Monday, December 31, 2007

Hard work feels good

Thanks to my parents (two of the hardest working people you'll ever meet), I've always appreciated an honest day's work and having something to show for your efforts at the end of the day. It's always satisfying to be able to point to or hold something and say "I did that". I certainly got my share of satisfaction this weekend as I tried to put in a surge to get the basement finished and into move-in condition. To the casual observer, the only glaring things to be finished were the carpet tiles and some stick down vinyl tiles outside the bathroom, but there were loads of other odds and ends that added up to tons of work. I probably spent 5 or 6 hours Saturday and another 9 or so yesterday trying to get things finished and I came oh so close. At around 11:20 last night as I realized that I had been on my knees for about 4 hours (insert juvenile joke here) doing carpeting and floor tiles and I also realized I was maybe 3 carpet tiles short of having enough, I packed it in with maybe an hour's worth of work left (once I get more carpet).

On the more athletic side, I think I ran 3 days last week including 45 minutes Friday and 30 hilly minutes on Saturday. It felt good and my stride seems to be fairly smooth right now so I hope I can keep it going for the next couple months with some biking added in. Speaking of the 2 wheeled things... I'm unloading what was my first racing bike that I've accepted is way too small for me (custom bikes tend to spoil you like that). Amazingly I've gotten 5 hits off craigslist since Saturday so there are plenty of us vertically gifted types out there. I've also started bringing together pieces to do some significant fit changes to my newer road bike since it was thrown together last year with whatever I had and never really thought through. I've certainly got plenty of maintenance to do during the dark and cold days in the next couple months.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Reflection (and lots of food)

First I must start out by declaring that I am The Iron Chef... Yesterday I pulled off another one of my stellar turkey dinners without any major hitches. I tend to make the dinner for my wife's family on Xmas day and yesterday was larger than normal with a total of 14 planned diners (2 last minute no-shows). Thank goodness for my father-in-law who manages the carving and serving of the bird once I have cooked it, but otherwise it's all me. Any I have a really tiny kitchen so this is no small feat. A small part of me thinks I could enjoy cooking if I had the time to do it. It'd also give me more motivation to train since I'd be fattening myself up...

Ok, the reflection part... Hey, everyone's doing it... I wanna be one of the cool kids. It's the end of the season so it's time to look back and think ahead. I've got plenty to look back on and some permanent reminders of the season that was...

This was definitely a season of painful and expensive lessons. I trashed one helmet, one frame, 4 wheels, 2 or 3 sets of bars, a few components, and my body. The crashology went like this:

1/10 - Highly dramatic faceplant while mountain biking

4/26 - Sentra vs. Commuter

4/28 - Sturbridge. I should be far more grateful than I am that I didn't break anything and that my ruptured groin tendon/muscle thing didn't keep me down for longer

6/17 - The Father's Day Wells crash. At least I wasn't the guy who lost his teeth. I walked away from my bike for about 10 days after this

7/8 - The broken hand the day before family vacation ultimately resulting in 3 titanium screws and 9 weeks without riding. At least I got in 90 minutes of riding between breaking it and packing it in for the day

So what is there that's positive about this trainwreck of a season? Well, for starters, I did 14 cross races without a noteable incident. Sure there were a few of the silly fallover types of things that are just part of the game, but nothing worth noting. Secondly, the few races I did complete taught me so much more than I knew... hell, even a couple of the races I crashed out of taught me a lot. I can now recognize much better where to be, when to go, when to sit back, etc. The game of road racing makes a little more sense now so it's just a shame that I'm going to be pack shy for a bit until I make it through a few races in one piece. I also know a lot more about what I am able to do. I hung in a couple of road races much better than expected and I still think I could have won Sturbridge. I podiumed in a MTB race which I still think I suck at. I know that in a cross race everyone in front of me better watch out in the final couple of laps because I'm coming to get ya (lord know what would happen if I knew how to start and there was nobody to catch). So trying to ignore the scars and look forward, I think these are my goals:

- Not crash. Sure this is partially joking, but I think what I mean is to be smarter about where I am and what I'm doing so that I minimize my chances of getting taken out. If I was at fault in my road crashes this year, it was because I put myself in a less than optimal position. Any offroad crashes were pure operator error.

- Suck less off-road. This will be a matter of practice and building confidence for me. I find that a lot of off-road crashes can be caused by being too careful (braking when you don't need too, etc).

- Win a race. Road, MTB, Cross... doesn't matter.

- Finish Great Glen... and despite CTodd's urging, no, it won't be solo. Having retired from Reach the Beach, this will be my bout with epic stupidity for this year.

- Bike to work at least once a week for the entire duration of daylight savings. Target will be 2-3 times, but I'd like to make once a requirement.

So that's my line in the sand subject to being crossed or erased by the tides. Let's hope blogger doesn't eat the post so I can go back next year and see how I did.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Here's hoping the jolly man is good to you and your families are happy and well. Spend these next days forgetting about all the day to day nonsense and enjoying the company of good friends and family... that's the stuff that matters. I'm as guilty as the next of forgetting that sometimes so my wish is that I can really take in the raw joy and excitement that kids always know how to add to the day.

Oh, and Santa just had a close call with the oldest in our house... phew...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

That's all folks...

Well the racing season has ended so of course it's time for reflection and goal setting. I have a lot in my head about this season so I'll probably keep this short and do the long rambling post later. If I'm counting right, I lined up for 4 road races (2 crashes/DNF's), 2 MTB races (1 broken hand/DNF), and 14 cross races (2 races @ -1 lap). That's probably about half of what I hoped for, but 9 weeks of no riding will do that to you. I definitely have a lot I've learned this season about racing and I know I don't know 1/100th of what there is to know. One benefit of racing less than planned is that I'm not really tired or burned out. I'll take some time off from riding, but really I'm going to keep going with other stuff while I set goals for next year. I'm likely to open with the Tufts Crit again, but it's too early to think about specific events. I've tossed around the idea of a team for 24 Hours of GG, but we'll see (anyone interested?). For now it's time to do some bike tear-downs, wheel truing, and probably e-baying (buying and selling).

I'd be a jerk if I didn't publicly admit that I owe my wife and kids huge for letting me escape for the hours of racing and training and for all the cheers from the boys. Even if I'm slow and fat, I can always go faster when they're screaming their heads off at me. Of course after watching the 10-12 year olds at Nationals I started thinking that the oldest is only 2 years off from being able to compete. How cool will it be to be able to return the cheers...

Saturday, December 15, 2007


The overnight temps in the teens with 10-20 mile an hour winds and snow meant that all of the soupy goodness from yesterday turned into frozen ruts for today. Just picture riding the most root-laden trails you can think of, but turn all the roots parallel to the direction you are going and space them 32mm apart... oh, and don't really make them straight... they have to wander around a bit and cross each other now and then. It was REALLY cold at the start and I was heavily bundled. I missed a pedal at the start, but found it quickly and was flying up the hill with the horses. We hit the dip and bang... I took a bad line, hit a rut, and down I went. One guy clipped my head with something and another guy hit my bike. It turned out later that it also mangled a spoke on my front wheel so that was all out of whack (At one point I thought about grabbing a neutral wheel, but knew I wouldn't be out there long enough for it to matter). After that incident, I basically checked out. With all the ruts and ice, you really had to be aggressive, carry some momentum, and bounce over everything and I just wasn't doing it. I think a pre-ride today would have done me a lot of good, but it was too frickin cold to get there for 8 to get on course. I sort of survived two laps before the leaders came by me and that was the day. My bruised elbow, cut knuckle, warped front wheel, and frozen bike hung around to see the finish and then I hurried off to the car to get warm. I would have gladly taken yesterdays mud over this mess... mud is tiring, but way more predictable. This pictures sums up the conditions fairly well:

Friday, December 14, 2007

Natz day 2

Big day for the east coasters in the mud today out here in KC. The youngins tore it up this morning on some frozen rutted stuff and then the sun took hold and the course turned into 1.9 miles of dirt soup. The Goguens represented with Peter taking 5th place, Tommy taking 8th (after the race he was telling his brothers he crashed 7 times), and Manny taking 20th in the oldest juniors. Luke Keough rode away with the 17-18 y.o. race, but the more impressive performance was Gavin Mannion running about half a lap carrying a busted bike and then fighting back to 6th place. Local hero Steve Tillson destroyed the 45+field, but Kevin Hines rolled home with an easy second place. We have no idea what to expect from the course tomorrow with a prediction for 4+ inches of snow tonight and temps in the mid 20's tomorrow with 10-20 mph winds. Epic may not even begin to describe it.

