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.