Sunday, December 21, 2008
And capped off a fantastic 08 'cross season.
For recaps, check out ThomP's and Colin's blogs.
Many thanks to:
- the Ice Weasels masterminds Thom, Colin & Linnea;
- the White Barn and clan for such a home sweet home venue;
- the USAC officials who also braved the cold for their last race of the year;
- International Bicycle Centers for their support and prizes;
- IBCers for their help;
-and of course, to all mad 'crossers who came out and made it into a party!
Friday, November 14, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
If you're interested in a good race report, Colin attached a video camera to his seat, so you can see all the pain faces of the riders behind him in the race. Genius!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Just a preview: flavors will be car bomb (guinness with bailey's frosting), margarita, and lemon chiffon.
I expect to see you there.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
2008 Napa, CA Report
If you want the short story, here it is: I placed top 11 out of 400+, but two guys in Borat bathing suits beat me, and I put out about 18 Billion "Whats?". Like: What the hell am I doing? What the hell is that guy wearing? What lap is this? What time do I get to stop riding my bike and start drinking beer? What time is it? Really, I never converted my watch to California time and now I don't have enough blood going to my brain to figure it out. If you can still perform basic arithmetic while racing your bike, you're just not doing it right.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
This was the first time I saw that the organizers, Team BOB and Goodale’s Bike shop, had a list of preme sprint lap prizes. After reviewing the list it was apparent that some guys were going to be motivated to win multiple sets of Conti tires, Giro sunglasses, floor pumps, CO2 kits, a Bontrager wheel set, valued at $300 and a bunch of miscellaneous items. Chris White (BOB), who I haven’t seem on the oval all year, took my application and told me to lookout because the dynamics of the race would be drastically different with so many sprint laps. I wasn’t sure how it would affect it but my goal was to stay up front as much as possible either way.
I lined up with teammates Greg and Lance towards the back of the group. After the race started one thing became obvious within the first few laps. The chicane half way around the course made it difficult to go thru with more than three riders wide. And if you were in the back of the group there was a major slinky effect going into and coming out of it. Because of this I tried to stay towards the front as much as possible. And by doing so it actually felt easier to be up front. The other advantage I found going thru the chicane towards the front was my Father, step mom, sister in-law, niece and nephew were in those corners and could see me coming sooner. This helped with my motivation because every time I came thru I’d hear them yelling “Go Uncle Steven!!!” And that really helped me block-out the fact that my heart rate was hovering around 184BPM which is over my threshold.
As the race progressed it became obvious that no one was going to get away from the field with all of the sprint laps unless they were in a big group. This played out to my advantage because I’ve never been successful in small breaks and typically have a stronger finish if I don’t attempt many of them. As with most races the last few laps are the fastest and a true test of ones fitness. So as we got down to 3 laps to go I did my best to stay towards the front. On the bell lap things got crazy because the whole field thought they should be up front also and we really bunched up heading toward the hill. I did my best to accelerate up the small hill before the chicane and found myself in ~6th place coming out of it. I had some contact with a rider thru the last corner and the guy on the outside skipped his rear wheel when he jumped to accelerate. I tried to stay on the wheels of the guys in front of me without standing and wait till the end to get around them. But all I could do at such a high pace is stay behind them and spin as fast as possible till crossing the line in 5th place. After the finish the judges reviewed the results and some protests were filed against the rider that I made contact with. Apparently he made contact with the other riders ahead of me and was relegated to 11th place for his actions which placed me 4th overall.
So it seems doing the Concord Crit the weekend before helped prepare me tactically. I didn’t walk away with any of the sprint lap merchandise but won $55 and had a great time. I’m happy my family was there to witness my efforts and share in some of the adrenaline. Seems they almost had as much fun watching. Almost.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The Concord Crit. is a popular race and I entered the Master 45+ with 57 other riders. The race started off quickly but I moved up to the front within a lap and tried to stay there to watch for any major threats. I found I could maintain the pace on the hill by staying seated, dropping a gear and just spinning up the RPM’s. Most guys stood to accelerate or maintain their pace. My Hr hit 184 regularly every time this happened but I was no worse off than anyone else. There were a couple of premes but I didn’t go for them. Instead I stayed towards the front to make sure that they didn’t stay away and be in a good position when the counter attacks occurred. This seemed to work until 7 laps to go when Paul Curley (Gearworks), Keith Ford (Sunapee) and Peter Megdal (NEBC) attacked and stayed away until the last lap where Peter won by a bike length. Team BOB was doing most of the work trying to reel them back in as the other team mates of the break would block. There were a few surges with 4 to go and I kick it back a notch with 3 to go. I might have let up to much as I really had to work to move up with 2 to go and it was almost impossible to move up with 1 to go. On the last lap I saw a 191Hr at the top of the hill and the group was strung out in a line. I was in about 12-15th place so I put my head down and just told myself to bury myself until the end. I caught a couple of breaths while drafting on the downhill and might have waited one breath to long to start my sprint. I started to accelerate 50m before the last turn and stood at the apex. The rider to my left skipped his rear wheel out badly but I ignored him and kept the power down. I had a good jump and gained places quickly and continued my seated high RPM track sprint. It was a little crazy trying to pass people as everyone spread out across the road but I managed to make my way up to 6th at the line. I don’t know if I had the advantage of coming up in the riders draft but I had a 39.4mph Max. This is my fastest top speed in flat sprint.
So with this being my first real Crit since Stafford Springs I feel good about my fitness and finish and was reminded that it’s all about the last lap. In next weeks race in Nashua I need to be in the top 5 with 2 laps to go and protect my position no matter what. Stay tuned...
Monday, August 11, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
Brian, Jody and I raced Masters 45+ at Bow. The weather was threatening, and we did get wet. The P/1/2's who raced in the afternoon did not fare as well, as their race got cut way short due to severe weather. I'll post an abbreviated report here. Visit my blog if you are bored enough to read a looong report.