Here's a few shots of the youngsters and some soupy goodness:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Now that's a cross race

Greetings all from KC. It's crazy being out here to race and we're having a blast so far (despite not crashing until about 1:30 last night due to travel delays and a need to eat). Today's B races were a total mudfest. There were way over 100 people registered for the 30-39 and only like 72 started. Of that there were a few who DNF'd. CCC took the hole shot and I got a pretty good start, hitting the grass in maybe 20th. I bobbled the first couple corners and was feeling things out since I never got to pre-ride. Very very quickly, the race just turned into a slog fest. I just tried to keep it upright in all the corners and ride strong through the mud. I gave it just about all I had and was hurting at the end. Rolled home 41st which is a nice upgrade from my 123rd or whatever it was last year in Providence. Here's a few pics of the muddy carnage:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My powers are restored

Now that it's too late to back out, I can let the cat out of the bag for all those traveling to KS... the weather is my fault and as soon as I signed up, you should have backed out in expectation. You see, I have a long history of truly epic weather at events I plan long in advance. The 1998 Detroit Marathon which I trained over 6 months for (and PR'd) was run in torrential rain and 30-45 mph winds. The 2003(might have been 04) Mt Washington Hillclimb was run in weather so bad most wondered why they didn't cancel. I trained for a year for that. I went to so many running and bike races in downpours that I finally bought my own tent to bring to events. Of the 5 Reach the Beach relays I have done, 2 were in hurricanes and 2 more had only short stints of rain, of course while I was on the course. KC could now top them all. So my apologies to crossers everywhere. I still have the ability to bring epic weather events with me to athletic contests. Next time ask me first if I'm planning to register before you do.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Am I even going to get there?

I'll be honest, I'm starting to worry a bit about the weather in KC:

I guess I don't even know what to expect. Later this week looks to be sunny to partly sunny with temps similar to here. So I guess that means we should be either be expecting mud or to be having a pool party in the Tilly Zone. I guess for starters I'll hope my flight gets there and that my bike gets there. You're going to have 20+ people severly bumming if weather holds up the bike transport trailer. For now, I have too much to do before I leave to let it get to me. I'll start panicking on Wednesday...

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Just keep the round side down

And no I don't mean my sort of round head...

Today was the last tuneup before the big dance and my only goal was to not injure myself or my bike. Unfortunately I was riding sans-tubulars since they were off being reglued and I definitely could have used them. After a 5:45 pickup by GD, we made the long trek to Warwick to discover that they had a nice dusting of crunchy snow everywhere. I had no idea what to expect for the course except I knew there'd be some beach and some woods at the venue. The heated indoor bathrooms were a nice treat when we got there (although the high heat added to an unpleasant smell by the time we left) and then it was off to explore. Temps were cold but seemed very tolerable esp compared to Sunday. The course was, well, interesting. Uphill pavement for a long stretch, onto the grass, through a fun little corkscrew thingy in a bowl on the grass, into the woods, onto the beach, some dirt path, a tricky down/up(run)/down through a mulched hillside, long pavement, more woods, a grass off-camber that got real greasy later, back on the pavement, wipe hands on pants, repeat. Note that there were NO barriers. They put them up right before the grassy off-camber, and promptly had to take them down when they realized that whole patch where they were was frozen solid and icy. No idea if they went back up later when it warmed up, but they were gone for the 9, 10, and 11 start times.

The course changed continually during warmups as the snow and ice got ridden on and the sun came out. Very few sections were treacherous, but lots would smack you off your bike if you weren't paying attention. My clinchers sucked on the stuff so I knew I'd have to pay close attention and probably had to be more cautious in the turns. One thing that really sucked was that as the thaw started, my shoes got real wet and it was cold enough that by the end of the race, my feet were totally numb. I was pegged for the 5th row, but with the wide road, it was more like second as people fanned out. Whistle blew and I was off like... well... . I've had 2 races this year where mentally and physically I was somewhere else at the start: Canton and today. At Canton, I didn't feel like I started racing until lap 2 and then I was flying. Today, I felt like I took the first 1/2 lap off which hurt me because we only did 4 (GD only rode for like 33 minutes in his schooling of the B masters). Not sure what it is, but I know part of it today was that I'm still a little gun-shy in a pack from the year I've had and I don't trust crossers in a pack jockeying for the hole shot. Knowing that I almost NEVER get passed in a race, I decided to just sit and take my chances.

With my 1/2 lap parade, about 1/3 of the way through lap 2 I hear "on your left" and some dude in blue flies past. 2 seconds later "Sorry Rich, on your left" and there goes Gary. For a second I was like "He rocks" then I was like "Wait you a-hole, get on his wheel". I tried desperately and held a little contact and then Gary got taken out just before the mulch pit. We made the runup together and when he got to the top, his rear wheel was out of whack so he got stalled. Over by where the barriers should have been he catches up again and I offered him a pull when we hit the pavement... my offer must have sounded like that siren reverb you get when an ambulance speeds by because he passed me that fast... ok, I guess Gary feels good. Rest of the race was fairly non-descript... passed people as usual, but not tons. Rode ok on the turns and hammered the straights. Didn't do anything stupid and kept it upright (goal achieved). I was around the grass off camber when I heard Fries yelling "And here's Gary David and he's the A-student today" which pumped me up to dust a few guys on the finish stretch. I have NO CLUE where I finished... might have been top 20, but barely. Nothing special about my finish except for having fun, getting dirty, and coming home safe.

I'm going to try and blog daily from KS... my kids want to see pictures anyways so I'll see what I can do. Hope to see many of you there.

Results are posted (good to see them get them on the web already despite not being able to get the paper copies up for over an hour after the race) and I came in 15th. With all due respect to the other 4's that busted ass today, I kinda took today off so I'm taking this as a good sign for The Big Show...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

CTodd is so cool, I want to be JUST like him

I was giving the bike a nice drivetrain cleaning and a good once over tonight since it was about my last chance before it heads to KS and I decided it would be a good idea to check how the glue is holding up on the bubulars. The good news is, I probably would have been a CTodd copycat this weekend when I peeled both tires off if I hadn't checked. The bad news is I've got spots all over both wheels where the glue is cracking and letting go at the edges. My guess is the combo of the super cold and the wet muck from Lowell worked in and weakened up the weaker spots. Now I have to see if I can get them in the shop tomorrow at opening and get them back in time to put them in the Goguen's rig for the trip. I'll definitely be slumming on the clinchers Saturday. I really didn't need this this week...

I was asking myself if these things are worth the aggravation. From having finished 3 or 4 races on them now, I have to say yes...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The frozen tundra of Wrentham

The day has finally come and gone and it was as kick ass as expected... that's right kids, the very popular, exciting, beer fueled, painful, log hopping experience that is the MRC Wrentham Cross Race. Course setup was due to start around 5 and I planned to leave the house around 4:30, but my brain vetoed itself and I didn't drag my butt out of bed until like 4:35. It worked out because I got there around 5:35 and things were just really kicking off. I'll tell ya crossers (or bike racers of all types), if you've never set up a cross course, you should try it. If you get enough people, it only takes like an hour to 90 minutes, and you get to see the intent of the designer as you go through it. It's little things like "make them make a decision if they're going to ride the berm or try the narrow lane inside", but it does give you an appreciation for their sick little minds. So we had really pretty much finished up by just after 7 and then it was time to start thinking about racing.

I had warmed up nice while working and wearing 5 or 6 layers, but stripping down to put on the race clothes was quite the shocker. I managed to get in maybe 5 laps for warmup and felt ok, but nothing spectacular and it was freaking cold. Race time, strip off the jacket and extra pants... damn! It's REALLY cold. Ah well... reason to race harder. Fortunately I didn't suck too much in the eyes of Colin so I was lined up in the third row. Whistle goes... crap... where's my pedal? I actually seem to be having some pedal issues lately so I need to check out the cleats and pedals. Found the pedal and was in my usual ok-but-not-great position. Through all the turns, nothing exciting. We get to the barriers and chaos breaks out. One guy clips his front wheel and drops his bike. Another guy trying to avoid it clips someone and swings his bike sideways. Snaked my way through, but then both those guys clogged things a little more when they remounted without checking their chains first and had to hop right back off. Into the woods and tried to hammer on the road in there. I came through the Landry's pit and one of the guys told me "11 in front of you"... cool... I thought I was further back. Kept hammering just trying to hold position and finally found a good line/dismount plan on the down and up into the barriers. Cool part of lap one was having a front (ok rear) row view of Andy P styling over The Log. After that, the race turned into the usual chase and drop exercise. By 3 to go I had a group of 3 with Steen leading in distant view and they became my new goal. FINALLY on the final lap I made contact after going through the gate and just as I did one of them jumped. I hung on as much as I could and planned to get them in the down and up into the barriers. I did get right in the middle of the group running up the hill, but we had also just lapped someone and he got in the mix. The traffic coupled with a poor remount meant I was still chasing and then one guy who had sucked Steen's wheel for 2 full laps jumped going up the last hill and that blew apart the group. I had burned so much chasing them back that I never passed any of them and came home 8th. Brad and Cookie were flying up front and I think were 3 and 4. Steen was 6th. Hooray for the MRC 4's again.

It was a hard fought 8th today and I really felt like I raced all I could so I'll take it even though I was one out of the points again. Much of blog land was out today and I got to chat with G and Ctodd (by the way, never have that man or his mechanic glue your bubulars), and I finally got to meet the one and only man who breaks Solo styling in his oh so pro contractor glasses and duck taped rain jacket :) Congrats to him on his 5k PR yesterday and then coming back today and tearing it up.

Now if I only had put down this many words in my school paper for the past 20 minutes I'd be better off...

