Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A staggering but good wrap up to the year

Yesterday I put in what will be my last - or maybe next to last depending on how motivated I am today and tomorrow - ride of the year.

I don't know if yesterday's ride was a metaphor of some sort. I suspect it was a just a series of events that occurred on the same day. I don't like to make things out to be more than they are. Suffice it to say though, yesterday's ride was not the smoothest ever.

It started out OK - took a little bit to get my butt out of the PJs into some spandex and out the door. This isn't really anything unusual - like I've said before often the hardest part of my ride is the part between the couch and the saddle.

I got into the car and found an empty tank of gas. Much less stressful since that invisible hand has decided to push prices down to $1.52/gallon. When I was gassing up at the local mom&pop petrol station I noticed that my saddle wasn't quite straight. Turns out that some time in the past week or so I suspect my fat ass bent one of the rails on my saddle. I'm not really sure what happened, but the saddle was so badly off kilter that had I ridden on it I suspect I would have experienced some pretty nasty bio-mechanical issues.

So I swung home and after a failed attempt at straightening the rails with a pair of pliers I decided that I needed to replace the saddle with one that was sitting in the garage. After about 10 minutes of futzing (btw: spell check doesn't flag "futzing" ... interesting) around with a box-end wrench in the corner of the garage I got the new saddle off the seatpost it was on in the garage and hauled it out to the car and tossed it on the Jake.

So I got the bike all squared and headed back towards the Carderrock Recreation area. After missing a couple turns I finally ended up where I was supposed to be. I got the garmin on the bike, the camelback on my back and headed out for the trail.

Well I found the wrong trail. I read something online that said there was a short trail that headed to the towpath. I found a short trail. Unfortunately it was the wrong short trail. Turned out it was the billy-goat trail. Up and down, craggy and narrow. I rode on the trail for a few yards and it finally got so narrow that I had to shoulder the bike. I hit a point where the trail switched from leaves and brush to rock. In my mountain biking shoes I attempted to venture over the rocks. This was a mistake.

The KonaShoes with plastic tread don't have a lot of "grippiness." In fact they have zero grippiness - they can dig into the mud, but they don't do dick to keep your feet under you on a slick rock. So it was - whats the phrase - ass over teakettle - for me - feet in the air, bike flying off the trail and my coccyx landing square on million year old rock. It hurt. Jumping up and down bouncing around hurt. Burn the roof of your mouth on a piece of pizza straight out of the oven hurt. Fortunately the hurt didn't last forever. I was able to shake it off - hobble down the trail and get to the towpath. It still hurts a bit today, but its going to get better.

After that the ride went really well. Other than having to navigate through a zillion people aimlessly wandering around the greater Great Falls area on their day off it was a good ride. The out was harder than the back because it was slightly up hill and into the wind and I probably need to swap the tires out for something with a little less tread - but all in all a great ride.

I'm getting very excited about the training season for the C&O Towpath ride. The first training ride on the trail has been set for January 11th and I'll be spinning down at Hains Point on the 1st.

The towpath ride is an extremely exciting challenge. It's a huge ride and is going to require me focus on building my endurance and keeping a sharp eye on my training. I feel like I am up for it and it looks like I have a good crew of folks who are interested in riding with me. I expect I will have more updates on training in this space over the coming year.

Below is a map of yesterday's ride.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

21 Miles to Go

So it looks good for me making my 3000 mile goal this year.

With the weather turning cold I've been spending a good bit of time downstairs on the trainer. This is incredibly boring but I'm able to mix it up with some videos and at least attempt to keep the monotony at bay.

My current mileage for the year is at 2979, which provided I don't get hit with an extreme fit of laziness in the next two days puts me in pretty solid striking distance of the 3000 mile year goal. I'm pleased I hit this, but clearly there are a couple places that I could have improved my cycling performance last year:

1) Better technique in cyclocross. I've talked about this before but I just need to race cross more and get more experience.
2) Stronger focus on maintaining an aggressive riding schedule after the big rides. After Tahoe, my longer distance riding fell off quite precipitously.
3) Better diet. I did good near the end of the year last year dropping some serious weight. In March I made it below 200 lbs. Unfortunately though that seems to have been the high water mark for the year.

