Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Here's To a Great '09

Happy new year guys and gals. Genuinely wishing you the very best in '09 and beyond. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Somehow less scheduled activity is resulting in less free time. Been trying to enjoy the holidays, reset the brain and body a little, and catch up with the parts of my life that get ignored during school/racing/etc. Rib thing is feeling better, but still reminds me not to be stupid. Rode both days this weekend after 2 weeks of nothing. At work most of this week, but fortunately it will be dead. Maybe I can piece together the year in review if I find the motivation to dig up that old post on goals. Frighteningly, I think I hit most of them. It can only be downhill from here.

And Xmas was fantastic... the boys claimed it was the best ever, family drama was at a minimum, and much fun was had by all. Hope your near the end of December holiday-ish celebration was great too.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Good thing the season is over

After the Ice Weasels race, I noticed that the left side of my ribcage felt like I had pulled a muscle or something. I figured that some combination of hurriedly throwing furniture around and something I did while racing was the culprit... no big deal... sucks to get old. Well that was 9 days ago. Most of last week the pain was sort of back and forth and I noticed after a couple days that there was one very specific spot, about the size of my finger-tip, that was very very tender to the touch. I started thinking "Huh, I bet this is what it would fee like if I broke a rib." Not remembering any sort of impact that would break a rib, I wrote it off. After a weekend of snow removal said rib was particularly angry with me so last night I had to make the promise to the wife that I'd call a doctor today. Doctor's recommendation basically came down to go get an x-ray because we're going to want one anyways. Out of work early and off to the ER I go where I enjoyed about a 100-minute turnaround for 3 chest x-rays and a diagnosis. Sadly, that was pretty quick. The diagnosis: If it hurts, don't do it. There was nothing on the film that indicated a healing break of any kind so the theory is that I severely aggravated the cartilage between my ribs. I was told to basically just take it easy for a bit to let things calm down. I follow up with the doc in the a.m., but I'm not expecting any sort of different story. Of course I then came home and used the snow rake to clear off the bottom few feet of the roof. Fortunately 12 fl. oz. in a glass bottle don't seem to be heavy enough to bother it...

Update: Likely diagnosis is an intercostal muscle tear. Treatment: don't do anything stupid for about 4 weeks. Probability of me following treatment plan: Low.

Friday, December 19, 2008

NTEP, the finale

Finally huh?

When we last left our hero, he was standing in the driveway in a combination of horror and disbelief about destroying his road bike. What to do... what to do? Well it turns out this story has a silver lining. About 3 weeks prior to said incident I had become officially fed up with the poor fit of my road bike and the fact that there was effectively nothing more that could be done. Even with the custom fork, there was just something about the overall setup that wasn't right and I had been getting very uncomfortable on anything more than an hour. Well I had been sitting on part of a bonus from work and my wife graciously agreed to let me go for broke and order... wait for it... my Seven that I had always wanted. So once I was able to speak again, I made a call to the shop and told them what happened. Then I asked if anything could be done to expedite the build. I got a call back that I'd have my new steed within 3 days. So lady and gentleman, meet my silver lining:

A picture taken in my poorly lit garage really doesn't do it justice. Some sunny day I have to do a proper photo shoot.

See... good thing I split that post up... it only took me like 3 months to finish it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

And you think I'm an unusually large Person

I just had to buy my not-even 8 year old son MEN'S size 7 shoes. This poor child is either going to be rich and famous from crushing other large men on a turf field or pointed at and mocked like his old man...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Apparently ground water intrusion of any type is not covered by insurance, or at least mine. Forget the fact that we've gone to great personal expense to prevent damage to the house and that I've gone to great lengths to minimize the size of any claim I'd be filing from this incident. I knew they'd find a way to weasle out of this... pictures to follow on my other blog (link forthcoming with the pictures).

Oh, and I hand in my final today... One. Semester. Left.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I almost didn't goeth

Rewind back to Friday early morning... About 4 a.m. when my brain was starting to spark to life my wife pointed out that she thought the power had just gone out. Once it registered, I looked at the clock and saw that it was on so I thought she was crazy or it was just a blip. About 30 minutes later I was more conscious and noticed when the power really did go out. Probably 5 minutes after that the overflow alarm on my sump pump started to go off and thus started the mad scramble to save anything we could. Despite being in line at Home Depot when they opened the doors at 6 to buy a generator (fortunately the next town didn't lose power until a couple hours later), we still ended up with about 4" of water in some parts of the basement. Saturday morning as I was tearing out more sections of the floor that was destroyed, I contemplated whether I should just bail and attend to that, but was then given the green light by my wife since it was the last race of the season and it would be a good stress relief (have I mentioned she rocks?)

Now just because I had the go-ahead, didn't mean I was prepared. I think I was half packed, it was already 11:15, the race was at 2, and I hadn't eaten lunch. I had to take the gamble and go with 2 junior bacon cheeseburgers from Wendy's while driving as pre-race food. Fortunately there was no second coming of the burgers so that part worked out ok I guess. Got to Wretham about 12:40 which left me barely enough time to get myself organized. With the small race and parking right there it was no problem to get to reg and see a couple of the noon racers going by at the end of their festivities. Just then Coley says "Ooh, they're done, I can get a lap in" so I'm thinking "Oh yah, I should probably check out the course, but I have about 10 minutes to do that". Run back to the car and throw on the bare essentials... shoes and helmet and even the shoes were debated. So my course preview was in jeans and a work jacket... oh well, I was warm. Someone had warned me the course "would make you learn how to turn your bike" and they were certainly right. Note to self, set your expectations low when the course is designed by 2 nearly pro mountain bikers and they have very little space to work with. All the twists and turns were pretty fun and I was actually more worried about the drop of death on the backside of the course. If it had been smooth it would have been a no-brakes thrill ride, but it was riddled with potholes so it was instead an attempt to not injure myself.

With the course checked out I got suited up quickly and then hit the oh-so-pro warmup area in the barn. Let me tell you, pro treatment when you're lining up for your first big kids race is... well... pro. The lineup was uneventful except that Colin was still standing casually in front of the field shooting the shit with the officials when Chris yelled "15 seconds"... dude puts on a race and he thinks he can do what he wants ;) Whistle blows and I am VERY quickly reminded that I need some big adjustments to my starting mentality when racing fast people. Everyone was off like a shot and by about 2 minutes into the race I realized that me, GD, and lil Stevie are bringing up the rear of the field convincingly. Well I'd like to tell you that I got my act together and went blazing through the field from there, but you'd know I was lying. Some high/lowlights from the rest of the race:

- Passing a guy going into the super narrow 180 and then crashing hard while doing a 3-point turn on my giant bike and making him and GD stand there while I insulted myself

- Thinking I was taking a Bud Light handup only to discover it was a malt liquor handup. I think it's good that I then hit a pothole and spilled half of it.

- Getting a free Colt 45 fueled Nega-Coach session in the middle of the race. After screaming a bunch of stuff about being fast and power and all kinds of other nonsense he eloquently summed it up by screaming "DON'T SUCK!" Amen brother.

- Realizing that I was gaining on Coley and CCC only to have them mock me to try and catch them and later find out that they had "shut it down" and realized they should pick it up when I started getting close

- Being mocked by a tri guy for my bike handling skills

- Not getting lapped despite deserving it with the way I rode

Overall it was a killer race and I was definitely sore and tired Saturday night. I didn't feel great during the race, but it's unclear if that's because I sucked or if the race was just that fast and the speed was killing me. All the twisties were definitely not made for me, but I held my own on the 2 long straights and barrier sections. There's definitely improvements to be made, but whether it's the 3-4 minutes worth of improvements I'd need to actually compete in that field remains to be seen. Sounds like a goal for another season...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What do we do next weekend?

Yes kids, I think the withdrawal has begun already. I'm pretty beat from the past couple days and I'll give the long story on all that tomorrow. For now I just have to give it up to Results Boy and Thom for putting on a hell of a race today. There's got to be some sort of award for making the most out of very little space and these guys would win it. Seriously, I think they packed about 3-4 minutes of a 7 minute-ish course into a space about 150' x 150'. Although I will request that next year they use my bike to gauge the width of some of those 180's ;)

So for now I'll leave you with this Mr (and Ms) Cyclocross Racer... to a season well done:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bad day for tires

I finally got 2 seconds to capture my blowout from Sunday:

As an added bonus, while trying to frankenbike some shizz together for Saturday I discovered this little gem:

Fortunately I never liked these tires much anyways. I suppose that's one way to clean out the garage...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sunday Suckfest

The silver lining of shitty races is that the reports can be short... 5th row lineup, mediocre start, 2 guys come together and almost eat it in front of me, took the wrong side on the first run and literally came to a standstill, spontaneous flat on lap 2 about 30 seconds past the pit, just try not to get lapped. Rode the flat slowly and carefully just since it hurt less than running that far, but there wasn't much to accomplish by that point. Only highlight was plucking a dollar off the barriers although I did miss the brownie handups. 1 race to go... guess it will be on clinchers. I'm not scrambling around this week to buy and glue a tire. If I were headed to KS then I'd be freaking out, but the likelihood of in-race shenanigans Saturday is very high so why bother.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Dear God, What Have I Done?