Monday, November 26, 2007

MRC Cross Race - Sunday

Get off your ass and register for the MRC cross race this Sunday in Wrentham, MA. Same location as last year and same as the very popular training race series from back in September. You get two unique opportunities at this race: 1) you get to see if you've got the stones to ride The Log (I don't), 2) you get to blame Colin if your start position sucks. The latter is only true if you pre-reg otherwise it's an automatic seat on the back of the short bus. Do it... you know you want to...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Not quite A-list

The past few weeks I've started to feel a little like I've become the Joe Piscopo of cross racing... somewhat well known and accomplished, but not what anyone would consider top shelf. The good news is that I'm getting better results and winning the races within the race, but I've got a bit more work to do.

The site of today's almost spectacular race was the Verge race at Sterling. The forecast called for ridiculous cold at 7 when I planned to get there and ma nature did not disappoint. I had about 5 layers on for warmups and I think I needed every one of them. A quick spin around showed that the course was a good bit different than last year. The staircase on the up-n-down was gone since they had to ditch it last year to be UCI legal anyways. They also broken up the long straights along the driveway near the pits with some additional turns and up-n-down fun. Lastly the approach to the run up was very different and made it almost rideable for those better than me (note: I saw Luke Keough go up it in the juniors race and almost fell over). I registered sorta late so I lined up 5th row or something like that. Fortunately with the cinder track at the start there was lots of room to move up and I had it in my head all week that I had to bust the start to make up a few spots. Well I could have done it better, but I did get an OK start and did pass some guys. Into the dip before the runup some guy(s) ate it and there was a good bit of chaos. Fortunately I only got hung up a little and was able to get back in it. After that, the story is really pretty typical for me. I got passed by almost nobody, blew past some of the quick starters, and spent the whole race chasing Cookie (passed him with a lap to go). I rode semi-clean, but did have a couple of bobbles, one of which cost me. On the big up-n-down on the final lap I could tell I had a guy right with me and that I was somewhere in the top 20. I had ridden the hill all but one lap where there was some traffic and I had it set up well again until a guy I was lapping dismounted right in front of me and I was forced off. The guy behind me was able to go wide, power over the top, and get a gap. Try as I might, I just couldn't get him back. Turns out that was the race for 10th... dammit.

I really can't be all that disappointed with 11th in a bigger race, especially one where I finished an unimpressive 31st last year, but I still want to reach that next level. At this point in the season, it's just tuneup for my quest to not get lapped at Nats. Seeing that I didn't ride for July, August, and the beginning of September, I should take what I can get and be happy with it.

Oh, and the MRC crew continued to rock the cat 4 race... I think today it was 3rd, 5th, 11th, 13th, and 21st with the comeback kid Manny Goguen coming in 21st after riding the first few laps in the lead pack. Great to see him back out there!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

So much for that plan

So Tuesday's plan went to hell in a handbasket thanks to New England's finest weather casters. I need a job where I can be wrong on a regular basis and just explain why I was wrong after the fact. With the unexpected snow (whatever happened to the 40% chance of showers in the evening) and the mercury hovering in the mid-thirties, I decided to double-lock the giANT bike in the cage at work, grab a Zipcar and join the mess that I had so hoped to avoid. By the way, if you've never checked out Zipcar I highly recommend it (assuming you live or work in an area where cars are available). I signed up back this summer when we had to get some car repairs and I split time between biking and borrowed wheels. I kept the membership for occasions like yesterday when I had biked and needed a car. Anywho, enough unpaid advertisements...

So the ride home was tolerable since I avoided the 45 mile backup on the Pike, but still not much fun. This also meant I got to drive it back in this morning and ride home tonight instead. Perfect, the weather nerds are calling for mid to high 40's and cloudy. Ok, I can do that. I got up at the ass crack o dawn so I could roll out early and have a little bit of daylight to play with. I hoped to make it to the townie part of the ride (past Waltham and into Weston) before all traces of daylight were gone. Well I almost made it, but as I was crossing into Waltham the water came. Now it wasn't rain, but it certainly went from comfortably cool to damp and gross. About 2 miles later I had to make a decision... keep my glasses on and get blinded completely by the combination of headlights and water on them, or take them off and ride nearsighted the rest of the way. Well there was plenty more traffic to come so I chose some vision over none most of the time. Ok, now we're really having fun... it's around 40 degrees, I'm not wearing any sort of vision correcting device which is what gives me enough warning to avoid potholes, it's really dark, it's misting, and low areas have become foggy. I really wish I could have gotten pictures of some of the looks I must have gotten. To all those who saw me, yes, I am crazy, thanks for asking. Anywho... I eventually made it back here to the land of far far away. By the time I did it was 39 degrees, I was good and soggy, and I had been on very limited vision for about half the ride. Thanks to whatever force it was that got me here in one piece...

Good news is I got 3.5 hours of saddle time in 2 days. I raced Sunday and I'm racing Saturday. I guess this week is a final training push before nationals... maybe I can squeak a couple more places out of it yet.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Aw dammit...

I knew I spoke too soon... results are up and the hand written ones race day were wrong... 8th instead of 7th. Oh well... 2 top 10's this year is a start... sort of...

Beating the traffic

Working in the big city for almost 12 years has taught me that despite the media hype about Wednesday before Thanksgiving travel, the Tuesday before Turkey day is the worst day of the year to drive west out of the city. My theory is that it's because all the colleges close down today for the break, but it could just be that everyone thinks they're being clever and beating all that Wednesday traffic. To try and combat what I believe to be a truism about today, I biked in today. It's been forever since I have so it felt a little weird, but it was kinda nice. I did ride the cross bike with the Vittoria EVO cross tires pumped to 80 so it was a pretty slow trip. I can also say it was freaking chilly when I left the house. Roadside thermometer out in the burbs said 24. I was well bundled so I warmed up pretty well, but I could always tell the chill was there. Now I'm just waiting for G's story about today...

"Hell yah, it was finally chilly for a change. I debated whether I should put on the arm warmers, but I just said eff it and figured I'd prolly be warm enough if I zipped up the jersey for a change. Stuck with the shorts too and just threw some embrocation on my junk for effect and to keep Solo happy so he can talk about my junk..."

Anywho... enough blog humor for the morning. Back to work. If this morning's snow and this afternoon's rain materialize it could be a hairy ride home...

Monday, November 19, 2007

The bike needed a bath

Just a few pics post race of the rig covered in slop

I'll call this one "Mud and Cowbells" :)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I GOT POINTS!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, so it was A point, but still... I finished high enough up in a bike race that it gets recognized by people other than me. Ok... I'll take it down a notch now...

BRC cross race at Lowell was this morning. I went to this race last year and it was the first day out for the SS which subsequently ate itself and I walked off the course half way through the race. I have trained so little on my bike since NoHo that it's almost laughable, but I have been running some so I haven't been totally idle. I think I rode once last week so I really was going today for the mental release and had no expectations. Got there super early and got ready in the nice chilly weather. I did in fact finally have my tubular act together and I'll say in advance that they were awesome now that I've actually finished a race on them :) Warmups revealed that some sections of the course were nearly identical to last year and the upper half was quite a bit different due to construction on the park. Everything was very crunchy and frozen due to the temps, but you could tell it was going to thaw out quite a bit as we got going... did it ever. The dirt track on the lower half ended up with about 150 yards of mud/dirt soup that was doing a good job of getting all over everything and everyone throughout the race. The start line location was a bit of a mystery up until the last second so we all sort of rushed over there at once and I found myself front and center... woo hoo! We got rolling and I got an ok start, but I went the first 100m clipped into only one pedal and then when I got the other I skidded my front tire along the side of some guy's rear tire for a second. Didn't panic so no big deal. First turn was an up and down 180 and somehow the guy in like 10th ate it and it stacked up. I got through quick and then the barriers were right after it which I got through ok. The interesting part of the course for me came on the ride/run up. There was a sharp right into it so you couldn't get much momentum and it was long, but most guys were riding it (slowly). I chose to run every lap of the race and I honestly can't say I lost any spots on it. In fact I passed a bunch of people. Throughout the race it seemed like I just kept catching guys and then dropping them very quickly. I was riding pretty clean, but was being too much of a pansy on some spots and having to catch back up to other guys. Late in the race I started to catch Cookie who finishing top 10 at NoHo and is a good benchmark for me. Next to last lap I caught him at the barriers and then somehow got ahead of him on the run up while chasing an MIT guy. Well, I spent the rest of the race chasing said MIT guy and never did get him. I knew I was pretty high up since I had a decent start and also because I was reeling in Steve who I heard over the PA was 4th at one point. I busted it across the line, went and wiped some mud off, and then walked over to find the results. Turned out the MRC crew bagged 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th with yours truly in the coveted 1 point spot. Watch out mofos... 30 more races like this and I'll be taking a whooping from Zank and CCC ;) Pictures of the mud covered bike later.

Ok, I think I was supposed to have been doing something else all this time... oh yah, homework... dammit.

Sterling next week... here's hoping for another good day.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I'm not really one for excuses. Sure, I'll joke about the wheel of excuses when something doesn't go right, but I typically know the real reason behind things. I'm stuck in a complete mountain of excuses right now and it's coming close to my head exploding. Anywho... I try to avoid talking about work here so I'll stop.