I'm going to focus in 2009 on working on all these things. Cross season is a good ways off so that will have to wait a while. For #2 I've organized a group to do the C&O Towpath in one day. Hopefully this will help keep my fitness and endurance up. For #3 I am almost back at 200 lbs and hopefully if I keep the riding up and watch the food intake over the next week I can head into 2009 below 200. I'm aiming for 180 and am challenging some co-workers to keep the lbs. off so hopefully I'll be able to keep things in check.

For those of you who are interested below is a graph of my monthly mileage.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

All my Christian Friends
My Communist Friends and
My Kitty-Cat Loving Friends

Monday, December 22, 2008

Rubbed the wrong way.

I'm a big fan of Garmin-Slipstream. I actually have a jersey (which fits a little bit better now that I've dropped 4 lbs in the last two weeks) and enjoy watching the team race.

I would welcome more ways to support the team. Heck I've even imagined making a huge blue and orange argyle flag to wave as I cheer them on a grand tour.

So when I got this email - I thought COOL!

Based on requests from fans around the world, we created this unique opportunity for you to support the Slipstream mission and enjoy the privileges and benefits that come with being a supporting team member. 2009 is the program's inaugural year, so these exclusive benefits will only grow as we collect the input of Argyle Club members like you!

But JV -- $995. Really? I know cycling can be a bit of a high-end sport, but $995 to join the Argyle Armada. Don't you think that's a bit much in the middle of a recession for a kit and some casual clothes?

Really for that kind of coin DZ should come and rub his nutz all over my chamois himself.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Nothing to report

So I'm hitting the winter doldrums on riding here.  Its cold out and rainy and there is actually a bunch of stuff going on so its been hard to make time to ride.  Honestly that's just a lame excuse for not getting on my bike as much as I want.  Fortunately I'm going to have a week of down time between Xmas and New Years where I should be able to find some time during the day to get out and get on my bike.

Also for those of you who are interested in the C&O In A Day ride, the New Years Day laps at Hains Point should be the first of our training rides.  It won't be anything exciting...in fact it could be the most boring ride around, but there will be alot of folks down there and hopefully the weather will be as nice as it was last year.   And its a halfway decent way to work off a hangover. ;-) 

If you're interested in the C&O In A Day ride let me know and I can invite you to the Facebook group that I've set up for it. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all my cycling friends and I look forward to seeing all of you out on the road with the cool new cycling garb that your loved ones have purchased for you. 

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Jones Inc. Recovery Plan Needed Immediately

Jones Inc. Stabilization Plan
Submitted for Review to MAC, MABRA, UCI, USA Cycling and All Appropriate Racing Authorities

As frequent readers of 528K may have seen, recent performance by Jones Inc. has been sub-par.   While there are many fingers to point, Leadership understands and believes it is worth highlighting that leadership at the highest levels in Jones Inc. has made some management decisions that were not in the best interest of the organization, including but not limited to:
  1. Agreements to acquire and regularly utilize numerous high-energy sucrose laden dairy products.  The deal Jones Inc. reached with the Edy's Corporation, in hindsight can only be construed as disadvantageous to the long-term success of the organization
  2. Decisions to utilize and consume excessive quantities of organic fuels.   While it was clear that the acquisition of the fuel was not intended for the leadership of Jones Inc., efforts by other parties within the Jones enterprise to sequester the fuels, to wit: hiding them under the bed, was unsuccessful in preventing their diversion.
  3. Indulgences in luxuious accomodations when the needs of the organization would have clearly been better served by investing in long-term training and development.
This is clearly not an exhaustive list, but does serve to highlight the path that has led to the poor performance of Jones Inc.  While mistakes were made, it is unlikely that the situation will be resolved with finger pointing.

Clearly Jones Inc. is too large to fail - although some might note that it has also become too large to succeed.   None the less, the continuing poor performance of Jones Inc. could have a profound ripple effect on the associates of Jones Inc.  To avoid the tragic and widespread consequences that could result, it is imperative that a Jones Inc. Scoring Bailout Recover plan be implemented immediately.

To ensure Jones Inc.'s success in coming endeavors the following incentives must be implemented immediately:
  1. A one lap head-start competitive expansion for Jones Inc. at upcoming races
  2. Allowing  half lap short cuts  regulatory relief for Jones Inc. to ensure that high-performing competitors do not have an unfair advantage. 
  3. Acquisition of appropriate technologies so that Jones Inc. can bridge to various competitors. 
It is our firm belief that these measures will be sufficient to ensure Jones Inc.'s future competitive success.  And while we believe that these measures should ensure the enterprise's success it is important to note that this does not preclude the request of future measures at races that might be necessary to ensure success. 