We kept the modified course from last year, which makes the climbing just a bit harder. We also were neutral up the bulk of the climb on the first lap. This suited me fine, as I did a hillclimb race the day before. However, as we approached the KOM wall, John Funk (Cycle Fitness) and Paul Wonsavage (Onion River Sports) bolted away from the pack. Funk had two potent teammates, Tom Officer and Mark Luzio, in the field to keep the rest of us in check while he rode away from us.
Funk and Wonsavage soon had nearly two minutes on us and were out of sight. But on the second lap, we brought Paul back into the pack. Luzio and Officer performed flawless blocking duty while Funk was still up the the road. It seemed nobody wanted to deal with this situation. So Alec Petro (Team Psycho) and I put in some double duty chase effort. We repeatedly came around the blockers to keep the pace going. This started to work. Soon we had Funk in our sights again. I wanted to finish the deal, but Bill Thompson (CCC/Keltic) suggested we let Funk simmer out there a little longer. Bill and I tried to get away at one point, but Officer and Luzio would have none of it.
As we came through the start/finish for our fourth and bell lap, we caught Funk. When we began the climb again, Petro rode off the front solo, surprisingly, since he contributed so much effort to the three lap chase. Nobody responded. Then we hit the KOM hill. This fragmented what little was left of our field. Funk, his teammates and one other gapped me at the KOM. I was toast. Fortunately, a couple other strong riders with me had some juice left and were able to close the gap. Now we just had Alec Petro off the front by 10-15 seconds with half a lap to go. Being at the front, as I too often am, I did not realize the pack sat up just as we began the big descent. I accidentally rolled off the front. With Petro disappearing and a non-responsive pack, I thought to myself I was not going to let Petro win this race by himself. I was quite sure my bridge attempt would be futile, but then again, in a sprint against those guys I was looking at like 15th place anyway. I had nothing to lose.
After insane hammering downhill at speeds approaching 50mph for 2-3 miles, I caught Petro. He was glad it was me, as the two of us put in disproportionate work to shut Funk's break down. We essentially worked together for much of the race already anyway. So we drilled the remaining 3+ miles of the race through all those turns and steep, punchy climbs, never completely out of sight of the chasing pack. But we made it. Crossing the intersection by the fire station, we saw nobody back. Then it got interesting. I can't sprint even if my life depended on it. I wasn't about to play cat and mouse games either and screw a sure thing up. So we just lined up and ramped it up side by side. Alec slowly inched past me. That was all I had. I was quite happy with second place. A chase group of about 20 came through just 16 seconds behind us. What is interesting, this is almost exactly how this race played out for me last year. Similar cast of characters, different finishing order for the others. Brian came through in 25th, Jody in 31st. It was an exciting race, and the brief downpour mitigated any overheating problems.
Monday, July 28, 2008
This is considered to be one of the hardest race courses on the New
England calendar, if not the hardest. The course is a 90 km (56
mile) loop, with the famous or infamous East Hawley Road climb (a
four mile steep climb) around mile 20 which continues with a rolling
course to finish after a long uphill (10 miles long) to Notchview
Julie and I participated in the women 3/4 race category and we were
aiming to have top placings in this event. Our strategy was to start
East Hawley on the second or third wheel, stick to a break (both of
us if possible) and work together up to the finish. In case one of
us would be in a break, the other one would cover attacks and block
any progress made in chasing down the break.
The first 20 miles of the race were uneventful - there were few
climbs and the course was mostly downhill. Julie and I stayed close
to each other. By mile 18, when Julie moved to the right of the pack
and close to the front, I quickly followed. Shortly after that and
just by the beginning of East Hawley Road, a rider from CRC NY
Velocity moved to the front. I was able to take her wheel and she
pulled me right to the front. Julie also followed. It was just what
The climb of East Hawley Road is unforgiving and quickly the pace set
by a Razorfish rider, followed by a CRC Radical Media rider began to
shed riders. By mile 2 or so up the climb there were only five of
us - the two above mentioned riders, the rider from CRC NYC
Velocity , Julie and myself. I was happy to see Julie and I were up
in that break together but unfortunately Julie could not hold on to
the pace of the break. Almost by the top of the climb, the break was
established - the CRC Razorfish rider, the CRC Radical Media rider
We got organized on a paceline and started working together pretty
quickly. We worked hard to keep the pace steady and fast. For the
next ten miles, we kept the paceline going. When we got to the
feedzone in mile 35, still we had no riders chasing us in sight. We
continued working steadily. Unfortunately I had a mechanical around
mile 40, just before we entered Route 9 (the final highway climb). I
had to get off the bike, and once I got back on, I started chasing.
I knew it would be hard to catch back because I knew they would
continue to work together.
For the first 8 miles of the 16 I had left, I kept a steady pace. Not
only did I want to get back to the break, I also didn't want to get
caught. The last 8 miles were grueling, it was very windy and the
climbs felt very tough. I was feeling sick to my stomach and felt
that the end was far away. I was also fearing I would get caught by
a group behind…although, I also knew that Julie would be covering for
During the last 6 miles I tried to focus, until the last climb where
I saw my husband Roger and my daughter Clara encouraging me. At that
point I knew I could do it, I knew also that the end was close. Soon
enough I saw the 1 km mark, I still looked back and saw no sign of a
chase. Finally I took a right onto the Notchview reservation and
another right to the finish line. I was happy to have been able to
hold to the third place.
A little after that, I saw the CRC NYC Velocity rider through the
finish line and soon after there came Julie. As we congratulated
each other, Julie said she thought she finished 6th; however I was
happy to see when I picked up my medal and prize that she finished
5th. We did very well, we worked very hard for the result and we are
very proud and happy.