Got to ride the gerbil wheel last night. Maybe MTB in the dark tomorrow. Lowell Sunday. I need the exercise more so I can forget everything for a while than anything...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In for Lowell

OK, the wheel of schedule juggling landed on the 4's race at Lowell on Sunday. I figured I'd go with closest location and the most people I know. Plus I have a score to settle because the SS came apart on me at this race last year. Sadly I'll have to boogie immediately after finishing, but at least I get to be there.

Just lips and a nose...

Some friends of mine took scuba classes in the pool on campus while we were in college. One of the tests they had to do was tread water with no hands for something like 5 minutes. By the end of it, there'd always be a lot of people with their heads tilted all the way back and you could just see their nose and lips above the surface. That's always the image I get when I'm severely overloaded... just another half inch of water (or crap as the case may be) and I'm gonna need a big straw...

I'm racing this weekend for mental relief only. I have no idea where yet. I registered for Sterling already so I don't have to start DFL, although that track at the start lets you move up if you want to burn several matches at the start. I may just show up and reg wherever I go this weekend.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Another week winds down

Ever notice how when you are outrageously busy you somehow get from the weekend to the next Friday in disturbingly blurred fashion? That's the way it's been for over a month now... Somehow it's Friday morning again, I'm behind on a lot of stuff, and another week is gone. Oh well... my group at work regularly says that "busy is good" which is typically true, but there are limits...

This is a weekend off from racing. I really did want to do at least one day in Plymouth, but school work for both me and SuperMom have to take priority this week. I got management approval for Lowell and Sterling last night so those will be fun. MRC race is the week after Sterling I think and then probably one more before the big one. Travel plans are coming together so now it's just a matter of not getting hurt or fat. My training schedule right now isn't really going to get me much better, but I definitely shouldn't get worse. Now if all the other tall mofos out there would just stay the hell off ebay maybe I could pick up a crankset with 180mm arms for my road bike so I can just leave that set up on the trainer. After making the switch to longer arms on the cross bike it's definitely the way to go for me so I need to get one for the road bike. The switch down to shorter arms just feels weird now.

Ok, back to work. Another crazy day on tap...

Oh, and how could I forget... it seems that some better quality valve extensions and some Tufo tire sealant may have remedied my bleeding tubular problems. My guess from having gone through this is that the valve cores were never in tight enough. Both of them basically spun right out with essentially no resistance to get them started. Here's hoping...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Ryan Shay

I've had this in my head for a couple days, but haven't had time to get it down. For those who missed it, and shame on the media for making this no more than a passing mention, a promising young US marathoner, Ryan Shay, passed away during Saturday's Olympic marathon trials. This is an incredibly sad story for a lot of reasons and I think should serve as a good reminder to all of us that we're not invincible.

I was that athlete that for a long time that assumed I was the picture of health and fitness. I did something athletic 6 or 7 times a week, I raced regularly, my resting heart rate was below 40, I never got sick... there was no need to go to the doctor... nothing to see here. When I turned 30, I promised myself I'd go just because it had been so long and it was the right thing to do. Once I finally got around to going about 6 months later, my blood pressure was something like 180 over 115. There's a very good chance that I was well on my way to being that distance runner that just dropped one day without warning. My wife hates when I say that, but there's some family history to back up the fact that it definitely could have happened. Fortunately now I know and things are well under control. Now I'm in no way trying to say that Ryan Shay was irresponsible with his health because all reports are that it was quite the opposite. He knew about a heart condition, but was cleared to run because they thought they understood the reasons for his enlarged heart. Who knows if they missed something. Now it's probably not worth arguing about whether they did. The point is though that being able to push your body as an athlete does not mean that your body wants you to. The best you can do is not just assume everything is fine and make sure you know. Be proactive about your health and your body because knowing what's going on is never a bad thing.

Monday, November 05, 2007

2 Blogs

Just a quick note for anyone interested that missed the memo... I've started up another blog to track progress on some home improvement projects being done by dear ole Dad. Click here to check it out.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

These tubulars are cursed...

I made a realization today... if I do no other good, I at least serve as a way for the rest of the bike racing community to feel better about themselves. With all my crashes, mishaps, and general suckitude this season, I just hope that after that bad race you can say "Man, at least I'm not Rich."

Today could have been the big one I've been trying to pull off. The scene was Northampton for the big Verge race. I'm a big fan of this course since it gives you a little of everything. Fortunately I stayed over in Western Mass last night so the drive was less than half of what it could have been. I was there super early anyways so I had plenty of time to prep. I was also giving the tubulars another try after having the front re-glued and the rear checked out. I hadn't had a chance to test them yet so I wanted to do lots of laps. I had pumped them up yesterday and then they stayed in the car overnight. When I took them out they were both basically flat. I was worried, but they held new air so I wrote it off to the cold. What I noticed though was that throughout warmups, the rear kept losing a little air. The front had a little too, but not as much and they seemed to be getting better as I rode more. One last check and a top-off of the rear 15 minutes before race start and I headed up there.

Had a fairly early signup so I think I was in the 4th row. The race starts and for a change I got it right (mostly). Didn't find my pedal instantly, but quick enough and I was off. I will note I practiced this on Friday night and I think it really did help. Basically nobody went by me before turn 1 and I was actually riding well. I was maybe 15th and I didn't really know what to do with myself :) I felt GOOD and I blew threw a few guys running the sandpit and then busted up the runup to stay in great shape. I was right around a guy from the team who eventually finished 12th and is a good gauge for me so I was just a happy guy. Then it happened. I noticed all of a sudden that the rear wheel felt a little squishy. Then I came off the fast ugly downhill and knew something was wrong. The rear was all over the place, but wasn't quite flat. I had to make a choice... the pits were right there so I could take a wheel and then try to chase back or I could see if the tire held. Into the pits it was. Fortunately Bill D was there and helped me with the change which felt like it took forever, but was probably actually quite admirable. Out of the pits and I wasn't DFL so I had to get to business. What I noticed shortly though was that I could hear some brake rub so something wasn't right. It didn't feel like it was too bad though I so decided not to stop again and check it and just put my head down. I did ride fairly well for the rest of the race, but I was just way in the hole. Then on the next to last lap I sort of slid out on an easy turn and went down on one knee. I had just made contact with a huge group that I was going to work through, and then I lost contact so I basically packed it in. Rolled home in some meaningless mid-pack position although I did manage to gap a guy over the barriers and ride away for that one meaningless spot. By the way, after the race I checked the rear wheel and if I gave it a light spin, it wouldn't even go around twice. The left brake pad was basically ON the rim so I had ridden all but half a lap of the race with my rear brakes half on. I better get payback for that unnecessary workout at a future race.

2 major points of excitement from the B-Masters was G getting the hole shot and then Coley taking second in a 2 up sprint. I think Gary was top 10 and Bill D was up there too.

So the tires... I dunno. Next step is that some proper valve extenders and some Tufo sealant are on order. I was talking to Tommy Mannion after the race and he was saying he also had some problems like this and it turned out to be an issue with the valve stems/cores not being tight. I'm going to tinker a little and try to get this figured out. This keeps going and maybe I'll be donating to the "Bad Brad wants tubies" fund. Maybe I can call it a positive that I started and finished on the front which peeled off last week. Kudos to Landry's for doing it right which I obviously couldn't do.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Do foot rides count as a workout?

So I did run today, but I'm wondering if I get bonus points for giving the boys foot rides around the house... you know, the little tyke sits on top of your foot, wraps their arms around your leg, and off you go. I should mention that the little tykes weigh 65 and 49 pounds. I had them switch legs part way around the house for balance. Maybe I'll use that as my gauge of how out of shape I am... if I can make it a couple laps with them latched on then I don't totally suck yet...


I've said it before... life's all about choices... grad school vs. relaxing... bike racing vs. homework vs. sleep, commuting vs. a shoe box with a small yard, do-it-yourself house projects vs. needing them to actually get done... choices. Too many of them sometimes. I'm not always sure I'm making the right ones lately. I'm still in a hole and still digging. I hope I hit the bottom soon...

This rambling bit of self-pity has been brought to you by Senseo coffee, Bentley College, and the letter F...

Monday, October 29, 2007


I guess cross is a sport where you can put a positive spin on 29th place. Canton results are up and that's where I finished. Now this is pretty much deserving of a big "So what", but if you look at it a different way:

- There were 98 finishers (well over 100 started)
- By my estimate, I had to have been in 50th - 60th place going into the field on lap 1
- I rode what I'd consider to be my worst first lap ever
- I'm still ~3 minutes behind the winners on what I'd consider to be a far more technical course than Gloucester

So I can keep my chin up a little bit I guess. Odds are I'm not going to get much better this season unless I pull a special race out of my butt one of these weekends. Ah well... it's still fun.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I'm sure I'll pay for it, but I decided to take a mental break from home work to get some race reports up...