Dear Colin,

Please make the lap long... really really long. I'd like to get to race 30 minutes or so before Diane just laughs and pulls me.

Giant Frame Guy

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

OK blogosphere, prove that you're cool

Manny Goguen from MRC has been invited to participate in the Euro Cross camp. Yah... that one. That whole go live in Belgium with super fast guys and race super fast guys thing. Problem is, Manny only has one bike and was told to bring two. Manny needs a decent loaner 50cm cross bike to bring with him. Obviously I can't give him mine or I would have driven it down to him tonight. Help a brother out? I can put you in touch with him and his dad if you can...

A few days late

I should have linked this last week. Just one of many things I have to be thankful for. And yes, the looks and charm get him out of a lot of trouble he causes.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The fun continues

This will be quick because something tells me I should be working... maybe it's all the people working around me, but I'm not sure. Sunday was another fantastic day of racing at Palmer. Lined up with 25 or so in the 35+ race, dutifully watched Dan Coady and Curtis Boivin ride away off the line, battled it out with a small group, didn't suck on the mountain bike sections, took advantage of the 3 runups (woo hoo), and came home 10th. I added to Saturday's tally of beating people I've never beaten by coming in ahead of several more fast guys. At this point I won't be at all surprised if this week 1) I get insanely sick, 2) my frame snaps, or 3) I show up Sunday and suck badly. Let's see if I can keep it rolling for another couple weeks...

Saturday, November 29, 2008


What is Crossomeness you ask? Well I'll start out by telling you what crossomeness is not: It is not the crash that happened at the start of the 55+ race which sent David Rath and another guy on an ambulance ride. It looked bad there for a minute, but later reports were that they were "better". Of course better is relative to being out cold in the mud. Heal up quick guys.

While we're at it, crossomeness is also not the general vibe I was getting from the 2 guys I battled with late in the race. I'll leave names out of it, but I had the one guy yelling and complaining every time he didn't like my line and the other guy getting me up close and personal with the course stakes the few times I tried to come around. Ah well, it's all good especially since it was a feat to even have the privelage to battle those guys.

So now what crossomeness is:

1. It's the Sterling course. I love that place. I had one of my better finishes there last year. Funny to look back and think that 11th in the 4's was an accomplishment. Oh how far one can get with a few 4:30 a.m. workouts. And BTW, I'm petitioning the UCI to make it mandatory that there's a big nasty runup in every course. Can you fellas hook me up with that? Thanks.

2. It's 2 MRC guys on the podium in the B Masters (not that anyone cares) :). It's also the mike time that MRC was getting from Richard thanks to some real solid riding all around.

3. It's getting hardware and cash:
4. It's Big-Ass cupcakes. Man was I bummed that I had like a nickel and some lint in my pocket so I couldn't get one or three.

5. It's finishing a race, coated in mud, and having your kids ask "What happened to you?". More importantly it's them being there in the first place to yell "GO DADDY!"

6. It's coming oh so very close to beating one of the NE cross legends. More than once during the race I caught myself thinking "Holy crap, I don't think I've ever been this close to that silly wheel during a cross race". Next time...

7. It's getting my hack-mechanic's license back. After a near full drive-train replacement this week and some other tinkering, it held up great. Apparently those 2 extra teeth did matter too.

Couldn't hang around real long to enjoy the rest of the crossomeness, but I can only hope it continued for the kids, ladies, and uber fast guys and gals (speaking of that there's some crossomeness going on with MBR's new bike... that thing is SICK!)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Love your drivetrain, it will love you back

It's been a week huh? Maybe that means my life has turned uninteresting... maybe I'm just being lazy. I successfully ate myself into a food coma yesterday, but at least I got out for 2 hours in the morning so I could pre-burn some of those calories.

So back to the subject... my cross bike has been a little unhappy lately as several parts of it are in need of a total teardown, cleaning, and possible replacement. I've been keeping it going as best I can, but it needs some major love. After Lowell I was scrubbing all the mud off and noticed that the rear derailleur pulleys didn't look quite right. As it turns out, running mud, ice, and other CX debris through them for 2 seasons is bad. You guess which are the old ones and which are new:

I also took the occasion to swap out the chainring for the 44T which I picked up after the Gloucester debacle. It doesn't seem like the extra 2 teeth will kill me, but you may not want to be behind me the first time I try to muscle up a steep pitch. You may however want to get on my wheel on the flats as I will now be able to put out like 2 more watts which will make all the difference between 19th and 20th place...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday is the new Hump Day

The strangest thing has been happening the past few weeks. Actually maybe it's not strange at all and kinda makes sense, but it's a trend nonetheless. Thursday is my least busy day of the week in terms of commitments. With class on Wednesday I almost never have to be thinking about the next week's work yet, I have nowhere to be after work, wife's soccer games are usually after the kids are in bed, and I typically have no late meetings at work. Sounds like it's screaming "great day to ride" huh? Well as it turns out, Thursday has turned into my most mentally challenging day to ride. I think I'm putting so much physical and mental energy into surviving the Sunday through Wednesday stretch that I hit Thursday and I'm just like "You know, I just don't feel like it". On Friday I'm better again because it's time to start thinking race prep, but Thursday it's just a struggle. Good news is that a tired and cranky 7 p.m. interval session on Thursday should be easily (and probably better) replaced by a rested 5 a.m. interval session on Friday. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

No racing this weekend. Mentally checked out of this weekend so I could be sure to get permissions slips for Sterling, maybe Palmer, and the double at RI. Unfortunately the church/school had other plans for my Saturday of RI weekend, so maybe it becomes Sterling, Palmer, Sunday at RI, and then Ice Weasels. In either case, it sits better after being home this weekend.

Monday, November 17, 2008

There's a Lot to Like About Lowell

Please tell me everyone remembers that annoying little radio jingle...

Anywho... just a quick race report preceded by today's PSA: If anyone in the freak crew had some money burning a hole in their pocket, check it. It's been revived and rebuilt from our little incident.

Let's go with the good/bad method of race reporting:

Good: Second row lineup
Bad: With the A-Masters

Good: Getting off the line well
Bad: Those guys are fast

Good: Riding both of the steep uphills (all 6 laps for the long one, 4 of 6 on the shorter one)
Bad: Riding both of the steep uphills

Good: Cleaning the mud bog twice
Bad: Can't find a bad with the mod bog... I'm a big fan of deep sloppy mud.

Good: Going up 2 to 1 in the newly developed battle with CTodd
Bad: Giving him a display of my severely inferior bike handling skills laps 1 and 2

Good: Holding off the 45+ winner at the line (those guys are typically more than 2 minutes faster than me)
Bad: Having to hold them off with my chain skipping every 4th pedal stroke (should have gone for the bike change)

Good: Getting closer to catching Coley
Bad: Having Coley be in the self-described "worst shape in a long time" and still not being able to catch him

OK, gotta get back to work. Hoping to get the final chapter of the psuedo Epic up this week.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

All is well in the world

Today's Plymouth South race proved that all is normal in the world... GCD is still fast, gravity still works, loose dirt is still slippery, and cross is still fun. About 40 lined up for the start of the 3/4's in the rare 20 wide format. It was actually a little concerning, but fortunately everyone handled it well... hell, even the 4's made the first corner without killing each other. I got off the line moderately well as did Gary and JimmE was out like a rocket. By a short way into lap one it was the lead 20 or so and then everyone else... trust me, I was the tail of that train and I looked back and there was a gap. The course was all kinds of good fun with a combo of fast packed dirt, wide open spongey athletic fields, and really tricky technical stuff. The best/worst part of the technical stuff was the 5 or 6 short punchey uphills that really made you hurt as the race went on. 2 were long-ish and the rest were just enough to kick you in the nuts. The kicker on some of the short ones were that if you didn't set them up right you were (annoyingly) running. Lap one was hot and I was working hard to stay on. Going into lap 2 things were sorting themselves out and I was trying to stay with/near Gary. First Gary went by Jim into the first ballfield and then I went around in a deperate attempt to 1) pull him, and 2) catch Gary. There would be none of it as I just watched him ride away (the dude can put out some WAAAAAAATTTTSSSSS). I eventually fell into a pack of anywhere from 3 to 5 and we proceeded to take turns mangling technical sections of the course and fouling up the whole group. My lowlight was nearly pulling a Reuter on the downhill with the stairs, but skidding to a stop just shy of the tree. Long story short after a number of bad words and lots of pain and drooling, I rolled home 11th. An acceptable day I guess, although I was AGAIN odd man out of 3 as 2 ahead of me sprinted it out for 9 & 10 and I just spectated. Super fun race regardless and next weekend we get to follow up with another uber-fun one. See you there...

Friday, November 07, 2008

I accept your challenge Results Boy

If you've actually read the side-bar, I'm an engineer and rarely just accept anything. So when Colin implied that my recent assertions needed data to back them up, well... I just heard "I dare ya". So here you go:

The task: Analyze the results 3/4 Masters 35+/45+ and 55+ races at Gloucester and Northampton Day 2. These are the two races I had direct experience with and had been referenced in my comments.

