Monday, April 30, 2007

Down and out

I'll keep this short to avoid veering off into a flaming rant...

Diagnosis from the doctor is a likely 6 weeks of no leg-related aerobic exercise. I've got a significant tear of some tendon in my right groin and it just need to heal and the stuff around it needs to strengthen to support it. Progress check in 2 weeks so I'll behave until then, but then we'll see how limited I am. Keep that cross counter rolling G... I'm going to be good and pissed by then so it looks like cross may have to be my main season after all.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I could have taken a more subtle hint

If someone out there doesn't want me riding a bike, why couldn't they have just gotten them stolen or something? Yesterday, my week went from bad to ridiculous.

Headed out to Sturbridge for the 3/4 race yesterday. This was my first 3/4 road race and really I don't remember if I've done any 4 or 4/5 races since I upgraded. Racing up builds character (or something). Field was probably about 100 and the weather was quite nice... shorts and short sleeves all the way even though I saw several sets of arm and knee warmers around. The race was 7 laps of a reportedly 7 mile loop, although my computer at the end of the race said something like 43.5 miles so they rounded up I guess. We rolled out last on the day and the rollout was uneventful even though I did end up at the back which worried me for a second in case some guys were ambitious and took off. Not to worry though as NEBC sent one guy up the road like they do in every race I've ever been in, but we knew he'd be back. About a mile past the S/F line, there's a REALLY sketchy right turn that's about 130 degrees and sort of off-camber. Amazingly there were no serious mishaps on that turn, but it's always a tough one because it goes mildly downhill after and guys always go screaming off of the turn. If you're too far back it requires quite a sprint to stay on. Then it's probably close to a mile uphill, most of it almost false-flat-ish, but the last 400m or so is legit, although still big-ringable. Legs were responding very well on the uphill and I just followed the pace of the crowd. Then it's a short screaming down, some flats, a keep you honest short uphill, and then the finish stretch of about 1.5k which is really fast. The RD managed to arrange closed road for the entire loop which is amazing, but it was only partially meaningful for most of the race because there were cars coming the other way the whole race. I will throw out props to the Blue Angels who lead/trail the fields at this race on their m'cycles and do an awesome job.

It's fair to say that for whatever reason, the field was just plain sketchy. We'd go from like 23 to 18 in 2 seconds on an open section of road with nobody off the front. I almost got taken out going up the hill because some guy squeezed me, I got my bars partially hooked, and then me and that guy had to untangle on the move. I got elbowed into the left gutter even though I clearly had a lane. Then I had to return the favor to a guy who tried to squeeze me off the road on the right. I think the whole open road thing hurt in this case because everyone wanted the front row even though nobody wanted to do anything when they got there. We even had a crash on lap one on a dead flat section of the widest road. There was a steady stream of 1-4 guys who'd go off the front, their team(s) might try to block a little, and they'd get maybe 20-30 seconds max. On lap 4, partially as an experiment, I tried a solo bridge up to 2 guys who were out about 20 seconds. I got off the front pretty easily and then realized I had one with me. This could have been good because 4 of us might have stayed off for a while, but I got 2/3 of the way and realized I just didn't have enough legs. I sat up just before the keep-you-honest hill so I could get a breath and latch back on. Other than that nonsense, I just tried to stay invisible and do very little work.

With 1 to go, I made sure I was in the front third. I was probably 20th going through the sketchy turn and then stayed near the front on the long hill and followed pace. I hauled up the last hill and got 15th or 20th through the last turn onto the finish road. Then things blew up. Instead of one of the teams that had 4 or 5 gunning it and forming the pointy end of the race, it almost immediately went like 6 or 7 wide with everyone filling the whole road. There was maybe a 3 guy train on the right, but then it was just a mass of speeding bikers. I was staying left and catching on to guys going forward with the hopes that we'd be the fast line and we'd surprise the right train. I was in an ok position, but looking back now, I might have been able to get in the top 20, but I wasn't going to win from where I was. With about 500m to go, some guy to the right of me squeezed over and all hell broke loose. I tried to hold him off, but got pushed far enough left that I think my front wheel caught on something and I got launched forwards. One other guy got taken out too and I honestly don't know if he hit me or if he got knocked down also. One guy who was on the back said all of a sudden he just looked up and saw my bike about 10 feet in the air. The good news is no bones broken and my squash is intact. I have more road rash than anyone deserves and if you must know, a lot of it is on my ass which is making for a very pleasant experience. The most concerning injury is some sort of groin muscle pull or tear that I could feel pop during the crash. It's swollen and almost feels like there's something missing where there should be a muscle.