This weekend was all about contrast... in courses, weather, results, race setup... everything. Saturday was the race down in Brockton which had been described to me as the "most ghetto race ever". As I told the guys after the race... I'm not sure I'd go with ghetto, but I think low-budget is definitely a fair description. The race site was relatively easy to find, but there wasn't a hell of a lot to find. No mob of racers there 2 hours early, no tell-tale course tape... just a reg tent and a finish line tent and I wonder if those would have been there if it wasn't raining. Now granted it was early since I was in the first race, but it was looking pretty barren. Turned out to be not nearly as cold as I thought so the rain was ok. I headed out on my own to check out the course only to find that about half of it wasn't even set up yet as evidenced by me getting lost repeatedly. Fortunately the park was small so I couldn't go far. The most striking feature of this first sorta lap was the pavement... everywhere. Start on pavement, turn onto a short section of grass and trail with a log barrier, back onto a long stretch of Roubaix-esque pavement, little bit of dirt path, over a bridge, couple turns on grass, more pavement. Ditch off the pavement for about 10 seconds, back onto pavement, ditch off a couple more times, u turn on pavement, random useless detour to the left right before the finish (on pavement), repeat. It was also as close to flat as you'll find. All the pavement was slick so I saw several cases of road rash before we even started. Anywho... maybe 30 of us line up and the RD announces that he's got merch for 12-15 placed deep so keep racing... sweet! The whistle blows and as usual I let everyone including the guy with the big fat padded seat ride away from me. I paid for it at the log barrier as some guy face planted and f'd us all up. Lead 10 or so were gone already... great. I further messed myself up by taking a momentary dismount after jamming my front wheel into a hole mid-turn. I did manage to remount quickly and only momentarily lost a couple spots. The rest of the race went like this: sprint out corner, drop the guy with me, catch the next guy, do the same to him. I did have one guy who hung right on my wheel for over a lap and then I finally gapped him at some point and I think he later went down which finished him. I was happy to drop the last guy I was with going over the triple barrier at the bridge. I sprinted over it, remounted clean, and exited hard and I think that did him in. Rolled home 8th, missed my one point by maybe 15 seconds, and got some blinky light things. The layer of grunge on me and the bike was impressive and signaled a pretty fun low-budget race morning.

Today's race at Canton can best be described in one word: SUCK! Since I'm way less positive on it I'll even use a different format to add to the contrast from Saturday:

- Dragged my ass out of bed early, drove to the race, parking lot was empty, realized race was at 10, not 9.
- Tried to nap, had already finished a coffee... no luck
- At least it was sunny...
- Third warmup lap I found out that I'm not G. I was going around a right hand turn in the field and the front tire peeled off the rim. I had used the clinchers Saturday since I was going with higher pressure anyways due to the pavement. Tubies had been tested Thursday and had made it through 2 laps great. Lap 3 I just leaned a little going into the turn and that was it.
- Had to carry my bike back to the car, pull the wheels off, change into my running shoes, run to the pits where my other wheels already were, run back, change the wheels, and find myself with 10 more minutes until lineup
- Lined up second row, couldn't find my pedal at first, when I did find it I pedaled with the aggression of Barney. I don't know where I was at the start, but I sure wasn't in the race.
- Rode lap 1 like a total pansy and probably slower than my first warmup lap which is always slow
- Lap 2 it was race time (finally) and I started absolutely flying. Would love to have known how much faster I was that lap.
- Lap 3 I paid for lap 2 and Saturday's race. Still passing guys, but not as quickly
- ONLY bright spot was that I saw a teammate off in the distance on the final lap and reeled him all the way back in. Caught him right before the final barrier, gapped him, mounted clean, and rode away. I hate to do it to a teammate, but if you're ahead of me at the end of the race, you're probably fair game.

Ok, so now I've just rambled and wasted too much homework time. That's all for now... I might have some more coherent thoughts later or tomorrow.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


So I don't think I've reached the point of being de-listed by G for lack of content, but I've definitely been lax in posting anything. Work is a total beat down right now. I barely have time to take a leak, let along blog about it. The combination of school and home isn't much better. So to all 3 of you (I've progressed from having 2 known readers), my apologies for not giving you more stuff to waste your time reading :)

Should have some good race reports by late Sunday. Brockton Saturday, Canton Sunday. Bling wheels/tires get the maiden voyage tonight so as long as I don't roll one in the schoolyard up the road, I'll get the full test run Saturday. I might even be sporting the all new long-sleeve sausage casing, uh, skinsuit this weekend as long as I guessed right at the sizing. Most likely either I'll look like my son would if he put my bib shorts on or the sleeves will be at my elbows... if either is the case I'll get pictures.

Thank you sir may I have another...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Super short one

It's 7:30 a.m., I've been at work for an hour, and I'm already swamped. I actually was pre-screwed when I determined I couldn't come in Saturday. Anywho... decent weekend all things considered. Awesome ride yesterday. About 2 hours of combo riding on roads and trails on the cross bike. I felt it the rest of the day so I'm counting it as a good workout. Signed up last night for Brockton, Canton, and N. Hampton so that's my near-term plans. I also have plane tix to KS now so I'm official (I suppose I should find somewhere to stay too). This week is going to be insane. Let's see if I can keep the mojo from yesterdays ride going.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Streptococcus pyogenes

So where's G when you need a good microscope picture? At least now I have an excuse for feeling like ass this week. The story goes that after my last post where I thought I was nearly better, I took a turn back the other way. Last night my throat started to hurt again on the right side where it had started. It was kinda sore all the time and when I swallowed it felt like I had a stick stuck through it. Today I got up and it was no better, and possibly worse. I felt better overall than the beginning of the week so it was less annoying, but it definitely hurt. So I finally gave in and called the doctor. 3 hours later I finally hear from the on-call doctor who essentially chastises me for not having gotten a throat culture after a week with a sore throat. So I pack me and my take-home midterm in the car and head off to urgent care. Fortunately it wasn't a popular day to get sick or hurt so they were pretty quick to get me in and discover that I did in fact have strep. It surprised the heck out of the doctor because none of the symptoms were quite standard, but the test was very positive so that sealed it. 10 days worth of antibiotics for me and, sadly, a week's worth of training lost. Oh well, back at it tomorrow once the mold pills have kicked in.

So last night was another funny story. I get the idea in the morning that the Celtics game in Worcester would probably be a good take for me and the boys. I bought my dad a ticket too and got him to go pick them up during the day so we didn't have to wait in the line when we got there. So the boys were sufficiently impressed with the game and we were having a pretty good time until they canceled it at half time. For anyone who didn't read the news about it, they basically left the rink down and put the court on top of it, but unfortunately it was about 70 degrees yesterday so the ice started to melt and then they had condensation puddles all over the court. The coaches and players agreed it was unsafe to play so they called it. Well there was a near riot and 6 people were arrested for disorderly conduct. We blew out of there because the boys were clearly uncomfortable with the boos and shouts from the angry mob that was forming. I really wasn't that bothered by it so maybe that'll be a good example for them some day. Best news is that the team had a press release this morning saying they're issuing refunds.

Ok, back to the game (and beer). Go Sox!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I'm nearly well... now I just suck again

So that little chapter of bodily dysfunction was short lived (unless there's a relapse), but now I probably set myself back 2 weeks worth of training. Monday I was too ill to think. Tuesday I was functional if I kept the DayQuil drip running. Wednesday I felt almost well enough to do something active, but I've also been taking a MAJOR beating at work lately so I was tied up at work and then I had school. Today I brought stuff to run at lunch and then found myself with basically 12-2 to prepare for a 2 hour presentation (at 2) that was only about 1/2 done. Said presentation went to 4:30 and then it was an hour 15 to drive home. So here I sit, beer in hand, getting fatter and slower. Argh. Maybe if I catch up on the house work and the game is interesting I'll set up the trainer. Either that or I'll just put in a 4 day hammer fest between tomorrow and Monday to repent. I hate when the responsible side of life gets in the way of the fun side of life.

Not much else worth rambling about right now. I may have mentioned that I finally threw in the towel and I'm hiring out (to dad) for all major house projects. Finished basement is slated to start in a couple weeks so now I just have to do more of that responsibility thing to pay for it. It'll be nice to start to get a little more space. Still have dreams of building or buying some sort of shed or workshop that's directly attached to the back of the garage as my official bike room/workshop. Have to see if I can get approval from the chair(wo)man for that one...

If I get buried again tomorrow, happy racing this weekend all you crazy cross kids.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I am not well

Alternate title: It sucks getting old

It's been seeming like my roughly once per year sickness hits harder every year which is either a factor of getting old or having kids or both. Well this seems to be further proof. By Sunday night after dinner, all I wanted to do was go to bed and I could already tell that work was doubtful for yesterday. From watching my dad growing up, I learned that sick days just don't exist unless you have a limb hanging off (and that's debateable) or you have been restrained by the doctors so you know it was bad. Yesterday morning I just couldn't physically get out of bed. I slept for about 11 hours and then spent the whole day just doing basically nothing because it was about all I could muster to even be out of bed doing nothing. I got to bed early and decided to wait until this morning to decide on coming in today. When the alarm went off I at least felt like I was functional enough to drive myself to work and speak coherently so here I am. Unfortunately, it's sort of spiraling at this point... the weekend of racing should have left me in desparate need of food and water, but my terrible sore throat is making eating and drinking difficult so now I'm becoming weak and dehydrated. I took some more drugs to take the edge off and I'm now forcing myself to eat and drink. Sadly, I think what this means is that I'll be taking this coming weekend off from racing and catching up on everything I'm not doing right now.