The assumptions (some of these may seem invalid, but maybe they'll make sense later or from my descriptions):
1) The start gap between the two fields was exactly 1 min
2) All riders in all fields rode even splits for the entire race.
- While this is clearly not true, it was the only way I could perform any actual analysis
without direct knowledge of what actually happened which I didn't have
3) All lapped riders were lapped because they were very slow and not because they started great and then had a mechanical, bio or otherwise
4) Once a pass had been made, there was no pass back
5) I defined a "lead pack" for both races that was a set size for the entire event.
- This is also clearly not true and there are many in the "go and blow" camp who fade later.
Again, in order to be able to show any results based on what I knew, I needed a cutoff point.
- For the 3/4 35+/45+ field I defined the lead pack as 15. Why? Because it seemed like a
good number and I think I had said something like "the top 10-15 were catching almost
- For the 55+ field I defined the lead pack as 4. Why? Because there was a distinct dropoff
in both races from 4th to 5th place.
6) If the start order of the fields were reversed, each race would have played out the same as it actually did
7) I defined two "congested periods" in the race:
- The first two laps because riders tend to be closer together and people are being possibly
a bit more aggressive
- The final lap when small groups could be battling for finish place.

The method:
Pretty simple... I just merged the two sets of results, normalized by the start gap, and sorted to see when people crossed the finish line. Then used the assumptions above to come up with some "statistics"

The data:
The two events actually turned out to be quite different, partially due to size of the fields.

Gloucester, the way it happened:
- There were 10 55+ riders passed by the 3/4 lead pack in the first two laps
- 8 of those 10 riders were passed by the lead pack in the first lap
- Another 2 riders were passed by the lead pack in the final lap
- Note the top 55+ rider crossed the line 4th

Gloucester, if they had reversed the fields:
- The lead pack of 55's would have passed 33 riders in the 3/4 field in the first two laps
- 7 of those riders would have been passed by the lead pack in the first lap
- 5 more riders would have been passed by the lead pack on the final lap
- Note the top 55+ rider would have crossed the line 21st

NoHo, the way it happened:
- 16 55+ riders were passed by the 3/4 lead pack in the first two laps
- 9 of those riders were passed by the lead pack in the first lap
- 1 more appears to have been passed by the back of the lead pack at the finish
- Note, the top 2 55+ riders were never caught

NoHo, if they had reversed the fields:
- The lead pack of 55's would have passed 15 riders in the 3/4 field in the first two laps
- All 15 would have been passed on the first lap
- 2 more riders would have been passed on the final lap
- Note the top 55+ rider would have come across the line 16th

None... draw your own. The last time I made conclusions I ignited a holy war ;)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Mechanic I am not

Good news: I will now never forget that the drive-side of an italian-threaded bottom bracket is threaded like every other normal threaded thing in the world and is removed by turning it left (lefty loosey kids)

Bad news: This learning experience cost me a bottom bracket (which I probably never would have used again anyways, but probably could have sold at the flea market for 5 bucks)

Ignorance annoys me more than most other qualities in people... I really hate demonstrating my own...

Add on: This would have been the perfect post for a link to the bottom bracket removal TodCast. If anyone's feeling ambitious enough to dig it out of the archives, we can all get a good chuckle

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


What to do when you ignite one of the biggest debates ever on your blog... well fuel the fire of course. Actually, maybe this will put what I'm really getting at to bed...

Imagine they decided to start the U19's in front of the A Masters... I mean hell, the kids are battling for world team spots and the masters can't even get an upgrade out of it so they're more important right? Sure, given a minute head start MAYBE Luke, Gavin, and some Belgian kid who happens to be in town stay away, but at some point in the race, Manny, the Henry's Bikes kid, and little Keough are going to get swarmed by the pain train of Johnny, Mark, Roger, Kevin, etc. Manny and co are trying to battle back for the last bit of cash and a podium spot so they're not exactly going to pull over into the tape, but Johnny just attacked and the others got blocked. In the meantime, little Goguens and Keoughs are chopping G and Solo in the corners as they try to come around (the nerve of these kids)...

That's all I'm saying... it's a situation that doesn't make sense for all involved and must have a better option.

Monday, November 03, 2008

NoHo Report

Family commitments meant I could only make it to day 2 of the fun that is NoHo. To skip the same old pre-race story, lets cut to the chase... the day 2 course was wicked damn fun, but I found it to be surprisingly technical in race situations. I even said to CTodd one of the dozen times I passed him (more on that later) that the course was surprisingly hard to pass on. One thing that certainly didn't help is this wonderful start concept the Verge folks seem to have in their heads as a good idea... start the 55+ race ahead of the 35+ 3/4 race. With all due respect to the elder statesmen of the sport and the tremendous effort the Verge crew puts out, THAT START FORMAT DOES NOT WORK! They tried it at Gloucester and we damn near killed a couple back of the packers when we got to the runup the first time. I think it was a half a lap yesterday before I started catching guys. Even right through the end of the race, the top 10-15 B Masters are passing the lead elders. It just creates undue traffic and I'm still failing to see the benefit. Oh wait... this was a race report...

I lined up third row out of 10 or 11 and noticed that T-Needham had the primo front row spot. The Professor was row two and CTodd was lurking around somewhere as was Cookie. Now the good and bad thing about NoHo is that you can't really go balls deep at the start or you risk giving you or your neighbor a rude intro to a giant steel gate. So off we go and about 5 seconds in someone mid to back of the lineup decides to make everyone's day a little more interesting by causing a pileup before they even hit the start line. In the meantime I'm off somewhere in the top 30 or so. Right from the get go, the battles are on. Cookie and CTodd were all in the neighborhood and so were some fast starters who were trying to hang on. The worst part about the tight racing was that the very rideable sand pit and ride-down-turned-ride-up became enormous cluster phucks. Fast forward to lap 3... the 55's have been passed or are just one at a time. Cookie is gone from my group, but close. JimmE has moved up from his DFL lineup and is within site on the double-back sections. And me and CTodd have found ourselves in a battle. Looking back it was really the most comical thing... we spent the better part of 30 minutes taking turns pulling each other, trying to drop each other, exchanging words of encouragement, and heckling each other. I think being able to try and drop a guy, but offering that he jump on your wheel all at the same time is some of the beauty of cross. Final lap now... I know we're in the top 20ish and we've had various guys with us off and on and now we can see the next big group right in front of us including Mr. Needham. Into the litter box and we both ride it while Needham and another guy run. I was sure TN was gone, but he jumped on quickly and then he and CTodd were in front of me. Unfortunately we were now headed to the upper deck where opportunities to pass almost don't exist so it was just setting it up for the sprint. We turned for home and the (now) 3 in front had gapped me and right at the entrance to the stretch an NEBC guy came around. I wound it up a bit late and found myself essentially odd man out in my group. I've definitely decided I'm not a sprinter so I'm going to have to both work on that and work on getting to situations where I don't need it.

So the tally was 14th overall, just over a minute down to the winner and around 45 sec down to GCD. Gary was an easy 2 minutes up on me last year so it's progress. At first I was a bit down because I know I have beaten or can beat at least 6 of the guys in front of me. In a race that close though on that course and with the fun I had, I'm not going to worry about it. The upgrade has come through so the battles are only going to get more fierce... better get used to it.

Friday, October 31, 2008


As we continue our series about my comical life, we find ourselves at a fine weekend in September where me and the wife actually got to go away as adults and be in the company of other adults for 2.5 days in Newport. Yes, we love our children, but if you have kids, you get it. Hell, if you've ever been to a store and seen one of the little monkeys throwing a tantrum about a 49 cent pencil you get it... anyways... I digress. So being in the throes of this fancy training plan and planning to have lots of free time I bring both running shoes and my bike. Saturday I get out for a very nice run that got capped off with some sprints up a nasty grass hill (think NoHo runup, but in good condition on grass). Sunday I had it planned that I'd head out for 3 hours in the greater Newport area. I got a tip from the local shop that the best bet was to troll the farmlands over in Tiverton so I bummed a ride over and got in a very very nice loop over there. Everything's good right? So far, right. Monday morning we drag out of bed and pack up to head home. We had to give the minivan to the weekend nanny so we're in the Civic with the bike on the roof. We drive home, yada yada, nothing exciting. We stopped off near home to get some food then finally get to our road. I pull in the driveway and as I get about half way up the driveway, there's just noise and chaos that shouldn't be happening when driving in your driveway. "WTF" I say, to which my wife replies "Oh my God... your bike". By this point I was at a dead stop and I look out the passenger side to see what looks like the corner of the basketball backboard out through the corner of the windshield. It then registered and I was horrified to get out of the car. Turns out that I was in a haze when I drove in and forgot the basketball hoop was lowered down for the boys. I drove right under it, hooked the right brake hood on the net, and... well use your imagination from there. The only saving grace was that I think I stopped at EXACTLY the critical moment before the weakest link broke, but the bad news was that the weakest link was stronger than the amount of force it takes to twist the legs and dropouts of a steel fork around. I just stood there in the driveway dumfounded and didn't know whether to laugh or cry... I think I did a little of both...

