Friday, May 28, 2010

I'mma Tell You a Story...

...But right now I'm too busy. So check out my other stories here, and my team's antics here. When I get back from being too busy, I'll have lots of interesting things to say about racing, life in Albany, future life in North Carolina (what?!) job hunting, Shakespeare with kids, and my crazy Russian landlord.



Saturday, April 3, 2010

Good Friday and The Damned Ontario Wind

Last Friday I raced the Good Friday Road Race in Hamilton, Ontario. Last Sunday I wrote a whole race report about it here, but it is so windy up there this time of year that just as I was about to click "publish" the damned thing blew away. True story. So here is a somewhat abbreviated version.

I love April, I love racing in Canada, and I love it when you have the first race of the season where your legs feel like they have some depth in them. I didn't win, and I didn't even place in the money, but I raced the hell out of my bike for the first time this year, and considering I am only 3 weeks into riding bikes for the year, that feels like a lot.

The race was hard, there was a lot of wind, and those short Ontario hills (glacial drumlins to the cognoscenti ) really sting. It's funny but long climbs tend to be ridden at a steadier pace, whereas 300-500 meter rollers, no matter how steep tend to get raced full gas, bottom to top. With 5 of them per lap, I got a pretty solid high-end workout, and it definitely highlighted what I haven't been doing so far this year.

With most of Ontario's best amateurs on hand (DSJ notably absent) and Spidertech p/b Planet Energy's Andrew Randell making a solo appearance, it was mostly clear who to watch. The bizarre x-factor of Canadian racing is always hard to figure, though. And you can be sure that in every race up there you will encounter some completely innocuous looking guy in generic kit on a 10-year-old bike, and that guy will shred. This race did not disappoint.

The crosswinds were a notable factor, except on the parts of the course where the headwinds were a factor, and that took a little remembering on my part. The JetFuel team was aggressive, as were Garneau and others, and everyone sat on Randell, predictably. One break went, stayed out for a lap, started to look threatening and therefore inspired serious bridge attempts. I jumped across to one (ouch! first time this year) and we motivated a large group behind us, so by the end of the 3rd of 5 laps we were 15 chasing 7, with the rest of the field more or less put pf contention. I took a fair share of pulls to bring us back in contact with the front, covered a bunch of counters after we were all together, started to feel the efforts, and found myself lacking, out of position, or both when the attacks that counted went.

In the end a final 6 got away with one tt'ing dude in between and my group racing for 8th. JetFuel won, Randell got 2nd after a monster solo bridge, and me, I burnt my last match closing a gap with 500 meters to go and sat up in the sprint.

This was actually a motivating result for me, because considering that I am 3 weeks into my season, I don't have any reason to expect race-winning legs. So I was pleasantly surprised by how much I was able to do at the pointy end of the race, and the uphill accelerations are not at all bad for early April. Go figure.

So now comes the much-ballyhooed Battenkill, which sadly I will miss the first, Pro-Am round of. Life calls, this time in the form of a conference in Montreal where Charmaine is presenting. And considering that I don't have any teammates in the race and my form is iffy, I am making the surprisingly mature decision to bag the race in favor of grown-up responsibilities, relationship time, and training. The part of the season I am choosing to care about this year starts in late May, so for now I am biding my time, and keeping things in balance.

Next up will be the Tour Of The Battenkill Pro Men's Invitational (UCI 1.2) on 4/18, which I am really looking forward to. If you aren't getting excited about races like that, you shouldn't be racing. I am definitely getting excited, though I have no idea what to expect from myself. Not a bad place to be in; it makes enjoying the moment easier.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm not blogging today...

...nope, no time.

If I was blogging today, though, I would be writing a little about Johnny Cake #2, a little about the upcoming Good Friday Road Race in Hamilton, Ontario, and a little about the naked, fat old guy rumpus I endure every time I go to the gym. Hint: possibly bad manners to stand at the sink, en flagrante, and dry you entire body with the hair dryer. Just sayin'.

More on all of this, for better and worse, soon.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Yeah Yeah, I'm Still Here

Hey there blogland! It's been nearly 3 months since my last post, and I feel like a bit of a heel. A couple of you have been really sweet and asked me why I haven't been posting, which was a nice reminder that people actually read this blog. So here I am, large as life and twice as handsome. Eh?

The simple story is that following 'cross season I was seriously burned out and needed a break from bikes. Then my longtime training partner and teammate, Matt Purdy, retired from racing, I started playing tournament chess again, it got to be 9 degrees outside and I got depressed as hell. So there went January and February.

But now it is spring, the days are getting marvelously longer, and I care about bikes again. And thanks to my students being on break and the weather being ridiculously good, I actually rode 19 hours last week, which is more than I had ridden in the previous 8 weeks combined. So it's a start. I got in my first race of the season last Saturday at the Johnny Cake Lane Spring Series #1, and the team worked incredibly well together to deliver Big Dan Greenfield for the win. We were pretty pleased, because despite the fact that it was just a training race, there were some really good guys there. We managed to have guys in every break, and on the last lap we just took over setting up a train for our designated sprinter, Brad Warren, and leaving room for The Danimal to play the role of spoiler, which he did perfectly. Ca-Caaaw!! (cried the paisley Hawk).