Anywho... all this sitting around writing my sob story is wrinkling my skirt so I'll stop now. Besides, it could be worse... at least I don't have a horribly painful affliction of the ass. Sorry man that you're pain is my bright side...

Monday, October 15, 2007


Like the rest of the cross racing web, I had to get up a recap of the weekend in racing. I'll actually skip ahead to last night first when I came down with something that is currently kicking my ass. It's a good thing I raced early yesterday, because by the time I headed home I felt like crap with a terrible sore throat and headache. It was bad enough this morning that I just simply didn't get out of bed. Honestly, I'm not feeling much better so I hope this passes. My wheels did show up today and I got the tires mounted to stretch so that makes me feel a little better :) By the way, as soon as the tires are glued, I've got a set of Ksyrium Elites up for sale. Brand new going into the season and they've been raced 5 times with some associated training. $300 or b.o.

So the race reports... I have to say that both days went relatively well all things considered. Being in the front row was huge for me since I have a horrible tendency to get off the line and then settle in behind people instead of fighting my way through. In contrast, one of the guys on the team was 50 or 60 places back at the start line and Saturday he passed me before turn 1 and Sunday he passed me before the top of the road. I got him back, but still, he put on a clinic off the line. Both races were very similar for me so no real need for separate reports. I got off the line fairly well although Sunday I missed my pedal at first. I did at least 5 laps of the course as warmup both days so there were no secrets at all. I knew where to lay off the brakes, which line I liked, which parts got chewed up throughout the day Saturday. Saturday we did 5 laps and I was about 3:30 back from the winner. Sunday was did 6 laps and I was about 3:30 back from the winner. I was pumped when they put up the extra lap because I knew I'd have more time to pick guys off and ride away from others. I did the math and I was averaging about 30 seconds a lap faster Sunday as was the rest of the field I'm sure since it was more dry and packed. I rode the course relatively clean both days so in the end I think I did all I could do. I was in no man's land both days so I had no chance to catch the group ahead and I could sit up without worrying about the guys behind. I guess now all I have to do is get more training in so I can close that gap to the leaders before December. It was great to get cheers from all over and to have lots of guys to yell for. The team did incredible with 6 or 7 podiums between the 2 days and about 20 guys racing. Sunday the family came up and me and the oldest stayed until the end of the men's elite which was a blast. He was all into running back and forth between the barriers and the SRAM up and down thingy. Good times were had by all.

OK, I need food or a nap or both. I get sick maybe once a year and it sucks every time I do.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A tribute of sorts...

So I had this great uncle Walter who passed away last year. As kids we visited Walter's house regularly enough that we all have lots of memories. He was the cool relative that you wanted to go see... lived on an apple orchard, had an air hockey table in his house, in-ground pool in the back yard, let kids practice driving this old beater car when they were like 14, had a ham radio in his basement and postcards from all around the world from his radio friends... all around cool guy. I learned just last year he was also a decorated war vet and one of the first to arrive and free people from the concentration camps at the end of the war. As it turns out, Walter also liked those visits enough to include the family in a (very) small portion of his estate. The simple fact he did really choked us up all over again.

So when the charities, kids, and house were done with my little slice, me and the mrs. each got something nice. Solo with his impeccable timing tipped me off to a steal on Ksyrium tubulars on the same day I found out about all this so my something nice was, of course, bike bling. And I still don't know how to glue a tire...

The Belgian Way or the Old School Way

Ok, there's a back story, but I found myself with some fancy tubulars so now I'ze gots some learnin to do... Can anyone comment on whether there's a difference in strength or amount of work to glue some tires if I do the old school multiple coats of glue method or the supposed "Belgian method" of a layer or two of glue on the rim and tire sandwiched on a layer of tape? The glue-n-tape method seems faster, but faster is not always better...

Back story later

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Let's see... lots to catch up on since last week, but I'll go with the condensed version since A) I've got homework to do and B) you probably don't care anyways (at least pretend you do... humor me).

Friday: Got up late, decided not to bike to work, turned out I should have. It took me longer to drive home than it would to bike home on a bad day... with a headwind... with a flat tire. Got some dinner with the family and then hit the shop to buy a new light, a new helmet for one of the munchkins, and a spare wheel. Stayed up too late watching baseball.

Saturday: Was allowed to sleep in for a bit despite the fact that I was going to spend the middle of the day at the ANT Open House. She really is super :) . Rode the 20ish down to Mike's place then headed out for a leisurely 20 mile ride with the rest of the people who showed. It was a fun parade of some incredible bikes. Afterwards we gorged on some tasty Indian food and general fun was had by all. Sandbagged a little and got a ride home after. Tried to go to bed early while my wife was out with the ladies trying to scrounge free drinks before they flashed the wedding rings and pics of the kiddies :)

Sunday: Family XC adventure. I biked down to the race in a light mist which was an adventure since I had my glasses on and it became a toss up on whether I could see better with or without them. Made it in one piece and then proceeded to stand around in the cold until time to run. I ran with the 5 y.o. this year since I ran with the oldest last year. He did incredible and ran every step of the way. I think he finished at 11 minute pace, but who really cares. Oldest was about 20 seconds in front of him and just needs a little work on pacing and he'll be a speedster. We got some friends to chase the monkeys while both of us lined up for the 5k. Huge field, good XC weather, challenging course. Much fun was had by all and we all needed a nap.

Monday: Mommy was working so it was guys day at the homestead. Killed some time by trying to get the oldest clothes that actually fit him (he's 6 and size 8's fit him well). Then I got the bright idea that the littlest should pick out a hermit crab. The back story is that a friend of the middle one bought him a hermit crab house for his b-day last year. Well that's a signal that we will be buying a hermit crab and better make it 2 so it's "fair". Well I didn't kill the stupid things yet so I figure lets go for broke. Well $100 later we now have 3 hermit crabs living in the Ritz of crab houses. And I'll still be the only one who takes care of them.

Today: Rode in and the ride in kinda sucked. Caught every light red. Traffic where there's never any. Lots of curb feelers on the road (you know... those jackasses who drive like they're in a freaking parking spot on the side of the road). Ah well... made it in one piece. Ride home was much better. Tail wind, cloudy so there was minimal solar glare, felt a little stronger. Did my good deed for the day by stopping to help some nice Australian lady with a flat. Her spare tube was junk and I offered her one (after confirming said tube was junk), but she had already called for a ride so she said thanks anyways.

Ok... not super short after all, but trust me... I can talk way longer than that so if you made it this far be grateful.

Gloucester Saturday... need to be aggressive at the start... that's all I'm telling myself this week.


I have lots of catch up to do, but this one was priceless as a starting point...

The "timeout spot" for our 2 year old is to go sit in front of the dishwasher on the kitchen floor for 2 minutes. He gets put there a lot these days. So yesterday he starts hauling these chairs from the playroom out to the kitchen and I asked him what he was doing. He said "I need go timeout". OK... so I watch him proceed to set himself up with the sweet digs for his regular timeout sessions:

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Not the training week I would have planned

So somehow this week went to hell from a training standpoint. I'm real big on the idea of hammering yourself 2 and 1 weeks before an event and then taking the week leading up to it really easy. So I got in some decent riding last week, raced twice on Sunday and then... then... crickets. I ran Monday with some dead tired legs. Tuesday was a forced day off because I had to go spend an hour and a half in a dentist's chair. That one really hosed me because Tuesday is almost never an off-day. Yesterday I tried to salvage something by heading out after work and running over to the common. When I got there I found a short steep grassy hill (not un-rideable steep, but the best I could find in downtown Boston) and did all-out sprint repeats up said hill. Sprint up, jog back down, repeat 20 times. I was approaching that feeling of wanting to vomit by the end so I at least know I went hard enough. The legs were also a little wobbly on any remote incline running back so I knew I did something. No biking though. My plan tonight is to get out of here early enough to ride before my wife's soccer game and then ride in tomorrow. The weekend is a question mark so we'll see. Sunday there's a cross country race that my kids are doing and I'll probably race too. Maybe I'll ride there first and make that the last real hard day before Gloucester. We'll see...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Tubular or not... that is the question

So I'm in the market for a spare rear wheel for the cross bike. While I'm not nearly good enough (yet) to justify not just walking off the course if I flat, I am stubborn and competitive enough to want to sprint to the pits, change a wheel, and get back at it. I'm going to get in the habit of bringing pit wheels, but as of right now the garage is showing 2 fronts and no rears. So then I got thinking... hey, if I'm buying a rear wheel anyways, would it be worth it to go tubular on the rear, use the rear clincher as the spare, and just keep the front clincher on. One cross friendly wheel/tire combo is better than nothing... right?

