conditions. Total time: 2.5hrs. Mari was all dressed up and ready to go for a ride when I got home. She says in a year or two she'll be faster than me. Now THAT would be cool.

Did I mention Wind?

There's enough wind out there to power any one of Al Gore's mega-mansions. Yowch!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Shorts, Sun and WIND!

I couldn't wait to get out of work tonight and go on a ride with nothing on but shorts and a jersey. It felt GREAT! I love this time of the year when it's not hot, but not cold. Much like Autumn, but with the days getting longer everything feels so alive.

I saw a couple other riders out there. All waving, seemingly in the same mood as me.

Totals: 35 miles. 1 hour: 45 minutes. Plus I rode around the neighborhood with Mari when I got home. That was fun. She's getting fast already. She even said she wants to race in a few years. Pink Bike.

Lance in Argyle!!!

AP: In a shot across ASO's bow, Lance Armstrong announced today that he will be coming out of retirement to race for Slipstream in an attempt to take an 8th Tour de France in 2008. Jonathon Vaughters, Johan Bruyneel and the very French looking John Kerry (Three Johns) introduced Lance at a press conference in front of the Eiffel Tower earlier today to make the announcement.

Lance, looking fit as ever, noted his decision to ride came to him when he was inspecting his feces yesterday morning. He noted, "I just looked down and it reminded me of the ASO and how they are treating the riders." He went on, "My domestiques this year are going to be the newly appointed argyle clad riders Alberto Contador and Levi Leipheimer. We will have an announcement on them later at the McDonald's in front of UCI president Pat McQuaid's Champs Elysees penthouse." "The French are only behind the USA in pounds of McDonald's consumption worldwide." touted the very French looking Kerry. "...just one more thing we are better than the French at,..." said Armstrong.

The ASO, spotted at their normal hide-out/bistro, declined comment when asked about Lance's decision.