Thanks for reading, happy spring.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day

Nationals? It sucked. I'll get around to a race report, but the significant detail is merely that I had a sinus infection for ~10 days before leaving, and I decided to take antibiotics rather than risk getting really sick since I wasn't getting better. Infection gone, form gone with it. You ever raced on antibiotics? Then you know what I'm talking about. But more on USAC's annual fundraiser/bake sale/Ice Capades later.

Today I am recovering from Christmas, and by recovering I mean playing with the Wii I bought my daughter now that she's back at her mom's house. I haven't lived in a house with a televisi0n for nearly 5 years and I never had a game system as a kid. It isn't so much that I can't leave it alone as the fact that my elbows are really sore and hyper-extended from boxing. 2 weeks off the bike and I'm a wreck.

Life is good, though, the job hunt resumes, interesting doings shape up for 2010, and some buddies of mine are racing a World Cup today. Lots to catch up on.

Until then, Merry Christmas and thanks for reading.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Layover-d: Sterling and Warwick in Hindsight, and Too Many Hours in an Airport

I have been in the Seattle/Tacoma airport since noon (local time) and it is now nearly 3:30. My flight leaves at 5:55. Oops. Funny how I got on a 6:05am flight out of Albany for this...have to plan the itinerary a little more carefully next time.

In any event, having explored the nether regions of the terminal to a fare-thee-well, and finally located a quiet corner with an outlet where my computer actually believes in the Wifi signal, this seems like as good a time as any to relive some recent moderate successes by way of a race report or two.

Sterling, MA Day 1, 11/28:

(Yes, I have arrived. That's me in the click-through photo for the gallery)

I always feel good and ride well on this course. And no I don't think I just jinxed myself. For some combination of reasons having to do with the holiday weekend (more sleep!) and the fact that true 'cross season is now in full effect and road fitness has faded, I always feel pretty fresh and motivated for this race, and my results over the years have been consistently solid. It doesn't hurt that Tom Stevens designs this race and as far as I am concerned he is absolutely the man. His courses are fast and flowy: you pedal a lot, generally on flat ground, but you also turn a lot, and at speed, meaning that good bike handling and smooth riding will save you energy. My kind of course, for sure. Though I was sad to be missing whatever was in store for day 2 of the race this year, I was psyched to be able to spend my one racing day this weekend on the classic Sterling course I have come to know and love, featuring the nearly-rideable run-up and the infamous horse jump.

So the race started well for me and I went through the first turn in 5th wheel or so, right behind Jeremy Powers. Somewhere on the run-up I bobbled and got passed by the horde, then passed some guys back (including a super-sketchy inside pass underneath Peter Bradshaw, sorry Pete!) and settled into 11th, with Adam Myerson, Jerome Townsend and Luke Keough right in front of me. Somewhere along here Luke had a mechanical, dropped back, passed me after he got a bike change, and then once he caught Myerson and Jerome again they all sort of stalled and nobody seemed to want to pull into the headwind on the track...except me, so I did, and I caught them.

I tried tailgunning the group a bit to recover, but inconsistent and somewhat negative riding between Luke and Jerome, vying for the u23 win, meant there were a lot of gaps to close at the back, so I started to pull instead. I was really happy to be in this group because these guys have been riding better than me all year, and we were 7th-11th on the course, which meant for one thing I was having a good ride, and for another UCI points were a more realistic possibility then they have yet this season.

Anyway, hijinx ensued, and Luke and Jerome continued to make work for Adam and I by attacking a lot. Eventually Luke paid for some of his efforts and fell off the pace, and/or quit racing for awhile, but in any event he left our group. Somewhere in here we picked up Mike Broderick who had been alone in 7th for much of the race, but our surges had reeled him in. A solo flying Justin Spinelli was just ahead and I was hoping that with cooperation in our group 6th place was still up or grabs, but it wasn't to be. Feeling optimistic, I attacked hard after the barriers on the last lap but was shut down and passed immediately by all three of my companions. Broderick basically started the sprint by surging well before the last corner, but Jerome gapped us, followed by Myerson, and I got around Broderick, and that was how we finished 7th-10th, respectively. My first UCI points of the season, some reasonable prize money and some seriously restored confidence made for a pleasant drive home, and I was in such a good mood I didn't even mind not racing on Sunday. Especially because I was missing the race to take my daughter, Silas to see the Nutcracker ballet, which was awesome. But that's another story.
Warwick RI Day 2, Verge Series Finale 12/6:

Of course following one of my best rides of the year in Sterling, I got sick. I had a nasty sore throat that turned into a sinus infection and laryngitis, and kept me off the bike Wednesday, which I had planned to be my last hard training day of the season. (And, truth be told, it would have been my first one in many weeks.) I got out on the road for 2 hours Thursday and managed brief spins on Friday and Saturday, but I was still sick and had no idea what to expect from this race. I decided once again to only race one day this weekend, partly due to being sick, but more due to the fact that My Awesome KidTM was playing the part of the Sour Kangaroo in her school's production of Seussical, and there was no way I was going to miss it. I, you see, am not the biggest blame fool in the jungle of Nool.