Now for those of you who might still be reading and have a) no idea what I'm talking about, and b) couldn't care even if you did, you must understand that these are the questions that bike racers, and cross racers specifically, love to obsess over. Hell G spent like 4 days talking about what kind of brakes were best... Combine and engineering/scientist type with a bike racer and you've got more material for obsessive conversations about details than you can ever imagine.

Anywho... so maybe sometime soon I'll have reason to learn to glue a tubular. We'll see where I go with that. First I have to buy a new light so I can survive riding to work and still have a reason to worry about this. Stupid short days...

Monday, October 01, 2007

Amesbury Report(s)

What a wild a tiring weekend this was (like most are). I came close to overdoing it this time, but we made it through. Saturday morning I met one of the guys at 7 for an hour of pre-race cross practice, then it was home for a quick shower and off to soccer, then it was off to pick up one of my golf partners for the day, then it was 5 hours worth of mediocre golf, then dinner, then drop the guy off, then a dinner party, then finally bed at 11:30. Sunday it was off to Amesbury at about 6:30, beginners race at 9, hang out till 11:30, get my son ready for the kids race at 12:30, get myself ready for the 3/4 race at 1, finish the race, pack up the kids, lunch for the kids, home to unpack the car, dinner and typical house stuff, finally crashed at 10. Phew...

So the race(s) can probably be categorized as acceptable. After last week's debacle, anything would have been better and I felt great Saturday putting in some intervals and doing some cross skills. Beginner race lined up with about 6 of us from the club in there. We got started almost 15 minutes late because they had this really hairy sort of off-camber downhill into a stair run up that the officials made them take out at the last second. Finally the whistle blows and we're off, but the charge is interrupted quickly. There was basically a funnel maybe 100 yards into the course where you had to squeeze between 2 trees adorned with hay bails. Well someone clipped or rode into the right hand one and it fell over right into the course and right in front of yours truly. OK, nice... another shitty start position. Got around that nonsense and it was the usual mayhem of weaving through crowds and guys trying to establish a position. The course was ok, but to be honest the half (or more) that was wooded could have easily been a mountain bike course. The roots were just ridiculous and I don't know how I survived the whole day without a flat. I was handling the bike well and I felt 100 times better than last week so that was all positive. With 2 to go, I was reeling in the group that was the back end of the top 20 and had 2 of my teammates in it and I know I would have closed it until... On the right hand hairpin before the barriers I leaned over too far and caught a root and out went the rear wheel. Hopped up and got on the bike to find the chain was off (always check first kids). It took what felt like forever to get it back on and the whole time guys were going by me. Finally I got motoring again, but mentally, I just went into the mode of knowing I had another race to do. I got several guys back and ended up I think 26th, but I should have been well within the top 20 so that was a disappointment.

I had zero expectations for the 3/4 race. I'm at the line chatting with one guy and I noticed G had decided to make the drive worthwhile and line up for the second race too. He tells me to come over next to him because it's a better line through the 2 trees and that way he can also just suck my wheel the whole race. Oh, and Lynn B was there again to give all the boys a whooping. So we head off and into the funnel it stacks up again. This time I ride right up G's ass, thought I could stand on it long enough to keep going, but I had to put a foot down and that was all she wrote. I was DFL going into the barriers so I instantly went into the mode of "this will be a nice practice session". That said, I kept "racing" the whole time and continued to pick off guys who were also not having races you want to brag about. My "victory" of the race came when I actually got to hear the bell for one to go and I hadn't seen the leaders yet... Aw yah... no lappage this week.

Overall, a very fun day of racing. Course wasn't anything great, but most of blog-land was out so I got to see G and CTodd and talked to lots of people who had seen the bike here. There was some good mojo from the crowds too and even when you're DFL you like to look good for the cowbell ringers so it keeps you going. My son did great in the kids race, especially with it being his first one. He was disappointed because he went down in the turny section and fell behind a little. I tried to point out all the positives of his first race, but he's so hyper-competitive that I don't think he was buying it. He did say he wants to know when the next one is so at least he's not giving up.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Nature is still cool

Someone was busy at my house Sunday night:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Anyone care to vote?

Ok, so maybe only the riders out there will care to vote...

I need a new headlight for my bike. Uses will be commuting (on lots of suburban unlit streets), cyclocross training, some mountain biking. Minimum run time of 3+ hours to get me to and from work. Max price $400, but preferrably closer to $300. Helmet mount option required.

Too many options, too much data. Defaulting to first hand recommendations. C'mon G... you've got an opinion on everything...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Time for a couple stories

One for the bike racing crowd, one for the parents:

So we had all kinds of chatter going on in the club message board after Sunday's race. One of the guys commented that he watched the 3/4 race from the pits with Stu Thorne who coaches and pits for Lyne Bessette and that they had noticed the bike. So then he goes on to tell say that now even the elite crossers know about the beast and throws in "... and Stu was even rooting for you a little at the end to not get lapped by Lyne". Hmmmm, should I feel better that a pro coach thinks I have a pretty enough bike to give me a pity cheer? Maybe if he's offering some free coaching so I suck less then I'll feel better :) It's all good though... cross is a season where you have to be able to laugh at yourself because there WILL be something to laugh at yourself for.

My boys were at the in-law's house a couple weekends ago and the oldest was in the driveway playing with grampa. One of the cats comes strolling up the driveway carrying what's left of a rabbit (these cats are the most dangerous hunters I think I've seen... I'm waiting for one of them to drag a bear up the street some day) and grampa shooed it away and said "bad cat". My fine young lad says "Grampa, why is he a bad cat?" and grampa then goes on to explain that the cats are always bringing home things and then he has to clean up after them. To this, the child who appears to not listen to a word that anyone says to him replies "Well grampa, if you're going to have pets then you have to take care of them and clean up their messes and stuff you know." At least the boy has learned the proper way to call someone out...

Back to work... or eating... probably both...

Now that's more like it

I knew my long lost biking legs would come back to me one of these days. Had a great ride in this morning... 23+ on the flats comfortably, blew a couple cars off the line, couple of 20mph uphills, didn't get run over... all the makings for a fun morning ride. Also a very nice contrast to the last couple days. You've read the woes of my Sunday suckage and then I went out yesterday morning and was just a train wreck. Couldn't get my HR above 145, couldn't get my brain to wake up, couldn't get my legs to do anything. Turns out though that the train wreck was probably a good recovery ride.

Anywho... I'm sure I shall be floged yeah verily today for taking yesterday off to play golf. Hopefully time for more stories later... I've got em lined up...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

There are no secrets in cross

I've always said this... cross is a different kind of bike racing. There's no sitting in the pack catching a draft and then hoping to be in good position in the end. You show up to a cross race out of shape and out of practice it's "So long, bye bye." That's what makes it both fun and painful for me. You get pretty much instant feedback on how well trained you are without getting annoyed that some guy's team is going to gang up on you and give him a free ride to the line. I think it's a more pure form of competition which is why I like it.

So enough with the philosophy... How'd Bedford and the maiden voyage of the clown bike go you ask... Well, let's just say I showed up out of shape and out of practice. I could easily spin the wheel of excuses here, but I won't (much). I haven't raced since July 8th and that day I ended up on my way to surgery. As a result of that and my natural suckitude off-road, I was very very tentative on all terrain and it cost me. I also have been primarily running so the legs just aren't there. Now cross is a long enough season so let's try to spin some positive messages into today's race:

Negative: I sucked
Positive: My bike kicks ass (thanks again Mike)

Positive: I didn't crash
Negative: I forgot to take me skirt off before the race so if I had crashed the way I was riding, I'd really be packing it in.

Negative: I got lapped by the top 4 or 5
Positive?: One of them was Lynne Bessette

Positive: I saw THE CTodd and got to chat for a few
Negative: I think he was one of the ones heckling me while I was on my own way way off the back

Positive: My knee that I banged the crap out of while doing drills yesterday cooperated during the race.
Negative: It feels like ass right now.

So next week is another race and another chance to suck less. I was also time constrained today and could only ride the 3/4's which was obviously over my head so I'll take a step back and ride the 4's next week and then maybe just do the 3/4's to make the drive worthwhile.

To the couple of new people I ran into today who said they had seen the bike here... thanks for reading. Hope you sucked less than me today.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Full photo shoot

I ain't no photographer for sure, but here's a little better presentation of the beast:

Full gallery can be viewed here.

By the way, the bathroom scale test (weigh self, pickup bike, do math) is telling me 22.5 pounds. Not bad at all considering that the weight of the frame, fork, and headset sans top cap is 8.74 pounds!

Now let's see if I can actually ride this biatch for what it's worth...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

First Look

I apologize for some hurried and crappy bike photography, but I wanted to get the first shot out there. I'll hopefully be conducting a proper photo shoot tomorrow.

I bring it on myself

I always need to be careful about how much I whine and cry about how little time/sleep I have because I know that I've chosen all the stuff I have going on. Kids... house... racing... commuting... school... nobody to blame but me. It always seems though that at the times I've chosen to overextend myself, an S-storm hits from some other area that wasn't planned for. This time it's all hell breaking loose at work combined with the dishwasher finally calling it quits. I had to hack it back together last year because the latch broke and then a combination of me being busy and forgetting caused me to never order new parts. Well this morning it finall said no more so now I have to get the parts damn quick and stay up till midnight some night replacing them or just call uncle, drop the money for a new one, and call in a favor to dad to come out and hook it up some day so I'm not banging around doing that at midnight. We'll see, but we'll see quick since having to wash the dishes by hand could be the breaking point.