The bright side, if there is one, is that I definitely had the fitness going on. Computer said avg speed of 24.5 mph, avg HR 145, max 175, distance 43.5ish. I looked down at one point on the finish road about half way through the race and HR was 119. Let's see how long it takes me to get back on the horse, that is when I have one to get back on. I've got one road bike that's trapped in insurance land and another that needs a damage assessment. I've got two wrecked Ksyriums and who knows what else. We'll see if they can be rebuilt or what. I've still got the SS and the mountain bike, so we'll see when me leg lets me get out.

There you go G... how's that for a report? Oh, I did see Kerry at the race. She said it was a pack finish in the women's pro and looked semi-satisfied. My teammate saw her later and says "Pink wheels... that's awesome!" :) There you go Kerry, tell the sponsors the crowd likes 'em too.

That's all bike racers and friends. Time to go change some bandages. Oh, and by the way, hold your lines please.

Friday, April 27, 2007

My "Holy crap" moment

So normally I don't get too hung up on what could have happened. I, like most parents, of course have visions of the horrible things that could happen if you're not careful ( You'll shoot your eye out), but once something is over and done I don't waste much energy on what could have happened because it didn't. Yesterday was a little bit of an exception. I was replaying in my head the impact with the car. For anyone who's ever been in any kind of accident and wasn't very seriously hurt, this stuff usually plays back in crystal clear HD for as long as you want it to. What occurred to me is how little the guy missed my leg by. The impact was basically his driver's front corner right on the rear quick release. Next time you're on your bike, put your left leg in any position you want and look at how close your foot/ankle/leg is to where the guy hit me. That sunk in a little yesterday and a sense of 'Holy Shit!' set in for a few. Oh well, like I said, it didn't happen so no sense worrying.

Damage estimate is in... this guy is probably going to fall over when he finds out the price of bike parts. Oh well... maybe it'll teach him to pay attention. Then again, I still won't assume he sees me...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bright Side: It could have been an Escalade

Well, my ride home last night was way more exciting than I wanted. Here's the short version which I posted elsewhere:

So I rode into work today as I've been trying to do once or twice a week. All rides so far have been uneventful. Today... not so much. I wasn't thrilled that the weather nerds got it wrong again, but no big deal. My route takes me on route 20 through the main part of Waltham which can be an adventure, but usually just requires being awake and watching everyone. I went through the light at Prospect St right in front of Frank's and was cruising along without any traffic around me (I think they got held up by someone turning). There are a few side streets on the right and I see this car up the road stopped like he was going to take a left into one of the streets, but he looks like he has overshot the turn so he's almost making a partial u-turn to go into the street. He waited a long time to actually turn and I could see he had been staring in my direction so I figured he was waiting. Just as I got close enough to not really have an out, he hits the gas and goes for the street. I knew I couldn't stop in time to not ride right into the side of the car and he sort of checked up mid-turn so I figured he saw me and was stopping. I went in front of him in an arc into the side street figuring worst case he'll see me when I'm in front of him. Well, I think the first time he saw me was when I was sliding through the crosswalk. I had made it most of the way by, but then he drove right into the rear wheel. Him hitting me along with the wheel getting tacoed and coming to a dead stop sort of just tossed me over sideways. I landed primarily on my hip/butt and have a pretty impressive bruise/raspberry to show for it. I was able to roll on my back and skid on my backpack a few feet so really the damage to me was minimal. The bike is an unknown... obviously destroyed rear wheel (sorry Neil... that free wheel WAS working great), bars should be replaced because the hit the ground and got scratched up, frame might be bent. If there's a bright spot, I carried it a block to Frank's and asked him to go over it for me and then he let me hang out and wait for a ride.

