Sunday, August 31, 2008

What a Day for a Ride.

Today was one of those perfect days for a ride you get once in awhile. Fairly low humidity, not too hot, and sunny. I couldn't sleep this morning so I got up and read some news online at about 4am, then Mae came downstairs soon after and told me she had a bad dream. Her and I kept each other company for awhile until she got tired (bored) again and led me upstairs in the dark. That kid can see in the dark!

Then we got up for real and I made pancakes and bacon for everyone. :)

My Ride: Well, I got a message on my phone from the shop Friday afternoon with a question regarding the new shifters/front and rear derailleur set I ordered so I decided to stop by there first to straighten that out. From there I headed out towards Boring, Maryland. Yeah there's a place called Boring. I'll take boring any day on a ride if it means no traffic and beautiful country roads. From there I weaved my way east towards Falls Road, then back on Caves Road towards home. About 2.5 hours total. I've been feeling really slow on the bike the last week or so for some reason and I'm not exactly sure why. I did see a lot of other riders out there, way more than usual. That's always nice.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Group Ride Goings On.

Tonight we had a small group riding out of the shop and with the rain, we decided to go a bit shorter than normal. 2hours vs our normal 2.5hours. Every week I tell myself the same thing. I'm going to take it easy this week and hang in the back to catch up with all the gossip and generally just have fun. Of course, that lasts all of about 10 minutes into the ride. Marc will take off up the road and I'll follow like a farm dog chasing cars. I swear these group rides are harder than 90% of the races I did this year. If I really push it on these rides, I can generally hang on in the hills and the flats long enough to get to the wait points up front.

Tonight was different, either my legs just didn't want to go, or Marc was riding extra fast. He dropped me on Caves Road near the top and it took a real effort to catch his wheel on the flats that followed. My new Vittoria Rubino's have ZERO traction on wet hills so I couldn't put any power down to stay on his wheel. That and my legs just didn't have anything tonight. I'm going to spin easy tomorrow to try and recover for an extra long ride over the weekend. I'm still having a tough time getting motivated, but these group rides keep things interesting.

In other news: It's almost here :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Beating the Rain.

Meteorology, some weather guys call it a science. Hah! I'm sitting there at work near quitting time and make a run over to to see what my ride is gonna be like tonight and it's showing rain. A huge band of rain heading towards Baltimore. Of course, I have to ride anyway, so I headed out on one of my longer loops with hills and figured I'd go extra fast to beat the rain. It didn't rain one bit and I got a really fast ride in. Thank you!

Tonight's Ride: 2 hours, 15 minutes: 45 miles. Hills! Felt really good.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Getting Dark Early.

Ahh, that time of year again. The girls are back in school and it starts getting dark noticeably earlier. The training since Millersburg has been patchy at best. First it was nasty saddle sore (You really don't wanna know) recovery time, then it was 3 really good days of training, then a couple days off the bike again. Tonight was good though. I feel my legs are well rested and I can go pretty hard again. I would really like to do one or two more races this year, but it's getting harder and harder to stay motivated. Work has been really busy too, so that's not helping.

Tonight's ride. A couple hours with a few sustained hard efforts (5-10 minutes each) and rest a bit harder than a normal easy ride. Looking forward to Thursday's group ride.

New Bike for 2009.

The process has begun. I'm starting with a frame (already ordered and tracking on FedEx) and going from there for 2009. It should be done and ready by then. Stay tuned for updates. :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Riding with the Brakes On.

Last night I get 2 miles from home, have a flat, didn't feel like fixing it cause it felt nearly impossible to turn the pedals. I called up my wife to come pick me up. Turns out my back brake was rubbing HARD against the rim. Yeah, it felt kinda tough. In other news. my front rim throws off a couple spokes now and then. 3 the night before last.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tour de Millersburg Stage Race Recap.

What a great weekend! That sentence could pretty much sum up my time up in Millersburg, PA for the Tour de Millersburg Stage Race. First off, I gotta say kudos to the town of Millersburg and to the race promoter for putting on a great event. The way the town came together and the amount of spectators was inspiring. Bob Roll was even there! I imagine this race is only going to get bigger and bigger. The area is perfect for a stage race. Tip to Organizers: Add some real hills to the road race to weed out some of the sprinters. OK, now on to the race.

