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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Oh My Aching Neck!

Man I did something nasty to my neck on yesterday's ride. I can't turn left. OUCH! oh well. I did 45 miles today in the stinkin heat, and felt pretty good except for my neck that is.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hot or Cold?

Out there while burning under the hot sun on one my longest training rides of the year I began to think back to January and those cold day training rides. It's not that easy deciding which I'd prefer. hmmm, oh well. I guess I'll just have to get used to it. I went 4 hours today easy recovery from a pretty tough week of riding. I felt better and better as the ride went along. The tailwind while coming back on Liberty helped.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Dear John,

The following request to change your USCF category has been approved
and processed by USA Cycling: CAT 5 to CAT 4. Yippeee! Alright, now I guess I should start training. :p

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Upping the Mileage and,...

Since Red Rose went belly up, my racing calendar got a lot more open. Sooo, it's time to up my miles, along with more focused work on my weaknesses. Sprinting, Sprinting and,... yeah, Sprinting!

I know I've lost a few pedal strokes on hills over the years, but my sprinting has become somewhat of a joke. I'm gonna try to do something about that over the next several weeks to see what happens.

Tonight's group ride was absolutely brutal. I was running late and noticed them leaving when I showed up. I wasn't sure if they were the slow group or the fast group, so I jumped out of my car, took my bike off the rack and started my chase. Turns out it was the slow group. I caught them and went by because I wanted to get some hill work in. We do this nasty hill that has a 17% slope every week. I went to the top fast, turned around and did it again. I was completely spent when the fast group caught up.

Turns out, the fast group isn't racing this weekend so they decided to go a bit longer than normal. I wasn't very prepared with only one small waterbottle full, but what the hell, give it a shot right? Marc and Pete went up the road and got a gap on the rest of us over some small up hills, then down a steep one before this long uphill drag to our next wait point. I spotted them up the hill ahead of me and decided I'd try to catch them. I laid down a pretty fast tempo and did manage to catch them near the top and kept going to the wait point. I felt damn good about that catch, but it took a lot out of me.

The rest of the ride after that was basically just hanging on for dear life. No water in my bottle. At one point, a guy behind us took a shortcut through a field on his Pinarello Paris to try and catch up. That was funny. At another point heading down some steep hills I cooked my brakes and almost didn't make the curve at the bottom. Fun!

Anyway, the last hill of the night did me in. Marc, Clark and Pete got a gap on me and kept it until the finish. Those guys are freakin strong riders. I was good up until that point but just couldn't take any more. Overall, a great night of riding. Cold beer time now. :)

Never Saw This One Before.



I think Clooney is one of the better actors out there. I enjoyed this one today. Nice to see there's at least one actor out there that doesn't act or look all metro. I hear he's gay?

Olympic Hopeful, Amazing.

49 year old Jeannie Longo is headed to the Olympics. I remember her beating everyone when I was a kid, and it looks as though she's still at it. Simply Amazing. Now I have someone to cheer for in Beijing.

Grand Départ

Some might notice I've changed most of my blog yellow in honor of the Tour de France. I really wanted to avoid the Tour this year for leaving Astana out of the mix for some unknown reason I guess only a French Sports Organization could dream up, but I can't. It's The Race.

Not only that, but some of my relatives recently moved back to France from Singapore and live within minutes of where the Grand Depart in Brest takes place. Oh how I wish I could be there to enjoy the racing with my nephews Yanni and Yves. Pierre/Vel? Please take the boys to see a bit of racing. Never know what might spark the interest in one of them. Could be the next Bernard Hinault, or Lauren Fignon, I mean, Bernard Hinault!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

2 Hour Ride, Negroni Finish.

As I type this, my fingers and toes are tingling from the Negroni based dinner I had after my ride tonight. You see, the girls are in PA for a much needed summer vacation, so we are living large here on the back deck, grilling steaks, fresh garden picked esparagus and drinking exotic concoctions. Negronis!

I will blame the influence of Pez for the Negroni fixation this week. I gotta say, they are a nice way to end a day. Not to mention, after riding hard they are quite refreshing.

Anyway. 2 hours riding, fairly easy. Tomorrow is another hard day.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Training Well VS. Racing Well.

Have you ever run into anyone that'll blow your doors off on a training ride, yet for some reason, he/she never seems to live up to their potential in a racing situation? Or, the opposite, you know a slacker who seems to train slow and lays low during training rides, yet comes out to play on race day and kicks butt. I've known/know some like this and find the topic fascinating. Verrrrry Interesting.