Jones Inc. of course regrets having to call upon you for this support, but knowing that you understand the importance of Jones Inc.'s sucess to everyone invloved, we are confident that MABRA, MAC, UCI, USA Cycling will do the right thing.

Season Wrap Up

So a couple minor things here and there. Here are my results from this year:

Charm City Cross Cat 4 Men proteus bicycles 78 (600.44) 84
Granogue Cross C Men proteus bicycles 84 (699.17) 95
Wissahickon Cross C Men & SupaFan U19 Men proteus bicycles DNF (600.34) 97
City Bikes DCCX Cat 4 Men proteus bicycles DNF (726.62) 100
Wonderland Cyclocross MEN C PROTEUS BICYCLES 25 (640.27) 32
Tacchino Ciclocross Men 4 proteus bicycles 53 (649.11) 63
Capital 'Cross Classic C Men & U19 Men proteus bicycles 61 72

I did in fact finish at Wiss and DCCX but as Jim said I think I fell victim to the end of the race judges inattention.     As I said in the last post, I'm happy with how this season went, but am definately going to focus on improvement next year.

Also I am super pysched about the attention my flikr set of Capital 'Cross photos received yesterday.I got 3019 views to my photo stream yesterday and  am currently at 816 views for the set!!! 

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Finishing up the season strong

So today was the semi-offical end of my first season of cyclocross. A couple observations on the season in general and today in particular.

The season generally:
  1. I suck at the this. I'm not very fast. I'm still lugging around too many pounds that I need to shed. I make too many technical errors - pulling out of shoes, shitty mounts & dismounts, taking corners too hot, stuff like that.  The upside is that I can fix these things.  More practice, more riding and more experience.
  2. I love cross.  This is just too much damn fun.  I get to go out on the weekend and play in the mud on a bicycle.  What's not to love?
  3. The cross scene is great.  There are just a ton of wonderful interesting, great people in the cross scene.  Most folks are just out there looking to have a nice time on the weekend.  Good people,, good times, and beer.  Umm! 
  4. Competing is fun.  As you can note from (1) competing for me means keeping track of all the people who are faster than me, which is pretty much all the people.  But in the larger races (today, DCCX, wiss, gran) I'm able to find a group of folks at my pace and race against them.  I ride faster when I have someone to chase / hold off.  
On today:
  1. Focusing mentally helps alot.  The last day or so I had been thinking that I could ride much better today than I had in recent days.  I feel like it helped.
  2. Hydrating is a good thing.  Lots of water is awesome.  The only downside being the stop at the scuzzy sunoco on the way in.  
  3. I need to make a few less mechanical errors.  I pulled out of my pedals twice on the same climb twice today.  I watched a good 1/2 dozen riders pass me when this happened.   This shit has to stop.
  4. I'm getting better on technical stuff.  There were some pretty challenging technical turns on the course today that I feel like I handled pretty well.  The tight slow turns that we've been practicing on Thursday nights seem to be making a difference.  
I've really enjoyed the season.  We have a couple ad hoc races coming up including Bilenky Urban Junkyard Cyclocross outside of Philly in December and Cross Your Heart in February.  I also imagine there will be a few underground impromtu rides being thrown together.

Can't wait until next year!    

Photos from today's other races:

Monday, December 01, 2008

C & O Towpath End to End in One Day

So next year I have a bunch of stuff going on and I am very unlikely to do the TNT Tahoe ride. That doesn't mean I won't be cycling though.

I do understand that I will need something to keep my training focused so that fitness does not go to pot next year. I'm nowhere near fit enough to race road so I'm going to look to something else. I will likely do a couple centuries next year, but I was thinking that I should put something bigger on my agenda to focus the body and brain.