Monday, July 14, 2008
The race started out, and we didn't have much of a plan, so I mostly just sat on the front because my brain doesn't function too well when I'm racing, and occasionally I would try and actually go fast, but that never really worked. I went for one prime, and discovered that I still can't sprint, so I just rode around on the front again and pulled the field some more. Then I managed to get myself boxed out on the hill on the last lap behind two girls who felt the need to exchange some words and elbows over some swerving, sprinted back up to the field, got ridden onto the sidewalk by the giant NEBCer, hopped back over the curb, sprinted down the hill to catch back on, and hit the final turn at the back of the pack. Girls start sprinting and its like I'm standing still, I might have even coasted over the line. But, Julie ended up 3rd! Go Julie!
Despite all that, I had a good time. Who'd'a thunk it?? I might be back to do another crit before the summer is up... but don't hold your breath! I can't break my streak of more than one race a year, after all...
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Just as a background- The masters field was somewhat smaller than usual, for reasons I cannot explain- Masters Nationals are at the same time, but many big guns who didn't come here were not on the rosters at Nationals either. In any case, as a little "throw the salt on the wound" tactic, just at the last minute, Mark / Frank McCormack, Tobi Shultze, Troy Kimball, AND Roger Aspholm sign up at the pre-reg deadline. For IBC, we had Brian, Jody, John Fennel, and me.
TT-I love listening to the parking lot/warm up/starting line/portapotty chatter at epic races. This is one where it's just part of the club to complain about the course. Everyone has something to gripe about, and I always answer like Letterman would, which is "just send another angry letter from Lou Rawls". I suppose people don't like the climbing, or the poor road surface, or the rain. Not ever having even seen the course before, I didn't know what to expect, so I just brought the road bike (Sorry TT bike-you still get to be the weekly tempo workout bike for now).
I'm glad I did- Eddy B always says that if there are hills, go light- no argument. I think I would have suffered like mad on the TT bike, especially since I only have 52 tooth chainring on the front. BTW- that reminds me- Eddy B also likes to remind people that in a course like this, you CAN switch bikes mid-race...yes- you can have someone standing by at the top of the climb and you can just hop off a la cyclocross and hop on the TT bike for the rest of it. I don't know if anyone at Fitchburg did it, but that would have been cool to watch. Anyway, I finished in the middle of the pack, which is better than usual for me- In the past, I would fall about 2/3 down the list, so this was improvement.
RR- Rain. The previous night's news did not predict this, and I came in a t-shirt/shorts. I was impressed with the fact that 99% of the rest of the racers had full winter gear- Lordy! It's July, for crying out loud! Are you all that anal when you travel? I kept thinking, "You know, it really can't rain THAT hard for too long". And like that, the bulk of the rain was over by our start time. When I thought about it, that was great- All my previous Fitchburg RR's entailed some level of a Bataan Death March through 90 degree heat. John decided he didn't want a feed, because he wasn't planning on staying with the field for too long. I wonder if carrying three bottles had anything to do with that...As such, this race seemed just so short to me-No breaks, and because of the cooler temp, I was able to take each climb up Princeton with relative ease. For every descent, I think I was DFL, because I am just that much of a chicken (although it's a mile long straight descent, it curves to the left somewhat in the middle, and when the road is wet, at 50+ mph, I experienced some extreme peristalsis each time). SO- that meant that the race would be determined on the final ascent up the access road-Sure enough, the big guns were up at the front, and they took off- I was about 30th going into the climb, and just kept passing guys, and almost catching a group of 7-8 right at the end- POOPY! Had I placed myself further up, I think I could have attained a top 10 placing. In the end, I got 18th, moving me up to 27th overall. Jody and Brian stuck it out until the last ascent to Princeton, where they got split, but made it up handily. As expected, it was Aspholm, McCormack, and Tom Francis (good for him!) on the podium.
Circuit race-OK- I had no aspirations to flash my 27th to first in a circuit race which is blazingly fast with a KOM point sprint on every other lap- BUT-the leaders are all watching each other- I was hoping for what I call the anonymous getaway-grab a group of strong non-contenders with me in a break, and hope for the best. In fact, in the first lap, I found Matt Kressy and told him my plan. With 3 to go, (not a sprint lap), I peeled off the front, and at the top of the climb, I found Matt with me...but NO ONE ELSE! Oh God, I thought- this will be painful-we made it up to the next climb with a 10 second gap, and argued with each other that the other should take the points (I let Matt take it, he pulled more!), and then Troy Kimball caught us, and SAT UP! Well that was it, so it turned out to be a field finish- I have no idea where I finished, but it was in the middle. It was one of those races where at the end of the climb, you look back to see that the pack has shrunken another 10 guys-I don't know how many finished in the end...
Has anyone noticed that I'm writing this BEFORE the crit? That's because I'm doing Wells Ave. tomorrow! That's right- Explain to me why I should drive another hour there and back to do a roller-derby crashfest of a course so that I can preserve my 27th GC place? Thank you. In the end, although I wasn't a contender overall, I performed better than any other Fitchburg of past, so I got that going for me. Also, I got to meet Lizette from the women's 3 squad, que estaba bueno, por que ahora tengo una otra personna quien puedo hablar en espanol. Que suerte!
Monday, June 30, 2008
Translation: I've gone crazy. Like you didn't know that already.
Yesterday's double hit at the BOLOCO Grand Prix in Newton was a fun time.
Hit #1 was the 5K running (yes - running) race at Noon. The organizer had some issues with registration and other organization (first year issues, perhaps?) but the race went off at 12:30pm. I was near the front and hit it when the whistle blew.
I should not have hit it so hard. I was running a 5:30 pace. After about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile I pulled the ripcord. No way I could sustain that and still have any ability to climb on a bike afterwards. I ran about 7:30 pace the rest of the race and came in around 21-22 minutes I think.
After wiping the gobs and gobs of sweat off, I kitted up and lined up with the Cat 4s. Me, John and Zak representing for IBC.
The plan: Zak attacks up the hills to push the pace and tire others out, while John save himself for the spring finish. I was to lead John out (if possible) or at least get him to a good position on the last lap. this wasn't even necessary as John took a flyer on the last turn and stuck it until about 25 meters to the line.