And yes, the story continues...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I had to open my big mouth

All this talk about the training and what happens... it goes to hell. It's a good thing last week and the weekend went well because this week is turning out to be a joke. Dammit. That's all... just dammit.

Monday, October 27, 2008


First off, photo credit for that last set goes exclusively to Rob... nice work dude. Now...

As a continuation of our series, let's explore a possible reason for recent success... You know how all these coaches are these days... they're all about their science and their fancy training methods. It's amazing how easily they brainwash you and how easily we cyclists give in to shiny stuff. Well, I am sad to say (ok, not real sad) that I in fact washed down the red pill by drinking the Koolaid and I bought myself a PowerTap. Some people are probably going to be sorely disappointed in me, but tis true. Fortunately, the greatest LBS on the planet hooked me up big time and lessened the impact on the wallet as much as possible. And hey, call me a sellout, but I think it's working.

Let's see... fancy testing, a coach, a little yellow buddy... what the hell else could be going on (I think the media industry calls that a tease... here in tall freak blogger land, we call that a 3 year old who needs the oreo crumbs washed off his face)...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

How to win a cross race, a story in pictures

Get front row lineup and put on your game face

Take the hole shot

Fall into a group and catch breath from fast start

Put on ugly pain face and drop the hammer

Slow down to make teammate ride another lap

Salute the crowd

So long Cat 4... you've been good to me, but it's time to move on.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Coach would not be pleased

Wednesdays just straight up suck. My typical Wednesday is an 18 hour day and somehow it is extremely difficult to find a time to work out in those 18 hours without some serious level of scheduling gymnastics. Short of sitting in meetings or class in sweaty clothes or somehow doing dismount practice in the car (hell, I'm in sitting in traffic, I might as well do something) it's very difficult to work something in. Very very very annoying. Speaking of annoying, more reading to cram in before class...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Not the Epic Post, Part II

So what does one do once they've quantified their fitness and aspire to be better? Well you could keep doing more of the same, but I believe that phrase quickly leads to the definition of insanity. Or, you can take the red pill and retain the services of the coach who tested you. So yes, since around Great Glenn I've been slave to the training plans of my coach. Ha ha... that'd be pretty funny. For real though, this guy is a damn fine cycling coach. I've always said that my cycling training to date consisted of riding my bike whenever I could and sometimes riding it faster than usual so I figured a little know-how and structure would be good for me. Seems to be helping a bit so far, that is if I could stop having stupid mechanical issues that are my own fault. It's actually a really solid plan that'd probably be more effective if I didn't have to keep missing stuff due to grad school/youth football/work/life and taking the realistic view of things, I'm definitely getting out what I'm putting in.

So what else could be going on other than this coaching thing? Stay tuned...

Saturday, October 18, 2008


A series of other commitments have me not participating in some of the better cross races of the season this weekend so what is one to do to fill the time and avoid sitting on the couch with a bag of chips (I'm quite partial to cheddar and sour cream)? Well one reverts to their other favorite sport - cross country running. Really it's the same as cyclocross, just without a crank arm banging into your back while you run. Today was my alumni XC race. It was so nice to see a huge crowd there even if most of my teammates from way back when bailed. We did have a guest appearance from one of the ladies from around my year who I believe (and don't call out the fact police on me for this) may hold the US record for fastest debut marathon by a woman (2:32). It was fun despite no running training. I still pulled off a 17:39 for 3.05 miles (I'm sure a 100% accurately measured distance). That's roughly 5:47's. It's too bad running hurts so much when you do it every day... turns out I'm still not too bad at it and it's still fun.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Not the Epic Post, Part I

I've given up all hope of sitting down and creating the epic post that has been mentioned (well at least any time before Xmas). Therefore I've decided to break this down into a number of segments to make it manageable. You see I've been hauling around a bag of cats and it's time to let them out... Let's start at the beginning.

I made a passing mention to this way back when, but my lovely wife gave me one of the best anniversary gifts ever back in July. You got it, I got a VO2 Max and Lactate Threshold test :) Having never done this before I had no idea what to expect. My training to date had been a few steps above mediocre so I was pretty sure there wouldn't be an EMT team standing by, but I knew Guinness (the record people, not the beer) wouldn't be there either. To be honest, the whole experience was kinda cool in a I want to throw up in this mask sort of way. One of my sick friends had actually planned to come watch because he has some bizarre fascination with watching people push their bodies to total muscle failure. Fortunately he missed the fun.

So what'd I learn? Well I was labeled as follows:
LT Wattage = 320
LT HR = 169
LT Watts/kg = 3.66 (kinda sucky)
Max Watts = 450 (note, not absolute max I can do... this is where my legs said F U!)
Aerobic Threshold = HR<132 (pretty sucky)
Peak VO2 = 69.3 @ HR = 191bpm
VO2 @ AT = 53.7

So what does it all mean? Well I think it's not inaccurate to say that it means my training base really sucked, I was doing hard stuff sufficiently hard (but probably too much of it), I'm not quite an aerobic freak (but well above average), and I've got a long way to go. At least those were many of the layman's explanations I got. If you've never been tested, I recommend it. It can tell you a lot. I actually found the most interesting thing to be that the data told the guy I hadn't been doing much long easy base training without me ever having mentioned that to him. Isn't data great? For the record, that Armstrong guy supposedly had a W/kg of 6.75...

Well as I said, this is just the first chapter... where things went from here is to be continued...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Short stories

Because I'm trapped in MBA hell, here's the Clif Notes version:

- I still can't think for long about Saturday without flying into a rage. There was no way I was beating that guy who won, but I think I was on my way to the podium which I wanted bad.

- Sunday's result only sort of made up for it. Sure I'm pleased to get top 10 in any field at arguably the biggest race of the New England season, but I still think I can ride with a few of those guys who were ahead of me.

- I finally got to meet MIF. That was awesome.

- Sweeney is a rock star for offering me his bike while I was running even though he was having a good race. I think that's sort of illegal to get a bike from someone on the course, but the offer was unexpected and truly admirable.

- Nearly the ENTIRE blogosphere was there. Well, except a few losers. And yes sir, I'm just busting your nuts, but dude... just shoot the car and be done with it.

- I learned that if you enter a port-o-john next to Solo, you do so at your own risk.

- I learned that even at the base of the runup of death for the 4th time (maybe it was third) CTodd still has a sense of humor

- To the race staff guy who picked me out of the thousand people who were discretely walking around with adult beverages and decided to bust my nuts: Thank you for putting on an awesome race again, but dude, lighten up.

There's more thoughts in here, but they're being beaten down by the ones trying to be some sort of smart(ass) business guy.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bad then Good (with some bad)

Not feeling all that wordy right now so here's the semi-short version of G'Ster. I'm bound to post more thoughts tomorrow (day off):

Saturday (Cat 4):
2nd row start, slotted right in behind Cookie who always starts fast. Hit the dirt maybe 10th wheel, started moving forward. Coming out of the litter box on lap 2 I had moved up to 4th and was still going forward. On the up and down behind the backstop my chain popped off and got horribly jammed. I have no idea how many places I lost while I yanked on it and finally got it unstuck. Took 2 or 3 pedal strokes on the pavement and found out that I must have yanked the chain too hard because it snapped. Proceeded to run (hop on and roll the downhills) all the way around to the pit. For anyone who doesn't know Gloucester that's really really really far. Got my pit bike and proceeded to half-assed race the rest of the way. Result = Epic Fail.

Sunday (3/4 35+):
2nd row again, but lined up way left next to T-Needham. So-So start, maybe 25th onto the dirt. I was (probably the only guy who was) really excited about the nasty runup today and it was total carnage when we got there as expected. Kept moving forward, but did have one mishap when I washed out on one of the loose corners. I think it was there that I lost my polar computer off my bike (but didn't notice until way later)... today's bad. Had a moment of fun when I got to heckle CTodd midrace as I made the pass. Thought I was reeling in the above mentioned Mr. Needham, but then he absolutely took off with 2 to go. Ended up 10th. Moderately satisfied I guess. Wasn't quite high enough up to make up for Saturday, but acceptable. I'll wait for the data to tell me how I really did.

Ramblings and semi-coherent thoughts from the weekend later...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Philosophy question

If a cross race happens on a farm and the results are never posted did it really happen?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Man this Interwebs thing was quiet today

No results from Eco Cross yet. No reports from Mr. Results, CCC, or Badass (ok, until just now). Hell, even G only put up one post today. What is up with you people? How am I supposed to be unmotivated and kill time reading about cross all day when there's nothing to read? There had better be some good shizz next Monday people... and lots of it ;)

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Fun day today. Kudos to the folks at Coonamessett Farm for letting us come down there a tear up their lovely facility. I'd type the long version of the story now, but frankly I'm beat. Here's the short version:

Cat 4 35+: Average nondescript start. Moved up about 8 places on lap one and another 6 over the next two (I think it was two). Was sitting in and riding in third at the bell and then dropped a chain coming out of the sand pit. He got away, I couldn't close, I stayed in third. Good and bad all at the same time.