Coming Around.

Tonight was our normal Tuesday group ride out of Lutherville and I felt much better than in past weeks. I think some of the time off the bike (2 day rests), along with the great racing over the weekend helped me get back on track. Now it's time to refocus for the last part of my season so I can upgrade to Cat IV for next year. Kinda sucks starting over like this, but the racing has been fun and it feels good to be in some kind of shape again.

Relatively easy ride tomorrow before another hard day Thursday. Have fun out there!

Knock Knock,...

The welcome sign is out, but nobody's home it seems. I wonder if they'll ever get around to updating this site.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dan Spencer Memorial Road Race Recap.

This weekend was the eventful for two reasons. It was the start of my daughters' summer vacation at my parents back home, and my return to racing back where I started racing a LONG time ago. It felt great to be racing in the beautiful mountains of PA again. The course itself wasn't that hilly but there was a nice test (1km climb) near the start finish line that was sure to put some gaps in the field. I was entered in the Cat4/5 race of about 42 miles or so (3 laps).

My dad got to come to the race which was a rare treat for me. He used to race bikes until he broke his hip in a bad spill at a 50miler we were in quite a few years back. He can still ride, but has hung up the shorts for now. My brother Tony, along with Chris and his wife got to come watch also. I had some high expectations with so many people watching. Anyway, on to the race.

The course started with a lot of level and downhill for the first 5 miles or so before turning left up a short very bumpy hill, then up and down false flats, up a little rise, then down again before the left turn up the big hill to the finishing straight. I had a feeling the race would start out fairly slow because of that hill and sure enough it did, which was nice since I didn't have much of a warm-up beforehand.

There were attacks going up the road all the time, but nothing looked serious. They would get maybe 100 yards up the road and just dangle there until it was time to reel them in again. I stayed up near the front and took a few pulls to try and keep the pace up. It seemed to me that the same 3 or 4 guys did most of the work up there, which led me to believe they'd be the same guys there at the end. There's a huge disparity of fitness in Cat 4/5 races.

The pack surprisingly stayed pretty well together the first lap and the second until we got to the hill where it pretty much blew up, leaving me and about 9 other guys to fight for the finish. I was looking for my feed-zone water being held by my sister-in-law, but she moved on up the road a bit from where I saw her the lap before. I was totally out of water and got a bit behind looking for her. I had to sprint to catch back up to the front group myself. Slowly, guys started reeling us in and the group got back up to 15 for the final push up the hill to the finish. I felt pretty strong and was liking my chances at this point. 3 guys attacked on the small hill on the back straight and actually got a fairly big lead. I was getting seriously worried now and decided, along with a few others that it was time and we started flying towards the finish with attack after attack going up the road, trying to bridge up the front 3. Each time we got a bit closer. Finally at the bottom of the hill, perfect timing, we made the catch and went around them. With my luck, a guy in front of me lost his chain downshifting for the hill and slowed me down. That kinda sucked but it wasn't a game breaker. I got around him, but the gap to the front 3 was opened up to about 10 yards at this point. I did manage to maintain 4th until the top of the hill. That's when my pathetic sprint took over, getting edged out at the line by 3 more riders, all of us getting Same Time. I ended up 7th overall, 3rd in Cat V. Not too bad but I can't help thinking what could've been if I had played that last mile or two smarter. Yeah Yeah, broken record, No Excuses!

Bloomsburg Town Park Criterium: For the heck of it, I entered today's 15 mile Cat V criterium in Bloomsburg, got a double flat on the 10th lap, race over. DNF. But it was a beautiful day and the girls played hard on the biggest jungle gym I've ever seen. My dad and I watched the Pro race with 5 laps to go, and the peloton together, I made my prediction it would be the Rite-Aid guy taking the sprint. Sure enough he did. He was a monster out there. Good Call!

And One More Thing: Thank you organizers of the road race for not insulting us CAT IV/V people with some lame 20k road race. 42 miles with some hills is a huge step in the right direction. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Garmin Navigates it's Way into Pro Cycling.

First Columbia, now Garmin. Professional cycling just got a bit more American this week when Garmin decided to become the title sponsor of Slipstream/Chipotle. Sounds like a perfect fit to me. Garmin is global, makes some great gadgets for riders, and fans of riders.

Now if Rock Racing can up the ante and make the jump across the Atlantic. Dunno about them though, they still seem a bit dysfunctional to me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Group Ride.