TT (WTF?!?): I put on my clip-on bar for the first time ever Saturday morning, warmed up well and headed out for my start of the TT. My start time was 8:56AM. The weather was perfect, very little wind. The course was laid out along the Susquehanna River on a perfectly smooth road with some ever so slight ups and downs. A fast course. I got out fairly smoothly and started to gain on my 30 second man, keeping him in my sights, never pushing too hard as to kill myself, but pushing hard enough to figure I'd pass him at the turn-around and see what I had left for the second half. I don't have a computer on my bike which I now know is a big mistake for a TT. It's tough to actually judge how fast you are going, or how far you have left to go.

I got passed by two guys right before the turn-around #144 and #146, the Squadra Coppi Guy was FAST!!!! I started to increase my speed at that point and maintained my distance pretty well behind the Bayside Velo guy, but the Squadra Coppi dude just kept going. My Catch guy kept looking back (Funny!) and even got out of the saddle on one of the "hills" before I passed him. He went right around me again, then proceeded to die. I went around him again and kept going this time. At the finish I felt like I had a pretty good run, but knew I had more in me. Next time I'll have a computer. This is where things got weird. The #142 guy came in over 30 seconds behind me, yet in the results it says he did a 29:42 while saying I did 32:00. WTF?!!!! I know I was faster than 32, and way faster than him. I'm figuring with him starting 30 seconds ahead of me, and me beating him by over 30s at the line, my real time was somewhere in the mid 28's. 28:30/28:45 range. They also could have switched our times, with him having the 32:00, but he wasn't THAT far behind me. I should have disputed this, but didn't. Anyway. I know about what I did so the results don't matter much in the end. Still a mid-pack crappy time anyway. Plenty of room for improvement in the time-trial. I suck at it. Next year I'm going to train for the TT, do more TT's and look into an aero helmet, aero wheels at least to help out.

Criterium: I'm not much of a sprinter, so my goal for the Crit was to stay near the front, stay out of trouble, and hang on for the best finish possible. So much for a plan. The course started on a small hill, not steep, but kinda long for a crit. The rest was fast downhills, two 90 degree rights, then a straight to the finish. I think the race was something like 11 laps/20 miles. People were racing crazy I tell'ya. I'd get up near the front, then have a group of guys dive inside before the corners and re-take my position. This went on for a bunch of laps until one of the wrecks happened. Of course, right in front of me. I had to stop, walk my bike around the pile, run over a water bottle, jump back into the pedals and start my chase. I chased HARD for a half lap and noticed Kyle Jones up ahead with one of his teammates I think. I kept thinking to myself, If I can JUST get on Kyle's wheel I'll be OK. Luckily, up the hill the pace slowed down and I made contact. I was the last guy to regain contact with the pack as there was nobody behind me at this point. Kyle started working his way up the inside and I followed him. He attacked and I would have loved to have gone with him, but was dead from my chase. I sat in and recovered for the sprint and ended up finishing at almost the tail end of the main bunch, actually passing a few guys. Lesson from the Crit: I need more experience in Crits. This is only my second crit of my second racing career and I need to work on cornering and maintaining my position, rather than drifting back then wasting energy working my way back up. I won't do stupid stuff like some of those guys diving into the inside of the corners though.

Road Race: Ahhh, the road race. I was looking forward to this one. 54 miles, 3 laps of rolling and absolutely beautiful countryside. My original plan was to go with the first break-away attempt and see what happens. Plan Foiled Again! 30 minutes before the race I hopped on my bike and noticed that a spoke had unthreaded, dangling, and my front wheel was bent to hell. I had to work fast to get the tire/rimstrip off, rethread it, true it, put it back together, and head downtown to the start. I made it, with not much warm-up and lined up next to Kyle Jones and Terry Anderson of Haymarket. I just want to say that though I know of both riders through their blogs, it was a pleasure to speak to them for the first time in person. Both great guys. It was nice talking over the previous days races with them for perspective. The race was going to have a neutral start out of town. (Good Warm-Up Thanks!) Again, perfect weather and great roads for racing. I worked my way up near the front to be ready for the first attack so I could go along. I didn't go on the first attack, but waited for the inevitable Kyle Jones Breakaway, which did come. He got up the road a bit and I bridged up to him, going around, and we traded a couple pulls before one other rider joined us. The other rider went to the front and I got on his wheel, we traded a pull or two before I realized this isn't going to work so well. Kyle had already drifted back to the bunch and I noticed the pack was catching us after only about a mile. I pretty much sat up and got back into the pack.