Masters 1-4: LOOOOOOOOOOOOONG delay of standing around while they took someone out of the sand pit from the Cat 4 U35 race in an ambulance. Really not a terrible start considering I started in the next to last row, but still tons of traffic on the tight technical course. Had no real gas, but I just sort of motored along. As far as results we'll just leave it that it took quite a bit longer to get lapped than I expected. I think it was the top 5 or so that got me and better people than me have been lapped by Mark, Frank, Kevin Hines and those other fast type guys.

On to the big one next weekend. Lots of TLC for the bike this week...

Friday, October 03, 2008

Pit bike

I just finished converting the Surly from full commuter mode to full pit bike mode... well at least as close as it's going to get. Man I hope to God I don't have to ride that thing. It will be the equivalent of Art taking a lap at GG on Brad's POS. But of course now that I have built it and gone and said that, watch for me to soon be mooning the crowd on a tank of a bike that's sorta way too small...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Thank God I didn't have to sprint by Dianne at the finish

Yes I'm still overdue on some stories from last week, but I'll get to that in an upcoming epic post. Today's events however demand immediate postage... There was no way I could trek to freaking Canada or wherever the Verge race was this weekend so I stayed home like lots of others to race at Bedford. Give it to the Quad guys... they put on a fun race last year and today did not disappoint either. Well my son had a football game this morning (ugly... don't ask) so I could only make it to the 3/4 U35 race at 12:30. I'll point out that I think Bedford may have been earlier last year and it was my first race back post-surgery. I got lapped by Lynne Besette. The weather this weekend ensured that it would be epic. Seeing the riders on course when I got there proved it. I got one lap in and found that it wasn't all that terribly technical if you don't mind mud. There was a power climb only because it was covered in a few inches of wheel sucking mud and a longish run only because it was faster to run than try to ride through the mud. The loop was short though so it was gonna be interesting.

Whistle blows and I got an ok start after almost crashing with Lil Stevie who nearly nutted himself after slipping out of a pedal. Unfortunately I then proceeded to ride like one of those hyper little chimps who had just drank a case of Red Bull. I was a mess as far as bike handling went even though I felt fairly strong. So we get maybe 1/3 of the way into the loop and there's this short little mud bog. Well in a pack it was carnage so I tied up with a guy to my right and basically threw him outside the tape while me and my bike landed on his bike. At the same time, I looked and my saddle was snagged on my shorts. It seemed like it was just one of those things like where it catches the chamois and sort of just pulls it forwards, but in the panic of being on top of two bikes I couldn't tell. Well I got up, remounted, and as soon as the muddy rooster tail started I could feel my ass cheek getting sprayed. I'm thinking "Dammit, friggin skin suits are expensive... and now I'm way in the back... and this sucks" but I plodded on and now I was riding angry. As I'm going though, it feels like a fairly large portion of the left cheek is getting covered in mud and I'm not so very comfortable with my short filling with mud and trying to ride. But I soldiered on and was picking guys off. Maybe 2 or 3 laps in, I'm noticing commentary and horrified laughs all around the course and I found Bauer near the pits. We had this exchange:

Me: Dude, how bad is my ass showing?
Rob: Oh, real bad! And I got pictures!

So now I'm pretty sure I'm effectively mooning everyone I pass. But I'm passing lots of guys and my bike is hanging in there despite the conditions. So I kept riding my ass off (pun intended). The highlights of the heckling from there:

- My buddy Ciaran yelling to me that he loved my ass (I worry about that dude sometimes)
- The random girl Ciaran was chatting with yelling "nice booty"
- JimmE and Sweenster waving dollar bills at me every time I rode by the pits
- There were also rumors of people calling me Ass Man (great episode of Seinfeld BTW)

Fortunately, the payoff for everyone who was there having to go home and bleach their eyeballs was that I brought home a big 5th place finish (according to the first set of results posted even though Ciaran counted me at 6th) which (in either case) means points for me in a race I wouldn't have expected them... yeah me.

Now I think I have to go do another round of scrubbing some dirt out of some places...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


If my head wasn't spinning I'd be sitting here banging out long-winded stories of swanky parties, long rides through seaside farms, and the ultimate in tragic bike sagas... but instead I'll just have to drop this teaser on you and keep you waiting...

Monday, September 15, 2008

CX Amesbury Style

Sort of quick race report from yesterday:

Had to do the 3/4's because it was the only race I could make it to without ditching my son's football game again (1 TD, many tackles, 5 positions played). Wasn't sure what would happen with the course in the rain especially with last years roots, but I took off the file-tread tires Saturday night and switched to the Vittorias anyways (for the record, this is probably a near wash since the Vittorias are way more narrow and the tread is questionable anyways). Course was pretty different than last year with the skate park section along the embankment run in the opposite direction and less roots (hooray). Saw some people, warmed up, lined up (front row baby), riders set... go! Hmmm, that's funny, I was sure I had 2 pedals on my bike... oh wait, it must be around here somewhere... wow these guys are fast... Hey that's funny guys stealing my pedal like that... hey look more fast guys... Oh, there's that sneaky pedal... DAMMIT! Couple that little adventure in start land with somehow dropping my chain after the first runup and I got a nice solid view of the Colin-esque DFL start (ok, maybe wasn't quite DFL, but really close). The chase was on and chase I did. I felt ok, but was pretty pegged the whole time. In a highly comical twist, the combo of the runup followed by a rooty section (hooray for rides in Delaney and Stow Town Forest) meant I was making up huge chunks on groups through that section. I was getting smoked on the couple of straightaways and I rode the short steeps on the banking fine (except once when I botched it). In the end I think I was 16th and I just nipped Yash who seemed to have everything possible go wrong, but was still smiling afterwards. I want to see the results for some names of who was ahead and behind before I decide if I'm satisfied. There were definitely fast guys in there, just didn't immediately recognize which ones. Maybe if someone out there was compiling all these results and calculating some sort of point system so you could see how you did against others that would be awesome... when it got updated at least (stupid real jobs interfering with more important things like cross)...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dear Dan

Here's that picture you asked for. I don't think the BMX world needs to worry about me joining them:

Friday, September 12, 2008

Oh by the way...

Maybe we could get USCF to start issuing everyone a set of rollers when they get their cat 5 license and as part of the 5 to 4 upgrade you have to demonstrate that you can ride them. I still kinda suck on them (as opposed to BB who is reported to be able to ride them no handed while pedaling with one foot), but I was comfortable enough staying in my little 16" wide happy place while hammering in the 12 last night. Can you imagine the carnage if (insert name of squirly cat 5 or 4 (or 3) rider here) tried this? Oh the humanity. Rollers are good. Try them... just make sure there's nothing sharp nearby for a while.

Quick check in

It occurred to me that it's been way too long since I checked in so I figured I'd throw down some mindless commentary to entertain the both of you. I had this whole thing in my head where I was going to describe what a typical day is like for me lately, but 1) you probably don't really care, and 2) just thinking about it makes me tired. Suffice it to say that I was completing a workout on my rollers last night at 10:30 p.m. because that's the first chance I got to do it. And yes, it's about 6:45 a.m. and I'm at work an hour away from where I live. You do the math on how much sleep I got... your prize for the right answer will be an empty XL coffee cup from DnD (which I'm about to empty).

Amesbury CX Sunday. The only one I can make it to is the 3/4's so hopefully I can minimize the beating I take. If I'm doing stupid shit like getting my intervals in on rollers at 10 p.m. I better be able to. Now if someone could just nudge me at the start line just before they blow the whistle to wake me up I'd appreciate it...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A quiet anniversary

This past weekend marked the unofficial anniversary of when I started running 20 years ago. Not knowing the exact date I started my Freshman year of high school, I've always just gone with Labor Day weekend. At one point this year I had thought about doing some big running related thing to commemorate this milestone, but somewhere along the way I lost interest and it came and went with only my relaxed jaunt around the Chalz Friday as time spent doing the left/right/left thing. Instead we'll have to go with just discovered photo evidence from a couple months back showing that the old man's still got it:

This was 3 laps into my 5:03 1600m effort... I think I disguised the pain face fairly well.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sometimes you shoot and miss

I'm in the midst of trying out new saddles because I've become sort of disenchanted with my San Marco Aspide Arrowhead that I've had for I think ~4 years. The cover is in reasonable shape, but either the padding is starting to break down or my aging ass is becoming more sensitive, but I'm having some issues. I got 3 samples from the greatest LBS in the world to try out and I put 2 hours a piece on 2 different ones this weekend. Yesterday's was ok, but not great. Probably nothing I'd go with, but I wasn't miserable. Today's on the other hand was just a miserable experience. I could tell about 30 minutes in it was going to be a long ride, but I was committed at that point so I wasn't going home to change it out. It was just awful in every way you don't want a saddle to be awful. Oh well... I made it home and I'll recover. One more to try out, but I've got low expectations for this one. Maybe I'll start out with a trainer trial or just pedal a little 5 mile loop around home to start with. This is tricky business because you really can't tell until you hit the road and in my opinion you need to do several things to be sure: 1) ride at least 2 hours on it if not more, 2) ride a good chunk of time on it really really easy, 3) ride some time on it really hard. I'm finding that my whole body position varies depending on the effort I'm putting in and it has a big effect on my saddle comfort. To make it more fun, recommendations don't really do much since beauty is in the ass of the beholder when it comes to these things. Ah well, I'll find one I'm sure.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A reasonably good couple of days

I'll go with today being an above average day. This morning my son had a football game. Last Sunday I missed his game due to the race at the Blunt. That meant I missed his 2 touchdowns and key block that basically allowed the third for his team to happen. All week I got to hear about how great he played and what a shame it was I missed it. Well today he continued on his streak for me to witness. 1 touchdown, 2 fumble recoveries, umpteen tackles, many yards rushing. He broke at least 6 tackles for his touchdown too so it was hard earned. Very cool to watch. Then I got out for a ride. The weather was nice, the ride was good, the traffic was light... what more can one ask? Dinner was a little nuts with the boys, but it always is. And I got to drink beers from Harvard's with dinner so that dulled the chaos a little.