What I have come up with is a ride from one end to the other of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath in one day. This is a 184 mile ride from Cumberland to Georgetown in DC in 24 hours. This is doable - in the sense that I know folks have done it - not that I am ready to do it. But there are alot of issues outstanding that I would need to resolve and work through in my head before I do the ride. If you have any experience with this ride or similar rides I would love your insights either in comments or at tom (dot) jones (at) gmail (dot) com

1) What did your training plan look like? Standard progressive increases in distance each week? What was the longest training ride?
2) How did you organize the support for the ride? I suspect I can rope Noel into this adventure - what would she have to do?
3) What did you ride and how was it outfitted? I am figuring on using the 'cross bike which currently runs 35mm panaracer cinder x's . I assume a rack of some sort will be in order.
4) Anything peculiar necessary on the nutrition front?
5) What am I not thinking of that I need to do?

Thanks in advance,

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Did some post turkey-day riding down at Wakefield yesterday with Chris from the Proteus team. Good riding led to the discovery of some more trails in Wakefield. Nice to get a work out in and burn off some of the bird.

Wakefield has its pros and cons. Its a decent sized but not so large that you can get lost. We spent an hour and a half there yesterday and it was pretty good and interesting riding (except for the end-o crossing the bridge). Its a bit of a hike from Annapolis and I could certainly see doing the same trails over and over again could get boring.

Patapsco on the other hand has a much larger variety of trails (something like 180 miles of trails) and is much closer. Unfortunately I have no real idea of where I am going when I am in Patapsco - so for the time being unless I want to commit a fair bit of time to just kicking around the park there, I risk riding and getting all turned around in the woods. Not the worst fate in the world but definitely a possibility and one I need to keep in mind.

Hopefully I'll be able to get some riding in this weekend with Jake. Both Rockburn/Patapsco and Wakefield are doable with the cross bike so its definitely a go to head to either one of those places. We'll see what he's interested in doing this weekend.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Day Trails on the Cross Bike

First, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I have been blessed with many things to be thankful for - wonderful kids, a great GF, awesome friends, a great job and a by and large great life. I hope both of the people who read my blog have at least as many things to be thankful for.

Since I plan on hitting the bird pretty hard tonight and making some sweet potatoes my bi-atch in a few hours, I figured that it was probably wise to get in some miles on the bike today before I got some miles in at the dinner table.

Being that its always more fun to ride with another person I was able to hook-up with Jim from the Proteus team and put in some miles at the Rockburn Branch Park and the Patapsco Valley State Park. Jim's ridden here a bunch of times (including at the cross race hosted here earlier this year) so he really knew his way around the trails.

It was great fun to take the cross bike out on the trails and kick around in the dirt a little bit. The trail wasn't too harsh so it was pretty manageable with the cross bike. There were a couple spots where I had to dismount and run over the logs, but that's good cross practive. There were also a bunch of spots where I could lift the front wheel and get over the log. There were even a couple fun water crossings where I got to get wet and be a kid!

A great ride and a wonderful way to spend two hours before Turkey-day. Jim was a blast and a ton of fun to ride with. He also turned me on to some rides early next year that could be a good focus for my post-cross season riding.

BTW: 2861 miles this year - not as many as I need but not a bad number and definately within striking distance of the 3000 goal.

Map of Today's ride:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Broke Bike Mountain

This is a very expensive way to DNF.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wonderland Cross Report

Well let's get this out of the way up front. I DFLd. It was a small race and a good crop of folks but I certainly would have liked to have finished higher. I know there was a guy behind me who wasn't on the print out - likely DNF'd - but when the listing comes out on Bikereg I will in all likelihood be listed last.

In spite of my poor place I had fun and I think I learned a fair bit today.

Wonderland Cross 002
Elite Masters Getting Snowed On
First some background. It was cold. When I dragged my butt out of the car to head over to sign in it was below 30 degrees out -- more in the 25 degree area -- and the wind was occasionally whipping around. It snowed maybe 1/2 inch in Lancaster Friday so there was a nice coating of snow on the course when I got there. This made for a course that after a few laps got a bit muddy in spots and occasionally got crunchy where the muddy spots refroze. I was even lucky enough to get to ride while it was snowing during my last lap. See the photo to the right of the guys from the next race who got even more snow.

All in all my race wasn't too bad. I was pleased to see that under race conditions the improved technique that I worked on at Thursday's practice would actually work. I was able to remount and get my feet back to the pedals pretty quickly - much quicker than before -- almost. Unfortunately the conditions and my inexperience kept me from translating the smooth remount into a quick pedal away.