The colorful version:
The way they guy was making the turn it was obvious that he couldn't drive which f'd me up more. He sort of paused twice in the middle of doing it so it gave me the sense (twice) that he saw me. When he ever accelerated and drove right into me it was just sheer disbelief. I probably scared the life out of him because I bounced up pretty quickly and walked towards the car using of course the highest quality of language to express my displeasure :) I think it was something to the effect of "What the f$&k were you looking at?" I was really worried for a minute because he immediately started in with asking me how much it would cost to fix everything and that he wanted to pay me so it didn't go against his insurance. I was waiting for the follow up of "I don't have insurance". The shop is supposed to call today with the damage assessment and then I'm going to write it up and give him a very limited time to pay me. A small part of me wants to do it through his insurance so he gets several years worth of painful reminders to pay attention while he's driving. Heaven forbid one of those hooligans on a two-wheeled machine try to share the road with him and get in his way. Honestly, as long as he pays up I'll just let it go. It could have been sooooooooo much worse. My wife actually handled it VERY well. I did have to make that phone call which started out with "First I'll tell you I'm fine, but..." It worked out extra well because the first call I made was to tell her I needed a ride since she was over 20 miles away and I knew it would take a while. I told her to get me at the shop and she just sort of assumed the bike came apart on me or something and said she'd call me back. She's just thankful and will be fine eventually.

Ok, time to work. I'm going to have to get up every 30 minutes or so and walk around today to try and keep this hip loose. I'll find out tonight how it feels while riding.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Commuting day

Wrapping up the hard part of the pre-race week with the trek in and back today. I was going to write up this big long thing this morning because I was all juiced with my ride in, but now my lack of sleep is setting in so let's just sum it up by saying it was fast and fun. Primarily green lights and elapsed time was down. Ride home may not be so forgiving with the weather moving in. We shall find out.

Bad week for the bikes... brought the race rig in for a tuneup and ended up having to replace the carbon seatpost because it was cracked. Then I got it home last night and put it on the trainer (no time to go out in the daylight) and found out that I and the shop had missed the fact that the BB was loose or something. Creaks when climbing and if you tourqued the arms around you could see it moving a little. Swapped the wheel on the commuter and put that on the trainer to finish the workout and realized the whole steering stack was loose so things were rattling (should have checked this earlier because I thought I was getting some weirdness going over the roots on the bike path). Got that all tightened up so it's happy again. Let's hope things go right with the race bike... what was that rule about never doing work right before a race? Must get out on it tomorrow night and/or Friday to be sure. If Sturbridge were going unusually well and I had a mechanical I would not at all be pleased. I really wish I had more time to work on my bikes myself, but I just have to rely on the shop/sponsor or the things would be coming apart under me when I didn't maintain them. Gotta make the tradeoffs...

Need food...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Too early to be nervous?

Ok, Sturbridge isn't till Saturday and I'm already nervous. I think the last time I was this anxious this far ahead of an event I ran 7hrs 31min for 50 miles... good sign... we'll see. Fitness test yesterday morning went pretty well. 40 miles, 1hour 58min. I never really pushed it at all. Not a shred of flat road on the loop. I told my wife I'm cautiously optimistic. Who knows, I could be OTB 5 miles in. Too many days away to worry about it so I should just calm down. Ok, enough rambling on that.

So I'm not sure if this one gets filed under PSA, TMI, PITA, or FUBAR, but it's kinda funny nonetheless. Let's start by saying that when your saddle sits 90.5cm above the bottom bracket, shaving is a bit more time consuming than for most. Because I'm both busy and sorta lazy with some things, I decided to take the advice of a friend and try that hair remover creme stuff. To cut to the chase, I think I'm going to stick to a razor. For starters, they can flavor that stuff with all the melon/lavendar/perfume that they want, it freaking stinks. It reminds me of when I was little and was stuck hanging around while my mom got her hair permed. Secondly, maybe it's just my skin, but it stung like a mofo. Lastly, I still had spots I have to shave so it was only partially worthwhile.