Yesterday was a super fantastic day... but I'm gonna make y'all wait several weeks for the story on that one...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Two Fitty

How fitting that post number Deuce Fitty is a race report from the Blunt. I'm a little short on time so this will be the slightly condensed version.

The Course:
Riders ready... TWEET! About 300 yards down the pavement into a 180 left that narrowed to about 4 feet, watch the trees in the middle of the course, turny stuff, right into the woods, log dismount (unless you are Coley), bunny hop the big stick/small log, left turn, right turn, dismount for off-angle log followed by large roots, high speed single track to high speed dismount over log (again unless you were really good), out of the woods, little left hook into the woods just to turn sharp right and ride over another small log, narrow stuff on the grass, watch the chicane around the two trees, dismount for a railing (yes that's #4), turny stuff, dismount for the 4 pack of barriers, 180, cross the pavement, more turny stuff, off camber right turn "uphill", 180, down, left, 180 right, huge log dismount, back onto start finish stretch, ~25 yards to finish line. Phew. And yes, that was 6 dismounts.

Cat 4 race:
Got the primo lineup and Brad captured what may have been my finest start ever. Dude on the right of that pic proceeded to ride away and win clearly. Me, Noreast dude in second wheel center, and some Colavita guy who came back from the cheap seats eventually ended up in a 3 way battle for the 2-4 spots. Noreast guy was technically superior. Colavita guy was no slouch. To get to a point, I got gapped just after the barriers on the final lap and there was nowhere to really close it down or pass. Came home 4th, in the money and finally scoring some points. Pleased overall with the effort considering I still suck at technical stuff, but the fun wasn't over yet.

Cat 3/4 race:
Mediocre lineup and equally mediocre start. Pre-reg list featured several MRC guys as well as some speedsters like Marro (BOB), Yash (HUP?), and Bailey (BRC) (sorry for no links). Fought the crowd for lap one and got warmed up again and came through to see we were doing 8 laps this time (as opposed to the 6 in the previous race). This equaled lots of time to just reel guys in which I proceeded to do. I held my own (mostly) in the woods and tried to minimize gaps. Every time I hit the pavement I drilled it and made up or created huge gaps. The highlight was finally catching Brad with 2 or 3 to go after his top 10 start. Shortly after I looked up and noticed that I was actually within sight of Marro. Probably no chance of catching him, but just being able to see him there was an accomplishment. By now I had moved to the top 20 and was starting to reel in a couple more guys. Sadly, somewhere in the woods, my suckitude or an ornery root got the best of me and I had the unmistakeable feeling of a squishy rear (and not the kind from too much ice-cream). Rode it as long as I could keep it upright, then shouldered it for a quick run to the pits. Reasonably quick change, but I lost at least 5 or 6 spots and it was too late to take them back. Rolled home as a contributor to the prize purse.

So to my earlier report of numbers... at 6 dismounts per lap, plus one extra when my tire was flat, for 16 laps of the course I did 85 dismounts and remounts. Not exactly the forum I wanted for that much practice, but it'll serve me later I hope.

OK, overused my free time so I gotta run. An aspiring rock star has guitar lessons...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Score Card

2.5 hours of driving
2 starts
89 minutes of racing
1759 calories
2 Clif Bars
1 pacakge Shot Blocks
1 flat tubular
~84 dismounts and remounts
4 upgrade points

Long version later. I'm cooked.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Few quick ones

1. Here's your TTBR: Rogue Dead Guy Ale. It's brewed in Oregon. The Oregon cross scene rocks. And it's hoppy like those really good riders who bunny hop barriers. And there's a skeleton on the bottle that kinda reminds you how you feel after a good hard race. How bad can this stuff be? Let me tell you... total absence of any hint of bad. Drink it.

2. PSA: YOU DO NOT OWN THE BIKE PATH! Yes, that is meant for you. I don't care if you're Mr. 4% body fat on his $5000 bike or the old dude with the shitzu on an extenda-lease or the daycare lady pushing the 2 wide by 4 deep stroller or the ignorant Harvard student who thinks they can go for a 3 wide stroll down the middle of the path with their ignorant friends. Don't be stupid people. Can't we just all share?

3. I'm training a lot. And THE season starts Sunday. Training + cross = fun. Fun is good. Good is what we want.

4. Dan was right... Chamois Butter Euro-style is great. Who doesn't want some soothing cooling action while they lube their saddle region? Use it.

Need food. See item 3 (and 1).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I've sort of gone dark lately and it might continue a little. I am racing Sunday so that will be plenty of fodder for the blogosphere. Between work, youth football, training, and day-to-day life time is short these days. Hopefully I free up or just say eff it to check in here more...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Finally getting a chance to give my recap of this past weekend. A lot of the details have been or will be covered here,
here, here, and of course here so I won't rehash all that. I will say that I'm pleased that my reverse psychology trick on mother nature worked and she pulled a "I'll show you" by providing picture perfect weather for the duration of the race. Everything leading up to the race however was what made the event most interesting.

Sort of going with the punch-line first approach, I'm really damn pleased with how I rode. I got in 7 laps. I rode nearly all of the deep mud sections on 6 of the 7 laps. My 4 laps in the light were I think all sub 50 or right at it and my 3 at night were all in the 54-55 range. 5 minutes seems like a predictable level of slow down when you can't see a whole lot, you're tired, and they gave you a warning about black bears during the rider meeting. Speaking of tired, I am almost certain I did not sleep at all from about 6 a.m. Saturday when the sun came up until 8 p.m. Sunday when I packed it in. I had a longish break Saturday from about 10ish to 2ish, but that was largely taken up with eating, cleaning, lubing, and trying to figure out what Art was going to do after breaking both of his bikes. That was a funny exchange at about 1 in the morning:

Art (outside my tent): Rich, we have a problem. I broke my other bike.
Me (trying to sleep and failing): What?! What happened?
Art: I snapped the seat post collar (he may have said seatpost bolt).
Me: Go get one from the Red Jersey tent
Art: Tried, they don't have one.
Me: Well you've only done 3 laps and we need to get your ass around the course somehow. Go get Brad's backup bike off the car.
(It must be noted here that Brad's backup bike is a 10-12 year old Kona that was too small for Brad and Brad is smaller than Art. It was also brought only with the intention of stealing parts off it if needed.)
Art: What? What kind of pedals does he have on it.
Me: It doesn't matter, I have a pedal wrench out there.

So to sum up, Art came back in a pinch looking for someone to ride for him and I basically told him to get his ass on the crappy bike and like it. Fortunately he only had to do one lap on it and later used Scott's bike and all was well.

Other incidents/observations/moments worth mentioning:
- My bike kicked ass. Hardtail 29er was perfect for that course and the thing was solid. Every time I was churning through the foot of peanut buttery mud I was praying that nothing snapped, but she held up. A nice coat of Pedro's Syn-Lube before each lap and I was rocking. 1 dropped chain and zero mechanicals for me... I'll take it.

- G's Dad was a cool guy. Seemed to be a man of few words. Apparently he and G balance each other out :)

- I'm running on leg one and I come up next to Colin. He first asks me why I'm behind him if I'm the runner. He then informs me that he thinks he's bonking already.

- Mechanical failure of the race goes to the guy who's front wheel completely failed on the steep part of the plunge at 3 a.m. I had moved aside to let him fly through and the thing just went with a huge bang. I look over to see his wheel folded in half with him supermaning into the woods. I checked if he was ok and then headed down the rest of the hill. At the bottom some guy who had walked down says to me "Man, you just had to pass him, you didn't have to shoot him". I almost wet myself laughing.

- The bag-piper at sunrise was cool shit. I was getting onto the last section of single-track when I first heard it. I was already in a better mood because I could see the trail again mostly and then I got to listen to him the rest of the way down.