I had a terrible ride tonight at our little Tuesday night group ride. It started out ok, but as the ride wore on, I just ran out of gas. That hasn't happened in awhile. In fact, at one point my calf cramped up. That's new too. Hmm, I'm hoping it just wasn't my night and tomorrow will be better.

Tomorrow's an easy day with a few jumps to loosen up the legs. I hope there's something there for this weekend's race. We'll see.

What's Up with Robbie?

Robbie is a pretty fine sprinter. In fact, most of the time he doesn't need no stinkin lead-out. He can do it alone. I do wonder what he has against Switzerland though. After his stage win yesterday (Update: He won again today), he called the Tour organizers F'in this and that, and even the country itself wasn't spared from his wrath. Cancellara, a guy who never sides with his fellow riders it seems said Robbie should've been sent home. LOL

Still though, going ape on the tour organizers isn't so nice, but ranting on the country, that's something else. I mean, it's Switzerland, they're neutral after all. Well, unless you count hiding Nazi blood money and Govt. backed trading of nuclear secrets to known terrorist sponsoring states.

Update 2: Today Robbie says he loves Switzerland, Fabian isn't convinced.

Bangin on Drums.

I was just strumming my guitar and thought about my old crappy drum set that spent so many years gathering dust in my parents garage along with my old racing bikes. That reminded me of a particular drum set I thought was the coolest thing ever when I was a kid. So I took a walk over to the Premier Drums website and can you believe it, they make a Keith Moon Pictures of Lilly Re-Issue set. They call it Spirit of Lilly, but it's just like the original.

I would get in so much trouble with the neighbors if I had this thing. Funny how he set his tom-toms so flat when he played in those days.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Jumping "On" the Bus!

Alright, I just can't help it. I'm starting to get the Obama Fever. Are you feeling it? I was sitting here eating a salad during lunch and decided it was time to throw whatever support I can his way. Soooo, as a lowly designer/illustrator, I whipped together this t-shirt design with all proceeds from it's sale going to Obama's old church. They could really use the money now that Obama threw them under the bus like he does everyone else he associates with long enough they've fallen off his bus.

Funny Quote Today - Taken from Gore's Endorsement Party for Obama:

...Obama stoked lasting Democratic anger over the 2000 outcome when he recognized Gore as "the winner of the popular vote for president."

"You remember that," Obama said as the crowd of 20,000 erupted in raucous applause...

Wait a second Barry, didn't Hillary just beat you in the popular vote? My oh my what a short memory you have. Or more likely, you're just plain stupid. Correction, you see your voters as stupid.

Team Columbia.



It looks like we won't have to be looking at the Team HighRoad kit after the start of this year's Tour de France. The Columbia Sportswear Company has picked up sponsorship of the team for the next several years. With the team's successes in 2008, I would say it's a no brainer for Columbia. Way to go everyone involved in the organization!

I hate to say it, but I think I'm actually gonna miss that cheesy looking highroad logo.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Not So Nice Sunday Ride.

Well, this weekend was pretty much a bust riding wise. (reminder to self, don't read any race reports from gamjams bloggers tomorrow) Friday evening was easily one of my best rides of the year. I was dancing on the pedals and flying up hills while sitting in the saddle. Saturday I didn't ride at all. (damn!) Today I headed out for what was supposed to be a 3 hour hilly ride, and when I got out there my legs just didn't want to turn. I ended up doing about 1.5 hours slow, came home and ate like a pig, drank a couple beers and generally just fattened myself up. (Double Damn!)

There's always tomorrow I guess. On a more important note,... Happy Father's Day Dad, and to all the dad's out there!

Astana TTT Contest Wrap.

I finally got a chance to take a closer look at the stuff I won in the Astana Tour de Georgia TTT Contest. Here's how the whole thing went down.

I was watching the Tour de Georgia online and wanted to do some research on Team Astana. That's when I found out they were running a contest on their website. What they wanted was for people to guess Astana's elapsed time in the TTT on the Road Atlanta Race Course. Well, I happen to be a car racing fan and know that Road Atlanta has some pretty nasty little hills. Time's are not going to be "that" fast. They set it up to be a 10 mile TTT. Ofcourse, Astana has one of the world's best time trial riders in Levi Leipheimer. The way he completely crushed everyone in the last time trial of last year's Tour de France proved that. But this is a team time trial, he'll have be dragging some asses around the course.


Anyway, my guess was that they'd do it in 19:40:12. They ended up crossing the line at 19:40:27. I was less than 1/5th of a second off! I kinda figured I had a good chance with that guess.