I tootled in mid-pack in the thirties. Satisfied with my daily double and now ready for what is most likely my last Fitchburg Longsjo race.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Julie seems to be too busy to do this, so I will. We had a great time up in Londonderry this Thursday. About a dozen women from a variety of clubs and locations ranging from Boston to Montpellier, VT showed up to get a taste of track racing. Mark Bowen of NEBC and NEV led the instruction and shortly had everyone feeling pretty comfortable on their brakeless, fixed gear bikes. Mike Troisi and I helped out. Once we had the rules of track racing down, we started racing. We ran a scratch, points, miss and out, match sprint, and an australian pursuit. Everyone seemed to have a great time and we had a hard time getting them off the bikes. But after 3 hours of racing, we fired up the grill and that did the trick. I've attached a picture of the track bike I put together as a loaner just to give you a look at what was considered the prettiest bike of the evening. Giulia was the lucky rider.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Four IBC masters lined up Sunday morning in soupy conditions. It was John Laupheimer, Brian Anderson, Kevin Young and myself. The dew point must have been 70F. I do worse than most in muggy conditions, so I was having a bit of a panic attack at the start, having brought only two water bottles to the race. Some riders were carrying four. It was 50's and drizzling when I left home in New Hampshire at 5:30am.
The modified course had us starting up Constitution Hill neutral (last year's finishing climb). Lap two would then go up this beast race pace. The finish was moved to in front of registration, a big ring sprint kind of deal, if there was anybody left in the field to sprint against.
Early in the first lap, at least 5 or 6 guys got off the front. I was playing this race a little more conservatively than the last couple, so I was buried in the field when this occurred. With prominent teams represented, the blocking was overt. We coasted down every little hill and soft pedaled the climbs. This was nuts. Surely there were other teams or individuals that weren't ready to throw in the towel just yet. I wasn't. Myself and Brian started taking some good pulls. This motivated others to come around the blockers, especially that persistent Deno's guy that kept getting in the way. Paul Wonsavage (Onion River Sports) put in some serious chase effort too. As we got to the steep pitches in climb three, we shut the break down. I think Bill Thompson (CCC/Keltic), Tom Luzio (Deno's), maybe Dave Kellogg (Arc en Ciel) and others were in this initial break.
After some serious descending at 50mph, we hit the KOM blip on the way down. This was nasty, as you go from full tuck to all-out grind in seconds. I actually led the field almost all the way up this 200+ft rise. With John Funk (Cycle Fitness) breathing in my right ear, I had no intentions of going for the KOM. I just wanted some margin cresting the top, as I suspected a split could form there. It didn't. I did not feel so good after this climb - a bit nauseated from over heating. I was almost through my water already, and we weren't even half way through the race.
Next up was Constitution Hill. This was the hill I believed before the race would be the main selector. What was left of our field at this point (30 guys?) hit it hard. About a third of the way up, my thermal cork popped. I was getting abdominal cramps from overheating. Past experience tells me that muscular cramping is just around the corner when this happens. I seriously contemplated dropping out at this point before having a complete meltdown. I have never willingly dropped out of a race though, so I became relegated to the fact I was not going to make the selection on this hill. I was amazed how nimble Gerry Clapper (Benidorm) and Dzmitry Buben (CCB) came flying past me to join Funk and others as they pulled away. I was in good company though with Todd Buckley (Arc en Ciel), Joe Rano (Bike Alley), Mark Luzio (Cycle Fitness) and others. But the deal was, most of these guys had someone up in the break, so they weren't going to work too hard.
This pretty much shut my race down. With Funk, Buben, Clapper, Eric Pearce (Bethel) and a couple others in the break, they would surely be gone. In my group, the first chase group, guys bridged up to us over the next several miles. Our pace was relaxed. Then we'd hit the next climb and shell a few. After climb three, I think we were down to less than 12 guys. I figured if I can just hold off totally seizing up, I might make top 2o. Then we hit the KOM hill again. I had so many muscles cramping in my legs I thought I was going to fall over like I did at the Everest Challenge race last year. There were several riders from other fields on the side of the road here that were cramped up. Mark Luzio was setting the initial pace up this little prick of a climb. I told myself if I can just make the summit, I should be able to finish the race. I cleared the top without a cataclysmic meltdown with Luzio, Tom Officer (also Cycle Fitness) and one other rider with a small split behind us. The split didn't last long though. I certainly had nothing left to contribute to the effort. I was looking for wheels to sling my bungee cord on to.
When we got to the bottom we have a couple miles of flat to the finish. Buckley launched early here and held a slim gap to the finish. There were a couple other fliers here, but we pretty much came together making the corner into the finishing area. Officer made a nice attempt and gave me a great wheel to be on until about the 200m sign. Then I went. I'm pretty sure I was first from the group to cross the line, a few seconds behind Buckley who launched earlier.
We had conflicting reports of how many were in the lead group. We heard 4, 5, and 7. So I figured I made top 10. But when preliminary results went up, I was not in the top 10. I protested, and apparently they missed me. They revised the results showing me as 9th. I'll take it for a race I nearly abandoned. My legs were so messed up I couldn't even walk right. I drank 4 bottles of water, 1 lemonade, and 1 chocolate milk at the finish area. I drank more when I got down to my car.
Seeing the results now on bikereg, it looks like the front group fragmented pretty good too, with riders crossing in one'zees and two'zees. They had 5 minutes on us though. I surely would have imploded had I tried to stay with them on Constitution Hill. Thanks to help from Brian, IBC helped shut down what looked like a very promising break in the first lap.
Turned out to be a decent race for me, but the day was a bit stressful overall. I was going to comment on how well the course was marshalled, specifically about the enthusiastic young ladies marshalling many corners. But after seeing the attention CTodd drew from his last post, I will reserve my comments.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I started in the "19 mph" group. We wound through at a leisurely 16mph and not until we reached Arlington heights did we get to a 19mph speed. The group had to have been about 50 or so riders large. Once we got out to Concord/Carlisle things were moving a lot faster than 19mph. 22-3mph more like it. Not that I was having trouble, but I thought if we were to cruise at 19mph or another 120 miles it might be good to not be hammering, right? We kept on cruising around the 22-24mph mark until the first water stop at 46miles. Much needed as my water bottles were empty and I didn't have too much food. Thanks to Ciclsmo Classico for sponsoring and working that water stop.