- The team was awesome. We were in a tight race for the 6-9 spots in 4-man sport for the whole event. We finally settled in 8th with 26 laps of not the fastest course in the world. Can't complain.

Ok, so I could go on forever with tidbits from the weekend, but let's just say it again that it was crazy damn fun. Now on to cross season...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Apology to 24 HOGG riders

To all 24 Hours of Great Glen Riders,

In advance of the aniticipated weather and course conditions at this years race, I would like to apologize for inflicting this punishment on you. You see I have a long and storied history of epic race conditions. My palmares in this arena range from multiple editions of RTB in a hurricane, to some of the worst conditions ever for the Mt. Washington hillclimb. The reason I own a 10x10 canopy was the acceptance of the fact that the epic conditions follow me, particularly when I plan on event well in advance. Keep your chins up... maybe I'll let you cut me in line at the bike wash as retribution.

The guy who wishes he practiced more at a nice indoor sport like basketball

Friday, August 01, 2008

Solving your problems

So if you're here, there's an above average chance that you own a bike. If you're like about every biker I've met, you own multiple bikes. If you're one of the cool kids, one of those bikes is a mountain bike. Now if you own a mountain bike, there's a well above average chance that at least once in your illustrious career, you've crashed your wheel into a rock/tree/wall/root way harder than you wanted to. Maybe at the time you had your nice wheels on so that made you mad. Maybe you didn't have your nice wheels on, but you were still pretty mad anyways. Maybe this incident left you wishing you had a good sturdy set of wheels to use as spares or to replace the one you just busted. Well here's where I come dancing into your life with the solution . You're welcome. I take cash, checks, or paypal.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Not sure how I feel about this

I'm all for capitalism, but there's two ways to look at this story: Either the public is really really stupid or EM is really really a bunch of crooks. They're contributing to crippling the economy, but we're helping them do it. I could now go off onto some philisophical tirade about who's more at fault, but I'll leave that to the master.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Someone had to compete with Solo for the mangled saddle picture. Unfortunately mine is from being fat and/or a hack and not from doing 20,000 miles or whatever was on his. As it turns out, the Specialized Alias is NOT a good mountain biking saddle for a 190 (ok fine, 195) pound semi-skilled mountain biker. No, the rails are not supposed to be shaped that way and No, the nose is not supposed to point down like that.

I also can't remember if I ever posted a picture of the killer Haro that the middle one got hooked up with for learning to ride. Yes, Dad likes to play with this too...

Countdown to GG, 10 days. Countdown to cross season, 25 days.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fitness means nothing...

if you don't know what to do with it. Right now the fitness is pretty good... even have the numbers from a recent LT and VO2 test to prove it. Not great, but pretty good. Despite that, the Norwell circuit race was just another demonstration of how I'm just not a very good bike racer. Still don't know how to get myself into position to win even if I do have the legs. Still haven't shaken all the ghosts of crashes past (and for the record what level do guys have to get to before they stop being sketchy... there's some 3's and/or 4's out there that are just trying to take down half the field). Still not quite good/lucky enough to attack and make it stick. Made a couple moves today... not the greatest timing or execution. As typical sort of just came in as pack fill. Pace of the field felt fine, but I just didn't have that little extra. Ah well... soon enough it's cross season anyways.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Summer class done... aw yah!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Going into the final I was holding all aces. Even drawing a duece wouldn't have killed me so perhaps I put a touch less effort into my feverish writing than I could have. We shall see what the result is. But really, is there value in recommending a corporate level strategy for a US winery at a point in time 6 years ago? I had to make a conscious effort to not just go and find out what they went and did. Ah, whatever... learning is good even if it's just flexing that squishy thing in your head every now and then (sounds like a G comment).

3 classes to go... 2 more semesters. But for now 5 weeks off... let's ride kids.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

You win mother nature

We try to be good and not go overboard with heating/cooling systems in the respective season. Unless it gets brutal we try to stick with fans in the summer. In the winter we keep the heat reasonably low especially now that the kids are a touch older. Tonight I gave up the fight. It's been at least 88 degrees in the house for days. At night we catch a break sometimes and it goes down to 75. Crank the oven to 400 to make some chicken and you can't even eat it's so uncomfortable. AAaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, air conditioners. At least we'll try to keep them set at a reasonable level...

Friday, July 18, 2008

A milestone

No, not the umpteenth contribution to the blogosphere this time...

13 years ago today I met Mrs. Tall Freak on a blind date.
11 years ago today I proposed.
10 years ago today was the wedding (and a killer wedding it was)

(Yes this is all very convenient for countering the male propensity for forgetting key dates in marital history)

It's amazing she's tolerated me for this long. Then again I've only been racing bikes for the past 3 or 4 years...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Vaca from vaca

Just got back today from family vacation. Like always, I think I now need a vacation to recover. I actually shouldn't complain... Thursday afternoon through Tuesday morning up north and I got in 3 road rides and 2 mountain rides while there. One mountain ride was a GG recon ride so that should help in a couple weeks. 2 road rides were with one of the CCB super studs and I didn't die. Good solid training camp so now if I can get in one more race (2 if I'm lucky) before GG I'll be stylin. Full vaca review later... just need to relax now.

BTW, oldest got the start on the mound tonight in his first game. Recorded his first ever K which is huge... we'll just overlook the 3 runs he walked home... focus on the positives...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Freak shout out

Any of the freaks out there actually know anyone who has ever bought a Zinn frame? Reviews? As much morbid curiosity as it is future planning...

Bikes for Everyone?

Last night wathcing the Tour I saw a Cervelo commercial during which they claimed they "make bikes for everyone" and went on to tout how all their riders ride stock bikes. For some reason, the immediate response in my head was "No you don't... you make bikes for those who fit between 20% and 80% of the average human size. Just like every other company, you make bikes for MOST so that you can maximize sales and minimize stale inventory." Don't get me wrong, I think Cervelo is a decent company trying to do good things, just don't go making claims you can't back up.

You think too little sleep and too much school have me riled? This never should have gotten me so worked up... CTodd, you still thinking that B school thing is such a good idea? :)

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Killer weekend

I'll warn you up front I'm feeling lazy and too stream-of-conscious to do the linky thingy tonight... sorry.

So it's been a pretty killer weekend. Thursday I rode to work and then had to race the thunderstorms home. Went ok and it was good to be riding. Friday we intentionally planned to not be committed to go anywhere. Me and the wife slept late and the boys were super good. No idea when they even got up. Then they brought me coffee in bed. I could get used to that. Worked my butt off around the house Friday and did a whole lot of this and that. Then I met 3 others for some night mountain biking. I had never ridden at night before. We hit Stow Town Forest for almost 2 hours and finished around 10:30. It was so insanely fun I can't wait to go again. Now if I could just get my chain skipping issues figured out... Saturday morning was some more sleeping in (sort of) a little playing and running around in the morning, then off to Landry's to work on the skipping issues. Worked on it for a while with the guys in the shop but we were stumped. Had to leave it and hopefully they can come up with something tomorrow. Always tricky when nobody in the shop is big enough to test ride. Friday afternoon/evening was a cookout with friends, many of which we don't see anywhere near often enough. It was good to hang and chat. The oldest had silly fun because he managed to shatter 6 generic wiffle balls the guy had picked up for the party... kid can hit I tell ya. Today I got up too late again and then puttered around a little. Had to hook up with a friend to pick something up so I decided to ride there. His house is effectively uphill from here, 30 miles away (need to create map). Ride there suuuuuuuuuuuucked. Ride home was awesome. Total for the ride I banged out 60 in 2:56 ride time... that made me happy. Happy is good. Sadly rest of the day has been mostly homework. Have I mentioned school may kill me?

Ok, so that was a big mess of run on nonsense... if it helps at all I feel better from rambling.

Oh, and how could I forget... the boys rocked Fitchburg and took 2nd and 4th in the 4's. Kid who took second is 17 (I believe)... he is a stud. 3's did well also and rode tough against some horses. Bud of mine in the masters scored a second in the circuit race and third in the crit, both behind Mahk and finished 13 on GC... dude is a stud. If things go right I get to have my ass handed to me by him this coming weekend up in the White Mountains. Should be fun.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Story time

So some may remember me claiming a while back that I was retiring from running (too lazy to go back and link the post). Since that assertion I have become a casual runner at best. There may have been a week that I ran 3 times, but I'm pretty certain it was no more than 2 in any week and some weeks it was zero. Knowing that I had the Marathon Cup Relay coming up I stepped it up a little and ran about 11 miles last week, but only in 2 runs. So I basically went into this event with my goal being not to blow a hamstring.

Last year I surprised myself by busting out a 5:16 at this thing. It was pretty shocking considering the horrible mangled-groin injury from Sturbridge and various other episodes of throwing my body into the pavement. This year I figured I'd put myself down for a 5:20 and this should be a reasonable goal. Did a couple miles of warmup and felt reasonably ok in that I at least didn't feel sloppy like I have been from not running regularly. Then I hit the track to do some 100m efforts just to remember what fast felt like and I remembered that fast hurt. Oh well... hold onto your hamstrings and see how it goes down.