Dropped the bike off Friday because the rear shifting had just gone sloppy on me. Got the call today that while they were working on it they found that my carbon seatpost had a crack in it... dammit. I've got the steel frame waiting in the wings for next season so I decided to go with a trick Thompson aluminum post instead of another carbon. Cheapest carbon worth buying was still $30 more. Who knows... the bike may ride like crap now, but let's see. 4 days to try it out and get used to it.

Back to 24 (the one show I actually sit and watch)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday blowoff

The combination of one of the first legitimately nice days in a long time and school vacation has made this place just a comedy of absence today. I think the first 3 people I looked for on an important issue were all out for the day so then I just gave up. Oh well, maybe that means I won't get yelled at today.

Unfortunately the warmth did take it's sweet old time settling in today. I had all my clothes for the ride laid out last night and then after opening the door to let the dog out I grabbed an extra layer. It was 28 at the house this morning and it felt at least that cold until I got the blood flowing. Going to be a weird ride home... I came in with winter booties, 2 pairs of gloves, leg warmers, and a winter hat and I'll probably ride home in shorts and short sleeves. Another bonus is that unless it shifts, I've got sort of a cross-tail wind which should be a nice break from the dead on headwind I had last week.

No race plans this weekend despite the opportunities. The motorcycle will officially change ownership tomorrow so I have to wrap that up and then Sunday we've got some plans. On top of it, I've got 3 races in 4 weeks starting with Sturbridge so I'm trying to not burn all my points at once. Should be able to get some miles in in any case so hopefully I get to enjoy the sun.

Not sure if I mentioned it before, but the garage got a little more full this week... through a long chain of events, I picked up a sweet Guerciotti steel racing frame for cheap. It will replace the current race rig for next season so in the meantime I get to just drool on it and scope out a few parts on ebay. I had considered just selling the current bike as a whole bike and then getting all new for this one, but I don't think I can make enough to offset the cost of a new gruppo, etc. Might have to just transfer as much as possible and then sell off what's left for cheap. We'll see how many pennies I can save and then decide. Besides, I've got a cross bike to build this summer so I get to play with new parts there :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Playing catch up

Need to catch up on everything... updates here, work, sleep, training, etc. Let's see... weekend recap first:

Saturday, kid's stuff, yard work, got to play 9 holes of golf (earliest I have ever been on a course), then not much Sat night.

Sunday, found out that sometimes it pays to procrastinate... I had planned to be out on the roads at 6:30 for an attack/interval workout to beat the weather and not conflict with my wife's plans. Lounged around in bed and by the time I got ready it was around 7. Literally just as I'm about to put my shoes on I see the wet dots forming on the front walk. I was already dressed so I stripped off the warm stuff and set up in the garage. Turned up some loud angry music way too loud and off I went. Great workout... probably the best I've felt in a while. Later in the day tried to change the oil on the m'cycle before I get it sold and found out that the drain plug is impossible to get to without a lift. I don't have one so I need to borrow one or bring it to a shop. We'll see, but that bike should be gone soon which will provide cash for the cross bike.

Yesterday I pulled on the full rain gear and went out to cheer on the crazies at the marathon. It is amazingly hard to pick your friends out of a moving crowd that big and of the 20 or so people I knew running, I somehow missed every one of them. Weather ended up being less of a factor than expected, but still a factor so huge props to everyone who finished. Some people I know even got PR's so it couldn't have been all bad.

Next 2 days I'm in class at work so it's a little bit of a mental blowoff. I'll make sure that things aren't imploding during breaks, but that's about it. Unless we get shut out by the crowds tonight, my wife and I are going to catch the advanced showing of The Flying Scotsman which is coming out in May. Should be fun.

