Thursday, May 28, 2009

Can I get a WTF?

I got the rare chance to do a long-ish ride after work today. I headed out wearing a winter weight jersey, bib shorts, leg warmers, wool socks, full finger gloves, and a light winter hat to cover my ears. I probably should have also had a vest and shoe covers. Any yes, Monday is June 1.

The only consolation is that it was a pretty awesome ride despite the numbness...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's the O stand for? Oh my God it's early.

A combination of weather and little league schedules showed me that my only opportunity to ride today was on the gerbil wheel in the garage at 4:30 a.m. It sucked less than I feared, but I don't want to make a habit of it. The kicker will be when tonight's game is rained out. Ah well, that'd give me the chance to get my arse kicked in some video games by the little Wii hustlers that live with me. That's ok... I won't be traumatized by losing to them until it happens in a bike race/running race/basketball game/etc... hopefully I have a few more years before that happens.

Monday, May 25, 2009

If Rich doesn't blog, does anyone even notice?

Wow, how'd I go so long without posting... completely lost track. This odd thing called free time sort of snuck up on me and revealed all these wonderful things I can do like sleeping, playing with those short people who live in my house, and bringing my yard back up to acceptable community standards. It's actually been an awesomely productive and relaxing weekend (sort of). Kicked it off with the ride to and from work Friday, nice little early morning beat-down ride Saturday followed by a very full day of yard work, more yard work and some more riding Sunday, 9 holes of golf early today followed by a 2 hour + MTB ride and the cookout and beers start soon. You probably agree that it sounds awesome... go ahead, be jealous... it's ok ;) Hopefully everyone else is enjoying the hell out of themselves too.

Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't send a giant thanks to all the vets and current service men and women. I could never do what they have done and words can't possibly say thank you properly, but I'll send it out anyways...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt

First off I want to issue a gigantic CONGRATULATIONS to my lovely wife who has completed her master's degree with her sanity (mostly) intact. In the past 5 years she gave birth (again), got three hyperactive little boys pointed in what seems like a good direction in life, worked full time, had fairly major knee surgery, kicked some pretty serious butt on the soccer field, completed a master's degree, and, amazingly, put up with me. I may even give her a break and not heckle her about watching reality TV for a while ;)

Now some of you (all 3 of you) may have noticed that I was strangely quiet about having completed grad school myself. I wouldn't say I'm superstitious per-se, but I definitely do try to follow a bit of the "don't count your chickens before they're hatched" mindset. One of my two professors literally waited until the very last second to turn in our grades to the registrar so I was left hanging for an extra 6 days to find out how I did in my final class. To be honest I was a tiny bit concerned because I hadn't done stellar on the midterm and the final just simply sucked... like 2.5 hours of pure suck. Turns out taking the day off from work to study must have paid off because it seems I did genuinely ok. So now, finally, as of 5 a.m. today I can breathe the big sigh of relief and say "I'M DONE!" Why don't we throw in a "WOO-HOO!" and a "YAH-BABY!" just for good measure. Calendar time, I was at this for 9.5 years. That included a 4 year hiatus and a couple of skipped semesters when we were elbows deep in newborn diapers. It's an incredible relief to be finished... and now I can wear the t-shirt :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sterling Stories

I've gone back and forth with myself repeatedly about how much of a writeup to do on my race and I finally decided the short version was for the best all around. We had a strong squad of 6 in the race, but there was some apparent mis-communication with regard to some plans that had been discussed for the race. The end result was me completely burying myself on lap 3, trying to sit in and recover on lap 4, trying an attack approaching the end of lap 4 and completely exploding, and ultimately coming in about a minute back of the pack. I've managed to continue my poor history at Sterling and I have to say that road racing so far this year has been very un-fun. But enough of that...

I got back to the school and changed up right away. I was already booked to drive follow for the 3/4's at 1:whenever, but then a driver no-showed so I got asked to do the 4/5 <35 also. It was a short race and the official was my best friend who randomly decided to become an official this year so it was all good. Two interesting stories from this race: 1) There were guys who literally had their numbers written down as being dropped before we even got up the hill to the official start of the race. I think that qualifies as a bad day. 2) We had fallen behind a little while working our way around dropped riders and came upon a crash out on the back streets. There were only 2 guys down I think, but one of them was laying in the gutter with a pile of shredded carbon next to him. He somehow had snapped his frame at the head tube on the top tube and on the downtube just up from the bottom bracket. And this was on a slight uphill. I have no freaking clue how.