My leg came up and there was lots of roadkill up the track so at least I had targets. I hit 200 and checked the watch... 33... aw shit... slow down idiot. 400m came in a slightly more reasonable 71 and I didn't want to puke yet. I tried to keep dialing back a little, but I think I dialed back too much because I believe I hit half in about 2:28 (can't quite remember). We had talked on the drive down about how much lap 3 sucks no matter how in shape you are so I just tried to hold it together and pick it up a little going into it. I can't for the life of me remember what my 1200m split was, but I remember thinking 2 things: 1) I don't quite feel death setting in yet, and 2) Holy shit, I could almost break 5. First 200 of the final lap was a tad too slow and I waited a little late to go all in on the finish sprint so I crossed the line in 5:02.

Now to put this in perspective, my PR (from way back in the day) is about 35 seconds faster than this, I was only 6th in my age group, and I don't even know if I hit top 20 overall at the event. On the other hand, my racing flats still had Hampton Beach sand on them from the final leg of Reach the Beach last September since that's the last time I ran against a clock and I think my long week since I declared myself retired has been maybe 12 miles. For a while I was almost embarrassed that I had somehow pulled this off on no training, but then of course the competitive side of me took over and I was pissed I didn't squeak out another 3 seconds :) Apparently this whole biking thing does make running a bit easier. Good thing since running every day is too painful anymore.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

File this under absurd

1600m in 5:02

Story later...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Spicing things up

And no not just the tasty bowl of turkey chili I've got here...

Usually my commute rides are very uninteresting. Same exact route, generally the same time of day +/- a few minutes, generally the same crowd of other uninteresting routinized folks seen along the way. Well this morning I got a nice treat... some change of scenery and some brief company. There's this one road which is key to the relaxing ride to work in that it avoids major chunks of route 117 and route 20. They've been doing construction to totally repave the road which is a good thing. Well this morning apparently they decided they wanted to be done early for the weekend because the road was closed for paving when I got there. So we got to do some wandering and sightseeing. Fortunately I avoided getting lost as I wandered past the multi-million dollar neighborhoods of Wayland and Weston (how can every house in a neighborhood have a private tennis court?). So then a bit later I was chugging along and I heard something behind me. I peeked back to find that it was the Crack-O-Dawn crew out for a little hammer-fest and they were bearing down on me. Couple quick down shifts before they caught up and I decided to try and sit in for a couple minutes just for the sheer comedy value. There's me, commuting to work on the cross check with panniers on it, in a paceline on a hammer ride. Good fun if only for a few minutes. Oh, and not to start pissing people off, but if anyone out there knows anyone from the crack-o-dawn crew... it may be early, but there are still cars on the road. "Car Back" typically means move the eff over...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I keep getting cross-eyed looks from my wife and non-biking friends when I make mention of another bike. Heck, I'm sure even a reader or two (i.e. one of them or the other one of them) has muttered under their breath that I must fall into the "deep-pocketed-mofo" category with several mentions of "new" bikes (don't I wish). I try to constantly refer back to the man with 43 wheels , but then again he does have a number of distinguished years on me so it doesn't seem to help. In any case, it got me thinking I could kill some quality case-analysis homework time by listing out the bike history (if for no other reason than to get that infamous head-shaking look from the dear wife).

Now if you take into consideration each discipline of cycling that I've taken up as it's own entity (I know it doesn't work that way... shush), it's really not that bad:

- First real road bike - Bianchi Eros. Purchased used off some CRW guy with a laundry room converted into a bike workshop. Once I realized how too small this was for me and I had a few bucks I stripped it for parts and sold the frame.
- First new real road bike - Lemond Buenos Aires. Later doubled as an intro to cross bike and a commuting bike. Ultimately run over by some guy who shouldn't have a license.
- Second "new" real road bike - Leader LD735R. Used the parts from the Bianchi and a few new bits to build my first racing bike when I decided I wanted to race. Later doubled as a commuting bike. Ultimately sold to some dude in Michigan when I accepted this was also too small.
- Current road bike - Old Skool lugged Guerciotti (model unknown). Frame purchased on ebay and the insurance money from the Lemond incident paid for parts. Later had custom fork added. Still in action

- First "mountain bike" - 24" Trek 820, fully rigid. Purchased for about $300 while in college. Later sold to a guy for his dad to ride bike paths.
- First real mountain bike - Nashbar 853 steel frame, hand-picked build kit. Just recently stripped and a few bits being sold (anyone need some wheels or a frame?)
- New (as in not yet ridden) mountain bike - Kona Kula 29er, everything usable from first bike reused, new wheels and fork.

(Let's not count the Lemond)
- First cross bike - Bianchi San Jose SS. Purchased off ebay when the Lemond got wrecked and I wanted to race cross. Later sold to some college kid who was bringing it to Chicago
- Current cross bike - THE ANT (need I say more). And for the record, you can pry this one from my cold dead hands.

(Again skipping the Lemond and Leader)
- Surly Cross Check. Purchased this year to save abuse to the ANT and because wearing a backpack for 3 hours a day while commuting was getting old. Bonus double-duty as a pit bike if needed.

So there we are. One could say I need to make up my damn mind and ride the effin things instead of swapping them in and out constantly. Ok, maybe now that I read this she has a point shaking her head at me...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mini rut

The worst thing that could have happened was Wells not sucking yesterday. Friday I had hoped to pick up my MTB and come home and ride it but it wasn't ready. In the mean time I got a call from a college friend to go drink beer. So I did. Saturday I was supposed to get up at 5, eat some breakfast, and then go get tortured by GD for 3 hours. But I rolled back over, realized at 5:35 that I was still in bed and I had about 5 minutes to be on my bike or in my car with the bike on it. So I went back to bed. I then did house work all day and finished off the day by playing golf. Sunday I met Danny boy for a great ride down to Wells and capped it off by not sucking. I even initiated a break that sort of lasted for maybe 4 laps. And I had someone tell me I did a good job starting the break. And I got to chat with CTodd. And it was a fun morning. Today I meant to run. Then I rolled the dice and guessed it would rain during the time I had to run. So I ate free lunch instead. And it didn't rain. Then I came home and didn't run. I didn't bike either. 1 out of 4 days not being a slug drinking beer is not a good training plan. Very soon I could be spinning the granny gear down the complacency highway to sucksville. I'm going to try again tomorrow to not do that.

P.S. That was the most linktastic post evah...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I needed that

I've been feeling lately like I had hit a comfortable point in my training where I was clearly doing a good amount and getting some racing in, but I wasn't doing any specific workouts where I was really pushing myself. Despite a lack of time tonight, I still managed to get a short version of one of my favorite workouts in. This loop is a bit over 7.5 miles and has 6 distinct climbs including the water tower climb and "the wall" which is the final one. The breaks in between climbs are pretty short. I'm pretty sure I've done 4 loops of this in a workout before. Tonight I only got in two. First loop felt like I was cold and not warmed up which was true. Second loop rocked. Climbed the whole water tower standing in the 39x19 which I don't think I've ever done before. I need to start doing this ride on a regular basis again. Who's in? :)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Where'd a week go?

Huh, it's been a week already? I think my excuse is somewhere between being outrageously busy and not having much interesting going on. I had to do 2 presentations last week on corporate strategy (contain your excitement, I had to) so that sort of screwed everything up through Wednesday. After that I spent 2 days unscrewing myself. Weekend was normal chaos although the wonderful family did allow me to sleep until the unheard of hour of 9 a.m. and then served me coffee and donuts in bed. As far as training, it was definitely a weekend of less is more. Thursday on my ride home I just felt cooked and then I upped it to well done by running too hard on Friday. Saturday was nada, yesterday was a 1 hour cross ride (aw yeah, it's gettin here folks). Ran again today so just hoping the rain goes away to ride in tomorrow. Oh, and someone needs to decide where they're racing next. Fortunately I got word tonight that the mountain bike will be back soon...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Recipe for success

1. Have a non-descript marginally ok spring of training and racing
2. Do 6800 feet of climbing in 5.5 hours of riding 8 days before race
2. Take endo over a not very big log on a not very big downhill day before race
3. Sit out in sun after endo and get sunburned
4. Sleep poorly for maybe 5 hours
5. Wake up at 5 for race feeling queasy
6. Make multiple pit stops on way to race due to queasiness
7. Win race convincingly.

How that worked I have no idea, but it did. The race story is actually kinda short in terms of back and forth action. I headed up the start hill second wheel, a group of 3 of us got to the first bridge together with everyone else gone, I moved to second a couple minutes later, passed up to first on next climb, juiced it going up the fire-road hill, hey wait, where'd everybody go?

I will openly admit that I mangled the course pretty badly at many times during the race. I was off and on though... rode some sections surprisingly clean and other sections I looked very much a beginner rider. Fortunately I can still run pretty well so that was put to good use on a couple sections. Hopefully I can start collecting some legitimate skills so I don't get destroyed in Sport. Now I have to pick a venue for the first test...