But sick or not sick, I was in a good mood when I got to Goddard park on Sunday. I love this race venue. It's a nice shady pine forest on a calm little bay, which reaches so far inland that the water is almost totally flat, and it looks almost more like a lake than the ocean. There is always a great community vibe at this race, too, because it's the end of the Verge series, and the end of the season save for nationals. One of my favorite times of the 'cross season is hanging around in the carousel building trying to stay warm after the race, and catching up with, and saying good-bye to, friends from all over. Even for me, this is a hard race to feel at all morose about, except maybe for the fact that it has two sand runs in it. Eeek.

So owing to my newly minted UCI points and the small, late-season field, I was graced with a front row call-up, which is a first for me in a UCI race and was pretty cool. On the start line I noticed that the buckle of one of my shoes was broken and while still fastened, could basically fall off any time. 2 minutes 'til start time, nothing to do about it now. And anyway, that wasn't as bad as the fact that at 5 minutes to start time I had crashed on my way to the start when I overcooked a slippery corner and had broken the rear shifter on my ti bike into two pieces. Really. So, broken shoe and once again no pit bike. Let 'er rip and hope the bike stays in one piece. Honestly, I have no more angst to spend on bike racing this year, so I put it out of my mind and focused on the racing.

Good start, 5th wheel, sand run #1, staying in line, pass Lindine over the barriers, and hang on we're halfway through the lap and I'm still in 5th position! Immediately I began to remind myself not to do anything stupid. The cold air was wrecking my throat but interestingly enough I had good legs, so I went with it. And, finally, there I was having the race I feel like I have had in me all year but haven't been able to get out. Rested enough? Relaxed enough? Who knows, but based on my road season and overall fitness, I really felt like I should belong up front in the local/regional C2's this year, and it's nice to finally be racing at least somewhat near my potential. Really that's all I want is to know that I'm getting everything out of my body that it has to give, whatever that may be...but it's so bloody hard to get there. Anyway.

The course was an absolute blast of slippery tacky corners, one groovy mud puddle, 2 sand runs, one of which approaches the UCI 80-meter limit--or feels like it--and some really cool woodsy sections, capped off by a long pavement stretch and a series of parking lot criterium style turns. I love this course! I managed to stay in the front group for 2 laps, which felt like a lot, and to stay within hailing distance for a 3rd. Knowing my limits and not totally trusting my lungs, I listened to the pain when it told me not to try to stay with Will Dugan as he gave chase, and now I don't know, but I think I made the right call. Eventually Dylan McNicholas popped off the front group some time on the 4th lap or so, and we settled in together in 7th and 8th spots and kept racing, consistently putting time into the guys behind us but not making anything up on Will, who would eventually catch and drop Luke Keough and finish alone in 5th place.

Dylan and I seemed evenly matched, and worked pretty hard, though I felt like I was doing more pulling. I made a couple of attacks in the last lap and a half but he didn't seem to have any trouble shutting me down. I noticed he wasn't attacking, though, and having lost the sprint out of the last corner on this course twice before, I knew that my plan had to be to lead into the last wooded section from 3 corners out. That's what I did, and it worked. I came through the last turn pretty hot and tight on the inside line to avoid getting schooled again like Jerome did to me last year, and then I sprinted like I meant it, which wound up being pretty convincing. 7th place was good for 6 UCI points and 104 bucks, and put me in another good mood for another drive home. All of a sudden I am really looking forward to nationals! Go freakin' figure.

And as a by-the-by: Dan Timmerman won both days at Warwick, thus sealing up his truly dominant win of the overall Verge series title this season. My steadfast teammate and anti-Internet hermit friend, Justin Lindine, proved that his Belgium-bound form is coming well with a strong 3rd place on Saturday and a 4th Sunday.

Nationals in Bend, OR this weekend, with the Master's 30-34 race on Saturday and the Elite race on Sunday. In some respects I wish I had another month to keep racing and building this form I seem to have going right now. But as always, I feel the year going to sleep and I am looking forward to family time, snow activities, reading lots, and staying up too late, and generally not having to pack the car and stress about being places on time on weekend mornings.

Stay tuned for updates, and thanks for reading.


Monday, December 7, 2009


Wow, no blogging for ages! I have missed the blogosphere, but for a bunch of reasons have been lacking in time and wherewithal to write.

November was an interesting month from all angles. I finally started to come around form-wise and have had some good rides, most recently at Sterling, MA and Warwick, RI where I finally picked up my first UCI points of the year, just in time for nationals!

In other news I also got laid off and don't have any classes for the spring semester so it looks like temping is in my future.

I'm looking forward to having more time to write in the coming weeks, and I'll have some recent race reports up here in the coming days. Thursday I fly to Bend, OR for Cyclocross national championships and that should produce some good stories. More to come...