Then it's on to 3/4 follow duties and I found out that I'd be driving around the same official who had earlier had to speak to be about a bit of a yellow-line infraction. It was a marginal situation where I had carried too much momentum into the section of rte 12 where the dotted white line (virtual yellow) shows up and comes into play and I passed a couple guys before squeezing in. He pulled up and reminded me and I apologized like a good cooperative racer. We had a laugh later and he told me he just wanted everyone to know he was paying attention. So remember, be kind to the officials because you may spend 2 hours in the car with them some day (or that same day). Ok, where was I... Oh yah... so the Pro's go off first, then the 3/4's, then the pro ladies. So we cruise around for a while and then we hear some radio chatter about the Pro's catching the women... they apparently make the pass ok and then we hear an update that there's a couple women up the road, then a small chase group, then the rest of the women are everywhere. So we go a bit more and see that we're going to catch the women's chase group, but there's a problem. By now, the women's chase is about 1:30 down to the break. We also have a group of about 10 up the road by about 1:30. So neutralizing either field basically decides that race for them. So the finger crossing begins that everyone will meet up on route 12 where there's tons of room to make a pass. Of course it doesn't happen that way. Thinking back now, the details are a little fuzzy, but I believe we managed to pass the chase group rather cleanly on the hill, but now the women's lead is in play. Sure enough, we start to catch them before we get to 12. We have also switched to leading the break because the gap was still growing. I still don't know how exactly it happened, but coming up the last narrow hill before you go down to 12, we catch the SRAM car that had been trailing the women's lead and some random car that had gotten on the course AND THEY STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD! So we've got a charging pack behind my truck and we have to come to a dead stop. You can imagine the chaos that ensued, but fortunately I don't think anyone went down. At the same time, as much as it was an out of control situation, the racers didn't exactly handle it well either because 1) as the official reminded me, you are NEVER supposed to pass your lead vehicle unless told to, and 2) there were all kinds of obscenities flying from behind us from people evidently forgetting that the official for their race was sitting in the car. So the pack goes around us and the other cars, we get on the radio to give a big WTF to everyone who can hear, and we proceed on our way. But wait... it gets better. So now we hit 12 and the group has caught the two lead women. We are not yet back ahead of the group and are trailing them. So they take it upon themselves to swarm around the two women and their lead car, but just as their about the complete the pass they basically sit up. Now, the women's lead car is having to honk at them and basically let the ladies draft off the car. We go to the front and basically tell the guys that they're going to have to drive the pace for a while to get the hell out of the way or we're going to have to just simply pull them over and wait. FINALLY, the whole thing managed to sort itself out going up the hills the next time, but we had basically a full lap of total chaos until it did. It's hard to say that much could have been done differently other than just recognizing earlier that we were going to catch the support car when we did and just neutralizing the men until we hit a more open area. The break was teetering right on the edge of being out of reach so it was a tough call and they wouldn't have been happy, but they weren't happy riding into the back of my truck either so it was a no win. Regardless, I still contend that every racer should try driving for a road race some day. You learn and see a lot that I think makes you appreciate both the official's job and the race as a whole more.

Despite the chaos, I hope all who were there enjoyed. Don't know when I'm racing again... my training the past 3 weeks has been suspect with all the school stuff I had so I should probably get that back on track. I also need to cutover to the dirt at some point to get ready for Pat's Peak, Great Glen, and CX. We'll see...

Friday, May 08, 2009

Is it too early to start a CX discussion?


Now I'm not sure how many people out there have a first-hand perspective on this, but there's gotta be a few... Typically, which is the faster field: A-Masters or the Killer B's (2/3)? My gut feel is that the standard podium crew is faster in the Masters field than the 2/3 field, but the average pace of the field as a whole may be higher in the B's. I could be way off on this, it's always seemed however like Mark and crew have a legit shot at the front end of a pro race where I'm not so confident about Colin and friends (no offense intended man... I still can't carry your water bottles for you).


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Who knew spare time would be bad?

I'm sitting her in the library at school (hopefully) 3.5 hours away from the conclusion of my graduate academic career... and that's the problem. The way my final night lined up was that I had to give a presentation for my 5 p.m. class and then I have a final in my 7:30 class. This final is nearly guaranteed to be a beatdown to the point that I took today off from work to study. So by the time I got here for the presentation, I was at mental saturation anyways and I just wanted this night to be over. Well there were only 2 groups due to give 15-20 minute presentations in the early class so we finished before 6. That gave me another 1.5 hours I hadn't planned on having to stew about this final. And you know how it goes when you've crammed for something... there's a breaking point where you start confusing yourself or questioning what you know, but regardless, you're not gaining anything. And just throwing in the towel, closing the books, and going to the library to blog doesn't make the final start (or end) any sooner...

Monday, May 04, 2009

Blue Hills Race Report

This is about all I've got for you kids (scale of plot withheld to protect the untalented). Prizes for anyone who can do a witty job of captioning/adding commentary.