Unfortunately after a couple dismounts and run-ups the bottoms of my shoes were packed with snow and grass and mud - unfortunately so were my pedals. This made it extremely difficult to get my cleats back into the pedals. This slowed me down quite a bit on one of the uphills. I actually ended up getting off my bike at one point trying to clear things out and get moving again. This ended up being a huge time waste. In hindsight - in the car on the way back to Annapolis in fact - I figured out that I should have just ignored the screwed up pedals and cleats and pedaled along like they were flat-pedals and just waited for things to work out. Lesson learned. I'll know what to do next time I get out there in some cold and wet conditions.

Wonderland Cross 016
Brakes in this condition don't stop well
Another big take-away was that cantilevered brakes don't tend to grab so well when they're coated with mud and snow and ice. I noticed this before I rolled out of the start after the pre-ride but I really discovered it in one of the corners. I was on the way down one of the down-hills and came into a corner and started to touch the breaks so that I could take the turn - BUT WHOA - WAIT, what's this! NO BRAKES! That's a fine how-do-you-do. I tried my damnedest to take the turn sans brakes but between the muddiness of the grass and my not the greatest cornering skills I took the corner sans bike. Fortunately I just slid across some grass (upside of the wet course) and was able to get back up and get on the bike and roll out relatively quickly. I rode the rest of the course anticipating that my brakes would be a bit soft in the corners and did fine.

While I was certainly not pleased with my placing I certainly learned a few things and had a great time riding on a good course and enjoyed some authentic cross weather. On to Tacchino tomorrow.


Oh well -- I know there was at least one guy behind me who DNFd -- full race report to come.   Its cold out.

Argyle sock?

Was undecided on the argyle sock but its too damn cold not to put another pair on.....its cold.  Hands shaking.   Typing hard...

In Intercourse

This title will I am sure send my hits through the roof.  Anyway pervs there is nothing good in this post.

I goofed and assumed that becuase every other race I've ever done starts 9am that this one would too...so I planned my morning to get me here at 8am.  Well I arrived early and before I headed to the course I looked at the flyer for the race - CRAP - 10am start.

Not the end of the world - I found an Amish diner in Intercourse down the street from the course and am relaxing and having a bowl of oatmeal.   

Today's race should be fun - there is a coating of snow on the ground and its roughly 27 degrees - perfect cross weather.  No idea what the course will be like but if I like it - and there's a discount - I may do the 35+ masters race and do two today - although that might not be smart with Tacchino tomorrow morning.

Off to find a bank of america and head to the couse.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Getting Better

Hopefully I'm getting a little bit better. I had a pretty good practice last night. While the turn out was relatively small - just Ben, myself and a guy named Jeff from Boston it turned out pretty well. We spent the first part of the evening doing some runs of the normal evening course - lots of technical stuff and some off camber runs. We spent the last half of the evening practicing mounting and dismounting the bike.

This is where I think I actually probably improved my riding a decent bit. It was one of those moments where once something was explained you go "Oh yeah that makes sense...of course it works that way." Jeff was able to explain last night that when I dismount/remount I need to stop worrying about the bike. A little background. During 'cross there are various barriers you encounter that require you to get off your bike and carry it or lift it over the barrier. When you've cleared the barrier you have to speedily get back on your bike and get back to pedaling. If you have the energy this is best done while running - fast. Usually you'll have one hand on the top of the handlebars and one hand on the saddle or the top tube while you're running.

What Jeff pointed out was that the bike's going to be moving along side of you at the same speed you're moving and it will keep up with you. "Ignore the bike - the bike will be there." Therefore you don't need to look at it to see where you're going to jump but rather just need to jump into the saddle and between inertia and your running, in all likelihood the saddle will be under your ass when you land. It actually worked really well last night I was able to get onto my bike faster and get back to pedaling a bit quicker...and I suspect that I looked a bit smoother getting onto the bike. We'll see how it all goes this weekend.

I'm looking forward to the races this weekend. I am feeling a bit under the weather right now, but I'll just have to do my best to shake it. Wonderland on Saturday should be alot of fun. It'll be small but it should be a good race - and according to weather.gov, Lancaster should have a 1/2 inch or so of snow on the ground today. Hopefully its all still on the ground tomorrow morning when I get up there.

