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...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Now THAT'S RTB Training Kids

For those not familiar with RTB it's a 200+ mile relay that goes from the White Mountains down to Hampton Beach. You have a team of up to 12 people and one person is on the road at all times once you start. What it equates to is 24+ hours of exercise laden nonsense with your friends. Because the race runs in mid September, the weather is a crap shoot. Two of the 4 years I've done it, we were in the remnants of hurricanes, one so bad that the after race party was basically cancelled because Hampton Beach was under water. Another year we had showers and I got poured on. Last year there was a brief sprinkle just to remind me that it was RTB. With our recent weather, I haven't run in the rain in longer than I can remember... until today. I headed out at lunch for a nice little stay-loose run and when I went out it was cloudy and sprinkling... it was kinda nice. It wasn't too cold so I was having fun. Well progressively over the 28.5 minutes, the rain got worse to the point that when I finished it was almost a little hard to see. Now that I got that out of the way, I am officially prepared for the race.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The perfect way to start a Monday

Hey Rich,

I am heading out to pick up your frame and I think your headset should arrive today. If your headset arrives I can have the frame ready to pick up tonight. I will let you know after 1pm if the HS arrives.

Sincerely Mike-- Mike Flanigan
ANT 24 Water St.
Holliston, MA. 01746508-429-3350
"Home of the Boston Roadster"

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Holy S, I Locked My Son in His Pants

Funny story of the day from yesterday's back to school adventure...

I talked to my wife after the boys got out and I asked how they did. She said fine, except the middle one lost his belt. Lost his belt? Yup, he left it on the sink when he washed his hands and forgot it there. Huh? So then I start thinking... that's right, the poor kid has never worn a belt in his life before yesterday. It didn't occur to me when I was helping him get dressed that at some point during the day, he'd have to pee and suddenly realize "Holy crap, I'm locked in my pants." Evidently, he figured it out, but took the whole thing off in the process. The whole thing was actually a good lesson for the kindergarten teacher and she said maybe she'll start covering how to operate a belt with the boys during the first day or two :) Who'd have thought this would be a hazard of school uniforms.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Oooh look, updated sidebar --->

Did some updating last night in the about me section. I may occassionally have more people than my sister and in-laws reading here so I figured I'd throw some nuggets out there. Also planning some linkage updates to give proper call outs to the skyscraping freaks like myself. If all those little bastards are going to draft off us in every running or biking race we enter, then we need proper recognition :)

BTW, go check out the latest todcast. Ok, so maybe it's only funny to those who have met G and CTodd or ride bikes, but I was freaking rolling...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Just... dead... tired

Phew... I knew it would end up like this, but I'm just freaking tired from this weekend. Here's the short recap that my weakened brain can handle:

Friday - Got out a little early, went to hand therapy, got home early enough to get out for a ride. It was raining... I didn't care.

Saturday - Saturday a.m. my lovely wife let me sleep until I was good and ready to get up. It's been so long since I could just shut off all alarms and continue to roll over until I was just good and ready to get up. She took the oldest and youngest out on some errands and the middle one is actually quite good at being quiet. Funny thing is, I was up before 9 and that felt like an eternity. It was so nice to actually feel refreshed for a change when I got up. After that we did a couple things and then I got out riding. Unfortunately, I've had a chest cold since late last week and every time I pushed even a little bit it felt like my throat closed up. I cut the ride shorter than planned, but I still got out.

After lunch my wife headed up to Pepperell to solidify her title as SuperMom... that's right folks, a little skydiving action. She had wanted to go since she sent me three years ago and she finally arranged it. I took the boys to buy their soccer gear and then we headed up to watch. A great time was had by all and she made it up to and back from 14,000 feet in one piece.

Sunday - I met the tri crew at 6:30 for what was advertised as a 12 mile run at 8 minute pace. None of us believed it for a second and we were right. Ended up being something like 7:15's, but it was mostly comfortable. The breathing still sucked, but I made it through. After that I did some errands, went to the driving range with the older 2, and generally didn't do anything big. It was sort of relaxing, but I was still beat when I got to bed at 10:30.

Today - I have some friends who run North American distribution for Inov-8 which is a kick-ass European trail running shoe company. They were moving their warehouse and just needed bodies so I volunteered. So as not to miss out an on opportunity to ride I headed out for the 15 miles down to the old place this morning with a backpack full of work clothes. Worked from 8:30 to about 2:30 building shelves, moving pallets of merch around, stocking now built shelves, and generally whatever they needed. Then I hopped back on the bike for the 12.5 miles home from the new place. Long day of full body work today so I'm now completely spent. I'm sure the beer and Irish coffee for dinner didn't help, but let's call it the exercise :) Irish coffee is strange... I've always called it a wash and figured that the whiskey overrides the caffeine so you end up back where you started in terms of altertness :) At least I can tell myself that...

Gotta get some kids in bed...

Oh, final note... some photo evidence of me pretending to be a miler back in July. Two sidebars to this picture: 1) You can see the right leg fresh skin from the Wells crash, and 2) This is the day before I broke my hand.