My nutrition strategy wasn't too well thought out for this ride. With planned stops at 46 and 108 miles I figured I could stick wheel I needed in my back pockets and that would suffice. Hah ha ha.
Upon departing the waterstop there was a really really nice climb. Pretty gentle in grade and a little twisty with a lot of shade. I got to the front to set the pace for the group. This way there was not going to be any 20+ speeds going uphill on my pull! I kept it smooth and steady for just about the whole way up. At the top I found that I was in a group of about 10 with some triathletes. The next 10 miles were fairly flat and this group was in a paceline ranging from 26-35mph. It was nuts. Triathletes can certainly hammer. Somehow I found myself pulling at 30mph on a flat! I couldn't believe it. There was one woman triathlete in the group and I must say, the view from her draft was quite delightful.
Anyway, I started feeling hungry, and noticed my waterbottles were near empty and the next rest stop was still ~25 miles away. Ooof. We came upon a major intersection and there was a pretty large Mobil gas station. It looked like a lot of other riders had the same thing because you'd have thought it was a water stop! I said goodbye to the group (and the um, "scenery") to grab some food and get more liquids.
I walked into the store and in my low-blood-glucose state I didn't get enough liquids! One vitamin water, 3 bars. That's it. I needed two more bottles of liquid. I knew I had some miles before the next rest stop, I just didn't know what was to come next on the ride.
I took off initially with a group of guys but quickly left them. I think they were in the "sweet 16 group" because pulling on a flat at 18mph found me hundreds of meters ahead. I figured "oh well" and would take the next 20 miles on my own and catch up with folks at waterstop #2. I found myself in various groups of hammerheads and not-so-hammerheads until Mile 89 hit.
Mile 89 hit with a vengeance. A sharp right hand turn and then it was up, up, up. Steeper than the last climb and of course I had 1/4 of one water bottle with anything in it. It was around 1pm and the sun was HOT. This climb offered little shade although there was some overcast in the clouds the sweat was pouring off me. I was dehydrated. Badly.
I suffered like a dog, but I wasn't the only one. Bodies were everywhere. People walking their bikes, stopping at the side to rest in the shade, etc. Once over the major climb, there was a van with a guy advising riders to slow for a nasty intersection. I asked, no begged, for water and thankfully he had a gallon or so to share. That helped, but the damage was done and recovery would be difficult, eve with 40-50 miles to go. Thankfully, I found a small group to ride with, er.. draft off of, to waterstop #2.
Waterstop #2 was quite large, and offered a vast array of goodies, with one problem. Very little water. I was able to get a cup of water and refill one waterbottle with powerade, but that was it. "Five to ten minutes more water will be here," I heard that for about 20-30 minutes. I left the stop with the MRC boys and rode the blue train until about 10 miles to go when I got dropped up a hill. It was clear I was cooked. What I found amazing was that even in this state I could crank it up to 22mph on the flats.Who knew I had that in me?? Climbs were a different story because they needed real power and any power I had left was waning due to the dehydration.
Crossing the covered bridge into Vermont was a sigh of relief, only a couple of miles left! I turned into the brewery and crossed the line. I was supposed to drop my bike off, pick up my finishers t-shirt and check in, but no. I went straight for the water table. I downed about three 12 once vitamin waters in about 10 minutes and I ate a bagel. I sat at a picnic table while the band started its set and just thought how amazing the ride was. Epic almost. I wished I had prepared better nutritionally, but it was a GREAT 148 miles. I would highly recommend this ride. It was incredibly well organized, well marked and even though I signed up my myself found plenty of riders to share in the suffering with.
I got myself showered up (after waiting quite a long time inline) then went and filled my tummy with barbecue. It started raining as Richard Fries was throwing out schwag to the crowd. At least the rain held off until the end. I packed my self up, brought my bike to the truck and hopped on the bus ride back to Boston. This morning I calculated just how many calories I burned in the 8.5 hours I spent on the bike. If that's a grand tour-like stage, I wonder what it's like to have to do that day-after-day for three weeks straight?
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Bike racers! This is your lucky day! This Sunday, Jess and I are going to be selling our cupcakes/works of art at the Wells Ave race, and you can be there to buy them. The scoop is this: they put skiing nationals out in Anchorage, AK, next January, and both Jess and I are going to race there. Because there is no point to being wicked fast on skis if you can't race against the best in the country to prove it! Just plane tickets are upwards of $800 right now, and with gas prices the way they are, they won't get much lower. So, we're trying to raise some money to get ourselves way up north this winter.
This weekend is our "pilot" bakesale--we'll give out some cupcake premes, we'll be set up right next to registration, we'll have coffee, scones, and healthy muffins for the health-conscious racers, and we'll have boozy, sugary, creations from heaven for everyone else. We'll be there from ~10am-noon, approximately, and if this is a good idea, we (or maybe just me, since Jess lives in Rochester and was just here for a conference) could make appearances throughout the summer.
Our list of goodies, rather tentatively, is as follows:
-Car-bomb Cupcakes (Guinness cake with Bailey's frosting)
-Vegan Lemon Cupcakes
-Cookies and Cream Cupcakes (possibly)
-Sparkling Cranberry Gem Cookies
-Chocolate Chip Cookies
-Soft Pretzels (possibly)
-Healthy post-race Recovery Muffins
-Cinnamon rolls (possibly)
See you there! (and if you have any special requests, you can leave them in the comments)
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
My race went significantly better than my race here last year, which was my first MTB race ever, and probably the fifth time I'd ever ridden that mountain bike, which came after a very long hiatus after my first mt bike was stolen. Long story short, last year I endoed twice in my warmup, four times in the race, hit two trees, and crashed rather painfully off a bridge. Suffice it to say I was not smiling at the end. Anyway, this year was great. I only crashed once in my warmup, stayed upright on all the bridges, and had multiple instances during the race when I found myself thinking, "this is FUN!" Now thats the way a race should be!