So a little tangent here because I was thinking about it over the weekend... I'm curious to find out if I'm just simply not cut out for this cycling thing or if maybe, the elitist nature of the sport extends into how many hours you spent training. There does seem to be an air of "I trained more hours than you and my bike is shinier" about this sport which is obviously not completely connected to race results. I got on this because I was feeling pretty good about my 8.5 hours or so of saddle time last week and then I was clicking around through a maze of linked blogs and I find a guy (i think he's a 3) who was talking about a relatively easy week of 18.5 training hours. One thing I know for certain is that unless I start commuting the 57 round trip every day, I will probably never approach 20 hours of saddle time in a week. Part of me thinks back to my hard core running days when I was reasonably successful on 40-50 miles a week of training. I knew other guys who really were no more successful on 80 miles a week or more. Christ, I think my longest every marathon training week was under 70 and that was the year I ran 2:53 in terrible weather. So I wonder in the back of my head if I can pull this cycling thing off on being the focused-training-with-low-mileage-guy or if I'm going to get schooled. We shall see. I'm still REALLY looking forward to some mountain bike races this season (never did one before) because mentally the race will be easier for me. Pretty much the same as running... go faster than everyone else. I think it will forever drive me nuts that in road races, the fastest guy in a field has little guarantee that he will win.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I suppose it could be worse

Ways that dealing with the weather could be worse:

1) I could be racing BKR this weekend
2) I could be running Boston on Monday
3) It could be icy in the morning so either I couldn't ride or I crashed a lot

I was going to fire up the rant machine, but everyone knows the weather sucks so I'll spare you. My #1 hope is that all the 3's and 4's out there are trying to stay warm and dry and will be less ready than me for Sturbridge. I doubt it, but here's hoping.

Quiet weekend on tap and I'm taking Monday off. I firmly believe that the state should just shut down on Patriots day so everyone can enjoy the marathon and the Sox game. It's hit or miss around here and it turns out I missed at this place. Oh well, I have a vaca day I can use. Odds are very good that we won't bring the whole fam, but I'll probably head down to watch some true suffering. Good luck to everyone who's going to attempt it. I've run one in that kind of wind and rain, but it was at least 30 degrees warmer than they're saying.

What are the chances that the wind will die down or shift to a tail wind for the ride home? Probably way lower that I'd hope...

It might be sunny and break 50 tomorrow... go enjoy it before it snows again.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Just plain awful

What a contrast in rides today. This morning I got up and bundled up for the lovely 30 degree temps and headed out at little later than planned. Last time I rode in I was a mess in the morning and it was a slow ugly ride. Today I planned to head out at a nice steady clip, pick one gear and stick with it for a while since it's mainly flat the first 6 or so miles and actually warm up. Got into a nice groove and then continued to feel better and better. I didn't ride yesterday and ran instead, but I ran too hard so I figured I'd be toast this morning... not so. By the time I got to work, including getting stuck at two of the longest traffic lights on the route, I was 6 minutes faster than the ugly ride last week. I was curious to see how that would effect the ride home and unfortunately I got to find out.

The ride home can only be described as an exercise in suffering. It's good to learn how to suffer so that when you get there in a race you can say "Been there, done that" and you know that you're not really going to fall over dead on the spot. Now if practicing it just didn't suck so much. The trip was a brutal combination of dead legs from the morning, a dead on strong headwind, getting stuck at every light imaginable, and getting cut off and nearly taken out by idiots most of the way. The last several miles I was just preaching to myself that some day, in a race when it matters, I'm going to be better off for that ride. Let's just hope it's true.

Hard to get really excited that the Sox destroyed the Mariners, but it was opening day and they did put a beat down on them so I'll forget that they kinda stink :)

Oh, and by the way, I can't find it in my own archive, but I know that back when we were sunbathing and wanting to reopen the pools in December, I know I called it that by the end of the winter we'd all still be bitching that we wanted it to end. Well put me on the list of people proving me right... I should not be wearing wool socks and 3 layers to ride in mid-April. Enough already...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Anyone want a dog?