Attack after attack would go up the road, but the peloton was never really interested in letting anyone go. They would get a couple hundred yards at most before the bunch would string out at 35mph and catch back up. This happened the whole race as there really wasn't enough hills to break the group up. I wish race promoters would put a few longer climbs in to get rid of the big guys and pure sprinters, but realize it's tough to close down a course with it strung out over miles and miles of road. This race was gonna come down to a bunch sprint I know it. Blah.

I hung around the pack, took a few pulls on the second lap, guys did a lot of shouting at each other, and generally tried to bide my time until the 3rd lap to see if there wouldn't be another opportunity to go for it again. With about 5 miles to go in the race, I attacked on a smallish hill and went for it. I went really hard into the headwind and up the hill and got a pretty nice gap, but soon realized two things. I was too far from the finish to make it stick, and not fast enough to make it stick. The pack started to reel me in when a Spinners guy went around me, I couldn't even hold his wheel and decided it was time to sit up, wait for the pack, and try and stay with the bunch for the sprint. We got into town and the pace really got fast finally. I guess on one corner, the bunch actually split into two. I was in the front bunch, made it around the last turn in the pack and got passed by a few guys at the finish. Overall, a good race, but nothing special (actually crappy) for my own results. I guess I ended up 33rd, 7th in Cat4.

This might be my last race of the year if I can't get into the Giro di Coppi next month. If you enjoy racing, head to Millersburg next August, you won't be sorry.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

TLR Olympic WebCam!

Here at TLR we spare no expense in bringing you the images you want to see. If you haven't noticed, the Olympics in Beijing are going on. We've worked tirelessly both here at the TLR Center and with our team of engineers in Beijing to bring you live webcams from most of the Olympic Venues in and around the beautiful city of Beijing. Check back often to look in on the action.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Hills of Fire, I Stand Corrected.

I had a great weekend at my annual Family Reunion. This year my sister in Ohio decided to host the event, so I packed up the girls and headed west Saturday morning. My wife had to work this weekend, her new job doesn't allow any time off yet, but I really wish she could've went with us. I missed having her around.

Several months ago my sister asked if I could do the ALS charity ride they have near her home and since they had a 64 miler on the event list how could I refuse? Of course, drinking beer and eating party food all day after a 6 hour drive on Saturday isn't the great prep for a 7am Sunday ride, but it doesn't really matter in the end right? My brother Chris also decided to do the ride. He doesn't ride, but he's quite a good runner so I had no doubt he'd fair well out there. Cathy signed up for the 25 mile loop and her husband Phil did the 50 mile loop. What a great time!

We started off about 7:30am. There's no set start time so people just roll out randomly all morning long after the official 7:00am start. The ride went along the Chagrin River, and you know what? Ohio really does have Hills of Fire! I soon found myself huffing and puffing up some pretty steep climbs, passing guys in flourescent vests and rearview mirrors all along the way. At one point I saw a guy way up ahead of me turn, look, and speed up. Hey!! he's trying to drop me I thought, so put in an effort and passed him, saying good morning, like I did everyone I passed along the way. He didn't say a word, I think he was in oxygen debt, beyond being able to speak.

I was rolling along well, chewing up the miles along some truly beautiful scenery and really quaint Ohio towns. It's nice out there. I put in some hard hill efforts and really went hard the last 5 miles. I ended up finishing in about 3 hours, 15 minutes. About 20mph average including a stop for food and drinks at one of the rest stops along the way. Overall a great workout and a great time. They served lunch when I got back and had a live band playing some great blues.

A good weekend. Thanks Phil and Cathy for having us. :)

Friday, August 01, 2008

It's Not About the Bike, BUT,...

In keeping with the Lance theme, on last night's group ride right after I wondered why I punish myself like this on hills, I asked myself the question; Is it about the bike? After a few minutes of that question rolling around in my alien exoskeleton helmeted head and ogling my riding buddies' bikes, I came to the conclusion that of course it's not about the bike. After all, my 20lb steed gets me through races, group rides, long solo rides, rain, wind, weather, rides with my daughter around the neighborhood and commuting to work. Then I found myself putting a giant Sir Mixalot BUTT on the end.

BUT,... Marc's Pinarello Prince, Eric's Scott Addict, Mike's Cervelo, Mark's Felt, and everyone else's bike but mine sure are perty.