I guess if I rode my bike more these things would get easier, but at least I snuck onto the podium this time, second overall and second in my age class. Yes, there were more than two of us!
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
A strong masters contingent raced Sunapee on Saturday - Brett, Jody, Kevin, Brian and myself. Many of the usual suspects from CCC/Keltic, Cycle Fitness, Bethel Cycle and other teams were there. The race was lively, with attacks starting right away coming out of the rotary. Brett and I participated in many of these. It seemed the rest of the field wanted a piece of this action too, and nothing could get away.
On back side of first lap, Tom Butler (CCC/Keltic) and I got a small break going in the hilly section. We got caught just before the long, steep hill. Bad situation. I nearly got shelled right off the back. I licked my wounds in the field for a while, having already spent too much time at the front of the race.
As we finished the first lap, two riders got a sizable gap. Chase efforts were disorganized at best. Then Brett, Brian, myself and one other rider came up to the front with an agenda. We kept a nice 4-man tempo paced rotation going to bring the gap down. By the time we reached Rt 11, the break was put out of business. The IBC effort here was a nice piece of work.
A number of additional attacks ensued on Rt 11, with Tom Officer (Cycle Fitness) making what looked like a promising move with two others. Not sure what happened with that one, as it ended in some strong words being exchanged. Cresting the big hill on Rt 11, I found myself behind a split with several strong riders cresting the hill ahead of me. Those stronger guys did not seem to have any interest in driving a group of 10-12 riders, so we soon bridged back together. I was cooked by this point, foolishly playing way too many games at the front of the field.
On back side of second and final lap, Randy Kirk (Cycle Fitness) strongly surged off the front, growing a sizable gap on the field as we merged onto Rt 103. There seemed to be no response from field. I was quite certain Randy had the win. I decided on last pitch of stair step climb to rotary to launch off the front. The field let me go. I might have had a 10 second gap cresting the hill, 20-30 seconds behind Randy, going for 2nd place. I knew my chances were slim however, as my matchbook was empty. Sure enough, as I approached the rotary, I was swarmed. The best I could do at this point was limp up to the finish line. Turns out Tom Butler won, as Randy Kirk was swarmed in the last meters too. So it turned into a bunch finish with 37 riders given the same time. I finished 19th, and Kevin was down just a couple spots from me. In discussion after the race, a shift in strategy may be required to capture stronger finishes for our team. At Sunapee, a lot of the work IBC put in benefited other teams.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Yes. It is true. My running shoes are getting less and less use these days. I raced Wells Ave. for the 3rd time this morning. Unlike Mike, John and Marvin, I was too chicken to race the A field. I saw the Slipstream kit and became a wuss. (OK, really I didn't have the time...) Considering my training consists of an occaional run and a 25 mile (one way) commute to work on the nice-weather days, I have very little mileage in my legs and no "real" training.
Intensity? You're funny!
30 minute intervals? Are you kidding me?!
The B race was probably the largest field I've seen at Wells Ave: 100 riders or more. They said it was "full" and they weren't kidding. I started at the back with Ms. Giulia and soon realized just how many people there were in this field! Hannah-bannana and Julie-your-cruise-director rounded out the IBC representation.
Since I was near the back - I started clawing my way up to the front. Once there, the competitive instinct takes over. Who cares if I haven't been training? Somehow, I had the juice to chase down a break or three as well as try twice (thrice?) to attack and make a break. After each attempt I hid in the middle of the pack to recover. This B race was a little faster than the typical B race. Typically B races are ~24mph. Today we were ranging 24-28mph with the occasional 22mph post-prime lull. The last 5 laps were 28-30mph though. We were cookin'. With gas!
Mysteriously, I had myself setup pretty well on those last few laps. Coming into the home stretch I was maybe 5th or 7th wheel with a perfect line on the inside.
Remember the part about no intensity and no intervals?
About 60 meters from the line my legs quit..
"I CAN'T DO IT CAP'N!! I JUST DON'T HAVE THA JUICE!!"
..and I floundered across the line somewhere in the top 15 or so. Maybe top 20. Maybe not. Who's counting anyway? Its just Wells Ave!
I guess I should start training, huh?
The pace was fairly standard Wells' A race for the first 5 laps (26-27 mph). I'm just sitting in, thinking about how bad i've been feeling all week getting over a cold/allergies, and promised myself "I'm just sitting in". After about 10 laps, i notice that the S-Ch rider isn't all that intrigued about setting the pace for everyone. A bunch of breaks go away, somme big, some small. I get tired of weaving around the back of the field so I bridge up to the lead group of about 20 guys. they're just putzing along and soon we're caught. Maybe it was the ease to which i bridged to that group, but against my own best advice my limbic system over-took my rationale (as it always does during racing) and i thought..."maybe i don't feel so bad"....let's look for a move. The S-Ch guy goes...i grab his wheels he pulls me for about 200 m, i pull though...he sits up. I'm clearly not the guy he wanted to go with him on the big move.
Halfway prime comes and goes and another 20 rider break goes up the road with about 5 sec over the field. then, from what i remember, like a shot out of hell Mike Norton comes up the left side of the finishing stretch and i grab his wheel. We promptly catch the break in short order, and next thing i know it's me, Mike, S-Ch man, a sakonet rider, and about 5 other guys and we go right past them. I took a quick look back and noone was chasing us. Ambivalence, or accepting fate? i don't know, but the field let the strongest dude in the pack go up the road, and with about 18 laps or so to go we're off and i'm sitting in what will be the winning break-away with a S-Ch rider. Where the hell am I? Not on earth clearly.