Ok, so I have one of the most disobedient dogs on the planet. I'll wholeheartedly admit that I'm a terrible doggy parent, but before all the dog people start on me, she's very well cared for, has more than she deserves for comfort, and I will admit that she misbehaves because I never trained her. In any case... years ago we fenced in the back yard so she could get some exercise and we could feel better about not walking her several times a day which she could probably use but we don't have time for. Before too long, she learned how to jump the fence. Now she's a little 20lb dog and it's a 42" fence so it's some decent determination for her to get out. My wife threw in the towel like 2 years ago and now will not let her out without a leash on, period. I have hung in there and I'll let her run around the back yard free, but I stand there and watch her the whole time. Well tonight I let her out when we get home and then I stop watching her for a second. She went around the one corner of the house where I can't see her, but figured she was doing her business. After a minute or so of her not appearing, I look around the corner and find that someone had left the gate open. What I had not mentioned yet was that my neighbors have about 15 grandchildren who are the most poorly behaved, poorly supervised (you think there's a connection) children on the planet. I know for a fact that they are constantly in our yard and this is not the first time they've left the gate open. To cut to the chase, the dog ran free for 3 hours before I finally was able to tackle her (we're talking full sprawl NFL open field tackle) when she came over to say hi to a dog that was being walked by her owner. She, as always, had rolled in some other dogs business so of course she had to go straight in the tub and I am not yet sure if I killed the smell. All these years I've said that I wouldn't get rid of her because I cared about her just enough that I didn't want her to end up with people who were mean to her. It's nights like this that make me figure she's tough and she'll do fine...

Friday, April 06, 2007


Random collection of thoughts from this week...

Things that are pissing me off:
1) People who cross sidewalks without looking. I almost took out a Harvard and an MIT student this week because they strolled across a busy sidewalk with their head up their ass and didn't check first. So much for those being the smart schools.
2) People who walk 4 wide across sidewalks that are regularly used by runners and bikers. C'mon people, let's share.
3) People who make decisions without considering the consequences. Also known as people who don't know what the hell they're talking about when they sign off on something.

Things that frustrate me:
Being outside the mass market average. Can't just go anywhere and buy pants. Can't go anywhere at all and buy a bike. Get this band of numbness about 4 inches above my ankle where the tights don't go down far enough and the shoe covers don't come up high enough. I understand how business works so I get it, but I still get screwed.

Things that made me jealous this week:
Pseudo-pro or not, KL got hooked up. Good for her... sort of makes me want to train harder.

Got a laugh out of:
This week's Todcast... 3 appearances from the Tufts crit footage for me including video evidence of me giving away 11th place. Oh, and the Chaz Michael Michaels comment was freaking hilarious.

Back to work...

Monday, April 02, 2007

Season Opener

Lot's to talk about today so this may get broken into multiple posts...

Kicked the season off yesterday with the Tufts Criterium which is a USCF race thrown in with the Beanpot collegiate weekend. Sick course... 1k loop, 6 90 degree corners, one is downhill at 25+ mph, short steep section into the start/finish road. Last year I did this race and it was my first real (non-Wells) crit ever. I got lapped twice and pulled. Field was way smaller this year, I think partially because of Marblehead. I got a spot right on the line which was great and then blew it by missing a pedal and not getting out quick. Proved to be fatal because a crash on turn 2 (the fast downhill) about 8 guys ahead of me on lap one split the field and that was that. Fortunately, we were able to get some groups together and eventually the race came down to 2 groups. Leaders were probably a minute up and then there was my group. I stupidly took the lead at the bell and got hung out there. Tried to make it happen the last time up the hill, but it didn't work and I got 7th in the group. Just finishing was major progress since it was a 3/4 race so I was pleased overall, but proved to myself how critical the start is in a tough crit. There were lots of good things that happened during the race though... felt real smooth tearing through corners, rode well in a groups, had a couple times that I had to chase a guy that I really needed to be behind and I did. All in all a good kickoff to the season. I think the key was shaving off the winter fur yesterday morning :)

Hmmm, other biking news... the MRC crew showed some force in the b's and c's at Wells yesterday and took 2 seconds. Lots of guys got a chance to try lots of stuff which is the whole point of that race so they were all happy. Also a guy I know won the masters at Marblehead and looks to have outsprinted Johnny Bold to do it... I'm officially impressed. I know he's pumped about it so kudos to him.

Ok... back to work... funny children stories later.