Sure enough, they emailed me the next day to congratulate me. I wasn't exactly sure what they were going to send but I'm pretty happy with the stuff I received in the mail earlier this week. It included signed player cards from the riders in the Tour de Georgia, player cards from the rest of the team, A signed issue of Velo News with Levi's picture on the cover. I bike number card from this year's Three Days of de Panne. Aaron Kemp's to be exact, and an Astana rubber band to hold them all together. Pretty Cool! Especially for just guessing a ttt time.

I'm going to take all this to a friend on my club who owns a framing business to see if he can make it into something nice for my office wall. I'm not really a memorabilia collector, but now I might just start.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Camping out for Bicycle Race Entry?

The last time I camped out to get for an event was for a Who Concert back in the day, OK, I didn't actually camp out, my brother sat by the phone with his credit card. I hate lines. I'm so glad I remembered to jump on the computer last night to enter this year's Giro di Coppi bicycle race. The Cat 4 and 5's sold out in 5 minutes or something. Crazy!

I'm in!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Is there a more beautiful sport?

OK, maybe women's beach volleyball, but that's it. Just Breathtaking.

Record Breaking!


This morning I broke my PR by almost 10 minutes for this 35 mile loop I do a few times a week. Sure, I motorpaced behind an SUV down Liberty Road in morning rush hour, but whatever it takes right?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wouldn't Ya Know?


A few days after the rest of my bicycle racing season is decimated by some scoundrel named David Butterworth, my new team kit comes in the mail.

On a slightly more positive note, The Team Astana Swag I won during the Tour de Georgia is here. I'll try and post some pics of everything when I get a chance.

Cool Pic.

Yeah yeah, Valverde took the lead today, but I just had to mention the pic of George Hincapie's win yesterday. Up there in the header (For Now). Look at George's teammate over there on the right with the arm up, and all smiles.

Winning is not easy no matter who you are, so when your teammate wins it's gotta be a happy time. We get this a lot in cycling, but I never get tired of seeing it. Way to go George, and High Road!

Riding in the Morning

This morning I tried something different. I got up at 5am and did a couple hours of riding before work. Not bad, not bad at all. Today is the last day of school for the girls so it looks like these morning rides might have to be my new routine. I gotta say the smell of pancakes on the griddle, bacon and eggs (I'm thinking over easy) with a side of home fries wafting through the air as I ride through the sleepy Maryland countryside is pretty damn cool. Makes me hungry though.

On a positive note, it will give me more time to spend with them in the evenings.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hincapie!

Wow, what a finish. Hincapie has some incredible form to fight off the pack like that. Wow!!!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Hot Hot Hot

I got out there for a good 2.5 hour fast hilly ride tonight and it felt really good. Heat and all. I'm gonna try and look for at least 5 or 6 more races to do this year. Not easy now that Red Rose is in a shambles. Giro di Coppi looks really cool. Anyone have any experience with that race?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Camping in the Small Chainring

At work today (yesterday, I just looked at the clock) my ass was dragging. Coffee couldn't even lift me out of that falling asleep while walking down the hall feeling. Thursday's group ride had me trying to climb with the rail thin guys, and sprinting with the way faster than me guys so today it was about staying awake, plain and simple.

I got home, changed into a pair of 20+ year old cycling shorts, with real chamois, that were so worn out and thin I had to wear shorts over them to cover spots. All my other shorts were to be washed and they were all I had left. It was tough going out there but I did manage to get in a couple hours of riding, and actually everything started feeling better by the end. Everything except my ass that is.

Those shorts have to go.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Coming out of the Woodwork.

Tonight was our biggest group ride of the year and I wanted to kick some butt. Especially on the hills. If I was just 10lbs lighter. Look out! I gotta say, group rides are a good thing in small doses. It's fun trying things to see what you have. In a race, it's always a gamble when you break away. Getting caught, then hanging on for dear life or worse, dropped. That's no fun. On a group ride though, you can hammer away as hard as you want and if you're dropped, so what?

Everyone was talking about Red Roses. I can't get away from the damn thing. Though I bet it adds a few watts to my non-existent power meter every time I hear it.

Trickle Down Economics.

It's been almost 10 years now since the Dot Com boom of the 1990's and it looks like all that wealth that was created almost overnight has finally trickled it's way down to me. Today I got a snazzy new (new to me) Aeron Chair. Yes, the same chair made famous by 19 Year-Old Overnight Gazillionaires. One night you're playing Crash Bandicoot in mom's basement,... all of a sudden an idea for napster hits during a Doritos High,... 10 years later, your old chair ends up in John's office.