Out of no fewer than 120+ races i've done, I've been in about 10 break aways my whole life. 9 of them went nowhere. One ended up with me placing 6th. this one however was made to stick. We spent the next 30 min setting a decent tempo, taking turns, with a bit of discoordinated attacking going on from some of the riders, but all in all a manageable pace. At about 5 to go guys are starting to miss pulls and i'm sensing a move. S-Ch rider goes with sakonnet...we cover it. 2 to go and S-Ch says good bye. Thing about it was, his "jump" was not that explosive...but after 30 min of FTP level riding he ever so slowly just outpaced us and rode the last 2 laps solo. We fought it out and in the end i crossed the line last in the break...eighth or something. I've finished better at wells, but man did i turn myself inside out to get that spot today. Probably could have moved up some places but i tried to chase down the sakonett guy on the last lap and he toasted me...so i sat up in the final turn and cruised across.
Final stats for the breakaway: 30 mins, 13 miles, 26.5 mph, 301 watts avg, 500 kcal, 50 TSS.
The beauty of this was that is was exactly at my FTP, and i'd been doing 30 min intervals for the past 2months at about that level so i was right in my zone. any harder and i would have had to throw up :-) thanks for holding it steady guys.
So, not to let the air out, but turns out it wasn't a UCI pro (no sh*t)...but it was however, Kirk Carlsen one of the S-Ch U23 team riders:http://www.slipstreamsports.com/felt-vmg-u23-team/?action=detail&bio_id=94 . He won Sunappe yesterday as well. So, not pro-tour yet, but a hell of strong dude who was clearly way ahead of everyone else in the field. Not sure what i was doing in a break with him but like Kevin McHale said: "even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while".
Friday, May 16, 2008
I got to the race course later than ideal, like, maybe 40 mins before the start. This didn’t faze me too much though, as I barely have enough in the tank to finish these races, let alone warm up. When you combined all of the expert women (I was racing expert women 35+), along with the pro/semi-pros we start with, we had a decently big field, maybe 16 or so. (I only combine numbers for the purposes of feeling good about having many women on the start line; I then make a clean and absolute distinction with the pros, since they are much faster than me.) My new-found strategy is not to go out ridiculously hard and blow up within five minutes -- after several years racing, I’ve reached this novel conclusion. This meant that I saw Linnea for approximately 30 seconds before she left me in the dust (or was it mud?), next to be seen at the water hose after the race.
The course, as I said, was essentially a rutted out ATV course. But it had fast berms, sketchy bridge crossings, at least if taken at speed, morasses of mud, several small rock gardens, and these especially fun sections where all you could see was an expansive brown pond, with who knew what beneath? My strategy there was to go as fast as I dared, hold on tight, and pray. That didn’t always work. My race went decently well anyway, I think better than last year, though I never made a completely clean lap. I’m pretty sure I rode everything clean at least once though. I ended up 4/7 in my group (we had a couple of DNFs just to make my results look worse, but I was ahead of them anyway, honest).
I consulted the boys’ voluminous blogs and while I may not have read every word I think everyone enjoyed the course. Thom had a smokin' fast race (despite my best efforts to derail him when he passed me) and ended up 2nd in the PRO men, which came down to a “sprint” (such as one sprints on single-speed mtbs) finish. Linnea won her (expert young chicks) race handily and also, I’m glad to note, beat my nemesis (I am about 1/15 in beating her myself, so it’s best if Linnea does it for me). Colin had an awesome race but for the fact that he had to run some large portion of it for mechanical reasons, but still ended up about halfway through the young expert men.
Next up: Gloucester Grind or Coyote Hill.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Alex, serving up some dust
George Shaw putting the hurt on
Me (Thom P.) bemusedly occupying the third step of the podium.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I kicked off my road racing season at Sturbridge, personally very pleased to find the race course so transformed that the 17mile loop ended with a 3mile stair-like climb rather than the infamous crash-prone downhill sprint to the finish. There were over 30 women starters, many of which included teams from CT, NY, and NJ. I was the sole IBCer for this race, but not so lonely as the chatting through 4-mile neutral start up the climb allowed some time to get reacquainted with friendly riders I knew well last season (including CT women who rode solo last year but banded this year as CVC-Subaru). The official start/finish was at the top of the climb. Already winded from the neutral start, the field got off to a slow but relaxed start. The speed picked as we coursed through descents, and then through a set of rollers. This was a fun course! CVC-Subaru stepped on the gas by launching a series of well-timed attacks, just before reaching the climb again. By the time we reached the top, there was a woman (EPS/Riptide) off the front a bit and the remaining peloton had been shaved by half. Through the 2nd lap, a dozen or so of us maintained the gap by working together and keeping a good tempo. Towards the end though, we allowed one NCC woman to pull us to the base of the final climb. Well that NCC'er had more than enough to jump and take the lead through the climb for a well-deserved victory. A second woman jumped at the base, and I quickly realized that I missed an opportunity to get on her wheel. I couldn't mend the gap and so I paced up the remaining hill amid a cluster of women, pacing myself and waiting for an opportunity as we approached the finish. At the sight of the 200m marker, I jumped and pedaled through the burn, fighting for a 3rd place finish. I was pleased with my season opener, and look forward to working on those uphill finishes.
I also want to give a big thumbs up to the promoter (MN) on a safe & well-organized race. There were many volunteers (Thank you!). Evidently, safety was a priority. The course was fun and road quality good; it had few turns and they were well marshaled; there were police & EMS; and the pace vehicle drivers knew what they were doing. The W3/4 field also had SRAM neutral support. I look forward to racing these events again next year.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
I'm on a rest week but Little Stevie Weller wanted me to keep my legs fresh. So I decided to race the 1938 Golden Arrow in full vintage wool in the CBTT. A full race report would be extremely boring, but let me just say those guys in the 30's were real men! I managed 22 miles per hour which frankly surprised the hell out of me. It's like driving a tank in the Ardenne. Think about 30 pounds of bike and 37 mm 26in tires and all steel-brake levers, handlebars, cranks, hubs, etc. Something I only need to do once. If I get a picture later, I'll post it. Expect to see me in lycra and carbon from now on-fo sho.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
My ski coach in college had a really good point. "Why would anyone want to come to a ski race? We just run around in the woods in funny clothing". Well, orienteering is even closer to that extreme (of running around in the woods in funny clothing). Normally, the competitor is given a map, they look at the map incredibly briefly and then they disappear into the woods for some amount of time, usually between 30-60 minutes, before coming back into view- sweatier, muddier, and more tired looking than before. Quite the spectator sport!