Anywho... I'll take my skirt off now and stop the whining... my choices... deal with it.

On the fun side (hopefully), I'm registered for Bedford this weekend so lets hope I have a bike by then. Since it is now 4 days before the race, I haven't done any cross practice since nationals last year, I don't even have a bike to practice on, and I'll be getting used to the new one, I'll be taking it very easy and not doing anything stupid. I rode in yesterday and the legs feel better than expected for a couple days after RTB so I should be able to make my way through the easy sections quickly. I'll probably be a mess though on anything that doesn't involve riding straight so I'll just ease up so I don't t-bone a barrier and end my cross season the way my road and mountain seasons ended...

Need more food...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Summary - Part 2

Make sure to scroll down to read the overall summary first. Then you can come back up here and read the business end of the story.

Here's the mildly ego-tastic self-congratulatory segment of our race story. I'm very proud of the grit that our team showed (especially the newbies and those who went in injured), but I'm also pleased that I finally nailed this event (mostly). It only took 5 tries.

Leg 10, listed distance 4.9miles, measured distance 5.7 miles, time 34:48, pace 6:06
This leg was, terrain-wise, the hardest I had. There are 3 notable climbs that all come in the second half. The first just will not end and has sections that kick to about 9%. The second comes pretty soon after, but is a little easier. The third is right up to the finish and kicks up to over 9% a couple times. I started out completely wired on adrenaline and had to dial it back about a mile in. I was happy to find that even with the murderous hills I was recovering very quickly on the downhills. I decided during this leg I wouldn't count road kill this year. That said, I know I was over 50 total for my 4 legs.

Leg 21, actual distance 7.1 miles, time 50:50, pace 7:09
Let's just spin the wheel of excuses on this one... Hmmm, we've got "Started at 4 a.m.", "Waited an extra 20 minutes in the cold rain for the handoff", "Had to take a lengthy pee break", "It was raining", and "Realizing I still had 2 to go after I finished". I think I'll go with the pee break Pat. If I take out 45 seconds for that, my pace drops to 7:03. If we go with a side of cold and tired, I think we've got a full fledged excuse.

Leg 32, actual distance 6.8 miles, time 42:16, pace 6:12
This was my physical and moral victory of the event. I've done this leg twice before and it kicked the crap out of me both times. I felt amazingly good when I started since I had gotten a little sleep and had apparently sandbagged my second leg. I dialed it back going up this major pain in the ass hill that's at about half way and then just opened it up coming back down. The last mile plus is flat so that helped too. I actually got worried near the end that my wife wouldn't be ready because I knew I was early. Fortunately she was and I got to celebrate for a second before I got changed to go again.

Leg 36, actual distance 4.3 miles, time 25:45, pace 5:59
Clearly an adrenaline fueled leg. I started just soon enough that I hadn't stiffened up from the previous run. Another half hour and I would have been toast. I did spend the entire middle part of the leg worrying that I was one step away from a crippling leg cramp. There were a few bursts of cross/headwind to contend with, but otherwise the weather was great and it was dead flat with some easy downhill at the beginning. I was passing people at an alarming rate and I dropped the hammer as soon as I could see the finish tent.

Total distance - 23.9 miles
Total time - 2:33:39
Average pace - 6:25

To top it off I used the stairs to come up into work today and then went back down and up to get breakfast. I can't wait for cross.

Slightly Stiff Summary - Part One

Well... we made it. It took a hell of a lot longer than usual and longer than planned, but we did it... again. My 5th RTB is in the books and I have to say that it was as fun as usual. Here's somewhat of a recap and I'll post the leg summary in the next post:

Our start time this year was 11:20 a.m. on Friday which was unusual because we had a slower predicted time than last year, but this was almost an hour later than last year's start. I think it was partially due to the large number of teams and might have been because we were a veteran team so our risk of being really off from plan was lower. The drive up was uneventful and we arrived with plenty of time to sign in and get runner 1 ready. Funny story from the way up: We got close and we suddenly saw at least a dozen runners running on Route 93 S against traffic! Sucks when you take a wrong turn on leg 2 of the race. I wonder how far they got before they realized it was wrong. Oh, and their leg was already over 9 miles without a detour... sucks to be you kids. I was in van 2 so we headed out to get gas, kill time, and hang out where we were starting. We finally got into action at something like 4 p.m. and the fun was on. Lowlight from our first set was my lovely wife coming in with her leg covered in blood. Turned out she stepped in a pothole and went down, banging her knee pretty good. To her credit, she shrugged it off as a momento of the event and still ran every step of her 15 miles for the race.

We had about a 2.5 hour break at the next starting point for us and we all tried to doze a little until midnight when we got going again. It didn't really work, but we tried. Literally just as we were taking the handoff for our second set, the rain started (it wouldn't be RTB without it). I was probably the most fortunate as most of my leg was in sort of just a refreshing drizzle. A couple people got totally poured on. We finally finished up this set at sometime after 6. We hit a DnD for some snacks and then it was off to our "big" block of sleep. Hysterical story from DnD... we're in there and a guy comes in impatiently asking if he can cut the line. We notice he's wearing the wrist band (baton) from the event. Turns out it was his turn to run and he was cruising by and thought an iced coffee sounded good. He grabbed it and continued on and we saw him a mile up the road with a huge smile carrying his iced coffee. We headed off to our next starting spot and I had to pull over part way there to get someone to drive since I hadn't slept yet and was declaring myself dangerous to drive. We got there safe and then I finally got a massive hour and a half of sleep which, by the way, made all the difference.

By now the team as a whole was about 45 minutes behind plan due to a number of things including the rain, some murderously hard legs, and some digestive issues going on with some people in my van. This event really is a matter of, shall we say "plumbing management" and it can be a truly miserable experience if you don't keep your stomach and the ins and outs that are connected happy. We started up again at maybe 11:30 a.m. for set 3, but 2 of us still had 2 legs to go since the team was a runner short. By the time we got rolling, the rain had stopped, the sun was coming back out, we were getting close to done, and the conversations had just turned ridiculous as they only can with a bunch of really exhausted runners.

The way the last 3 legs were working was that van 2 finished our 3rd set, we handed back to van 1 for one leg, then they handed back to us for the final 2. It's all part of our carefully orchestrated plan to get the right people doing the extra work while taking advantage of the rules on dropping people. The downside is that if people get hurt at the end, the few who are left in are screwed and they also get very short rest. I basically finished my 3rd leg, toweled off, put dry running clothes on, drank and ate as much as I comfortably could, and then had to loosen up to go again. I think my total break was less than an hour and a half.

The sight of the ocean in this event makes you feel like you could run another several miles and this year was no different. I had the final leg and I was just waiting for that bend in the road when it's just there in front of you. The bad part was that as soon as I got onto the boardwalk I could also see ALL the way down the beach to where I had to go. I just tried to keep chugging and prayed every step that the twinges in my quads wouldn't go into full cramp mode. I did make it, but not without one final "event". Since teams like to cross the line together, they started giving the final runner a baton at the entrance to a chute that they set up so nobody could sneak across and pretend like they were done. Well I was hauling since I could see the line and when I got to the guy handing them out, he wasn't ready with one. I got by him and he yelled to take one so I had to turn back a little to get one. The problem was that the chute was along a sand dune and there was this shrub thing on the right side of it. Between turning back hurriedly and then spinning around again, I had wandered off the path a little and was literally in the shrub. I just high stepped it through, but ended up with scratches all over my right leg from it. Oh well... it'll be a longer lasting reminder.

Ok, fingers need a break and then I'll type up the report of my legs.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The most interesting RTB yet?

This year is going to be my 5th (and likely final) year at Reach the Beach. Every year has been fun and interesting for a different reason, but obviously all fun enough to keep me coming back. After a while though, the novelty of the event wears off and the magnitude of the prep work and the event itself starts to weigh on you. I think I've hit that point. That said, I can already see stories developing that I'm sure will be very funny later. We currently have 3 of the 11 who have informed the team that they are injured, out of shape, or otherwise unsure of themselves. We also have I believe the most lopsided "mixed" team I've ever been on. There are 7 women and only 4 of us guys and the way we split up the vans has me in a van with 5 women... for over 24 hours... who are all in great shape... Oh, and one of them is my lovely wife :) I'm actually very excited to have her there this year (and no I'm not just writing that because I know she'll read this). Her joining the team has been about a year and a half in the making and I'm excited for her to see first hand what all the stories are about. I'm actually very proud of her since she's a self-proclaimed non-runner and the prospect of doing something like this even 5 years ago would have been absolutely absurd to her. I'm sure I'll tell you 100 more times, but good job babe.

So bring on the lack of sleep, the inevitable "van smell", the sore muscles, the loss of all modesty, the port-o-john lines, the screwed up stomach, the main streets and backroads of New Hampshire, and the events that won't be funny until later. Oh yah, now I remember why I keep going back...