Wooohooooo! I gotta say, the chair looks cool, I'm ridin in style now!

Left Nut of the Week!

With all the news swirling around the Red Rose Race Series fiasco,... "Swirling" John? Who the hell cares about bike racing anyway?

Ok, OK! let me start over,...

I'm going to give my Left Nut of the Week this week to something that doesn't even exist it seems. This week's left nut is being given to:
  1. A Cat 5 road race of more than 25 miles
  2. Has a hill over 7ft high
  3. Has a field of over 30
  4. Doesn't cost more than 82 Countries' total GDP to enter
  5. Is no more than 2 hours drive from home
If you know of any, let me know.

Dead Rose Races Update.

A glimmer of hope? Or is this just kicking a dead horse?


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Ride!

I have no idea if Shia LaBeouf (just typing that makes me feel gay) is a poser or not, but since he enjoys shooting (according to the fawning writer in GQ this month), and doesn't look totally wrong on this Harley, I'm gonna cut him some slack. Not to mention, I could use an all day ride on my Harley right about now.

I think it's time to take the kids to a movie.

Every Rose Has it's Thorn!

Effective June 1, 2008 the business of RedRoseRaces.com, Inc. has been suspended indefinitely and Rich Ruoff has resigned. As a behind-the-scenes investor in this enterprise I will attempt to liquidate whatever assets Rich turns over (trailer, equipment, etc.) and make restitution to everyone owed money in some proportionate and fair way, but this will take time and Rich’s cooperation. Rich has been a friend and great cycling enthusiast and it’s terribly unfortunate that things snowballed out of control to the point that past debts and current spending overwhelmed the business operations and things simply could not continue. Beginning with the Rapho Road Race™ on Saturday, June 7 all of the 2008 events have been canceled. I am in discussion with Pennsylvania Cycling Association and USA Cycling representatives to find potential answers to the crisis this situation represents for bicycle racing in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Sincerely,

David S. Butterworth
CEO
Red Rose Races.com, Inc.

This bums me out. They had what seemed like an incredible thing going on up there. I hope they can work something out, but it doesn't look good. Great Courses and Great Racing close to home.

Oh Well. If it doesn't make sense financially, they shouldn't do it. Gotta start looking for some races now to finish up my season.

UPDATE: For some reason, this issue is beginning to rub me the wrong way. Now, I know there are costs of doing business and we shouldn't do things for free, especially with the amount of time involved in running such a venture. But,... something smells fishy about this whole thing. Maybe not, but I'm disappointed they couldn't keep this thing going. If they were having problems, they should have posted something on the site, or something. There's a lot of racers in the area that counted on having such quality things going on in their backyard. Maybe more people could've "volunteered" their time? Sorta like we did with Bike Jam. I dunno, I'm just thinking out loud.

Tuesday Night Group Ride.

Monday I went hard, so what was in store for Tuesday? Harder of course. A new guy showed up on a spiffy new IF Crown Jewel. Yow those are sweet bikes. We headed out of Lutherville in grey skies that looked like rain any minute. We picked up some guy in full CSC team kit. I thought (mistakenly) he might've been on the team since he had that fast and lean look. Headed north towards Oregon Ridge, then east into who knows where. Climbed some nice hills, and generally just went fast til my legs were screaming. Throw in some wait time for the stragglers at stop signs and you've got a great interval style workout. Eric is getting in some seriously fast shape. He's got some crazy acceleration snap in his legs.

I noticed something about my riding. After a day off, Sunday in this case, I can go really hard for two days. On the second day of two hard days I feel really slow for the first bit but get feeling better and better as the ride progresses. After two hard days like that I'm pretty burnt, so I'll take it easy today with a slightly harder group ride tomorrow.

Bikereg says Rapho is canceled this weekend. What's up with that? Looks like I won't be racing unless I can find another one somewhere.

10 Minutes after we got done with the ride, the Rain came pouring down in buckets. Perfect timing.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Back on the Chain Gang

I took yesterday off to spend some quality time with the girls and it felt great, but today I was itching to get back on the bike. I did 3 hours, 60 miles tonight in perfect weather. That's about all there is to say. Oh, I do have another race this weekend so now it's all about tweaking my workouts working on this or that and not overdoing anything.

I thought this was nice.

Your strength is like a candle: every day a little bit burns away and at the end of the race you have nothing. - Marco Pinotti