Well, this weekend was different. This weekend was the club relay championships in Rochester, NY (my hometown). There were eight spectator controls (spectator controls being flags that the spectators can see) in a big field, and the runners popped in and out of the woods many times, to the delight of my team, which had a megaphone and was putting it to good use in the heckling department. I was on the CSU "A" team, with Brendan Shields, Peter Gagarin, and Ross Smith, and we ended up 2nd! I had the fastest female split on my leg, but it was very much a runner's course, and I grew up a mile away from that park, so I know it quite well.
Silver medalists! Ross, Brendan, me, and Peter.
Sorry, I know this isn't a bike race report, but, I guess I lead a more varied lifestyle than just riding bikes. It means I ride bikes slower, but I also know how to not get lost when running in the woods...
Letchworth gorge, the site of the race on day 1.
Monday, April 14, 2008
IBC MTB Posse in Effect
The IBC MTB kids were out there in the burning sun this past weekend down in Middlebury, CT at the Root 66 Hopbrook Dam series opener. The big news was Linnea's win in the Expert 12-34 category, she got herself the series leader's jersey and a sweet set of Mavic wheels. Colin was 4th in the ultra competitive Expert 19-29 category, actually beating at least one Semi-Pro (did somebody say "Upgrade"?). George took 16th in a 50 rider strong sandbagger ridden 30-39 sport class, and I (Thom P.) took 6th in the Pro/Semi-Pro's, hating life on a geared bike. This posse's got velocity, so look for more results soon!
Friday, March 21, 2008
Since returning from Europe, I've been bouncing around New England like nobody's business. I did three marathons this year (ski marathons, that is), the Craftsbury Marathon (9th), Rangeley Marathon (5th), and Sugarloaf Marathon (1st). Those were hard, maybe three of them in one season was a little much. I got to be a wax tech at the J2 championships and the Eastern Highschool Championships as a CSU (Cambridge Sports Union) coach for the state of Massachusetts, which was pretty cool. I did some more ski-o races round here, and cleaned up pretty well in those, too. The coolest race I've done post-Switzerland was the Ski to the Clouds race, which is a 10km freestyle race that finishes with 6km of climbing up the Mount Washington Auto Road. Coming down was... interesting! Enough words, I'll leave you with some pictures. Here's to sunny days!
This is the route up mt. Washington... coolest garmin picture ever!!
Winning the Sugarloaf marathon.
The point-to-point Craftsbury Marathon was probably the most difficult race I did all year in terms of conditions. I made some poor choices when it came to kick wax and struggled through 50km with no kick.
Instructing skiers at New England Women's XC Ski Day.
A little bit of this kind of skiing...
The goal of every coach should be to scare their skiers into looking possessed.
A PRO waxing setup.
Powering through to 7th place in this sprint race.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Friday - we did a bunch of jumps, starts and some intervals late in the afternoon. Steve Hill (Masters World Champ & Elite Kilo Champ) took the time to talk and I, for one, love his stories. He can be hilarious and he's a great story teller.
In the evening, we got together at On the Border restaurant to go over his Mental Training presentation. While I won't share anything on this blog, you've got to show up at a camp to listen to this one. I can say that it's making a huge difference in the way I think (and I thought I was pretty good at it before....) :D
Saturday - we all went to Gold's Gym in San Jose. They have this wood/rubber platform for olympic style lifting, sweet! We all went through the lifts. I've picked up some tips on how to improve my form as well.
In the afternoon, we did a bit of intervals. In the night, we had pizza while Steve talked about sprints training. I can say that I've probably saved about 1/2 year of experience by just listening to him talk about tips, methods and strategies.
Sunday - we did motorpacing efforts and had lunch afterwards.
Weather was gorgeous.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Most of you won't remember Grace Jones, but she had Diane Fortini's USCF job 20 odd years ago. She died of cancer several years ago. She had a cycling clothing company called Jones Cyclewear. They invented the skinsuit. In any case, Grace's daughters have restarted the business as Jones wear, selling all wool clothing. I got myself a pair of wool knickers and a jersey to wear w/ the Golden Arrow. Here I am decked out in full retro gear, including Adidas toe stap cleated shoes. The bike rides remarkably nicely. Photo by Madeleine,
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
I'm back from Tucson. Happy to see my wife, daughter, and cats but not snow. I like it warm. There is no getting around it. I was there for 2 weeks, rode nearly 900 miles and had a blast besides too many evenings sitting in my room watching Law and Order re-runs. I had all these notions of going to see movies that my wife didn't want to see at night, but after 5-6 hours on the bike, I never made it. There are some great rides in Tucson-Mt. Lemmon (8600ft, 21 mile climb,) Maderos Canyon (6000 ft, 13 mile climb), and Sonaita (116 miles, 5000 feet, 30 odd miles of absolutely nothing but desert.) I don't have many pictures because all the rides were long and involved altitude changes with temps changing from 70 to high 30's. So my jersey had all my clothes in it as well as 1000 calories and an extra water bottle. But the photo was taken at Maderos Canyon at 6000 feet w/ my cell phone. I'm thinking of renting a condo for Jan/Feb/Mar next year and making multiple trips. Anyone wanting to use it would be welcome.
Monday, March 3, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Monday, February 4, 2008
Well, I finally finished it. It's very cool, actually rides something like a bicycle (69 degree angles,) and shifts (which was an open question.) I hope to get the brakes off for a few laps at the track this summer. It will sit and wait for better roads for now. Trying to convince my wife it is art and can go in the living room. Not having much luck.