More reports to come this weekend.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Turchia di Domenica

Above is the course for this weekend.   Looks pretty decent.   It should be hilly though.  If you look at the terrain map below you can see that the park has some serious rolling terrain in it.
The email from the race states:
The course generally follows the contours of the park and includes quite a bit of elevation change, with fast downhills leading into steep climbs. Lap times will be between 7 and 8 minutes.
Which clearly means that I'll be spending significant time in the small chainring and will be dismounting and mounting frequently. If we get any rain on Friday or Saturday it should be really exciting.

Also interesting to note was:
We will have primes in nearly every race, including some unusual mid-pack primes in some races. Primes include gift certificates from Faccia Luna Restaurant, Hunter’s Head Pub in Upperville, VA, Bikereg.com cash primes, and subscriptions to Cyclocross Magazine.

• A special treat will be the “Suitcase of Sausage” prime; it’s like Phil Liggett’s “suitcase of courage,” only different.
Unlikely I win this. Its a shame Josh Nadas - my teammate who works for the AJC isn't riding. I'd nominate him to receive it.

Bike Hero

This is pretty amazing. Keeping the biker's speed right - plotting out al the notes - not running into jogges! Kudos!!

Doing Two this Weekend

I am now registered for Wonderland Cross - which looks to be a relatively small race - with only 23 riders in the Men's Cat 4 C and Tacchino Ciclocross which looks like it will be a normal sized race with 63 riders currently registered.

Weather report calls for snow on Friday in Lancaster - maybe if all goes well there will still be some snow on the course on Saturday!!!

I'm hoping to squeeze in a couple more rides this year, but the season certainly is getting closer to wrapping. :-(

Sunday, November 16, 2008

When all you have is a hammer....

So you know the quote -- "When all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail." Well I'm starting to think the same is true with 'cross. When you've drank the kool-aid for cross, every place you ride starts to look like a cross race venue. Today's example was Quiet Water's Park in Annapolis. I spent all of my ride today thinking about how I could set up a great race at the park. Check out the map below:

View Larger Map
There are a bunch of great hills that could be used for either run-ups or off camber runs (nice long ridges). There's also a great trail that has been cut out of some of the wetlands that would be a nice little maybe 1/3 of a mile stretch and there is a great gazebo connects to a bridge that would make for a great feature in the race. (Check it out in StreetView below)

View Larger Map

Anyway, if there is anyone from Anne Arundel County Parks and Recreation reading the blog, kick me an email and we can talk about how we can work together to fill one of the holes in the 2009 MABRA November schedule. (Capital Bikes, Bike Dr. Annapolis, Pedal Pushers, HTO Annapolis, want to sponsor a race???)

In addition to hitting the trail today, I've been keeping up with practice and riding hoping that I can improve some of my finishes in the upcoming races this year. It looks like I've got at least 3 or 4 races left this year including Wonderland in Lancaster and Tacchino in Reston next weeked, Capital Cross in Dec, a couple other misc races and some yet to be announced goodness. Its been a great season so far and I'm looking forward to the remaining races. If all goes well, maybe it will rain and snow for the remaining races.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Talking Strategy

Originally uploaded by bmpskier
Chris and me chatting with Jake pre ride.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ready for DCCX

Most of my stuff for tomorrow is ready to go. The car is clean and the girl's bikes are packed up. I know where all my clothes are and I am as much as I can figure ready to get the bikes on the car and roll out.

I think we (the Proteus team) are going to be rocking the pre-Halloween vibe with some zombie make-up on the course tomorrow. I also swung by Target tonight and picked up a nice pair of green and yellow argyle knee-high socks to roll with tomorrow. Between the 8 hours or rain we got today, the great food and beer at the ride and cool pre-Halloween vibe, it should be a blast at the ride tomorrow. Between my afternoon nap and my anticipation of tomorrow's ride I am going to have a bit of trouble getting to sleep tonight.

Anyway, here's the course we'll be riding tomorrow.

Post Crash at Granogue

Originally uploaded by charmcty velo
Yeah between the road rash and a little damage to the knuckles it was a rough race. Things are feeling better thought and I feel ready for DCCX.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Make Mine a Double

This weekend was 'cross times two - Granogue on Saturday and Wissahickon on Sunday.  It was a blast of a weekend and a TON of cross fun!

So the weekend plan was such - ride up Saturday morning arrive ~ 8:00 a.m., reg, pre-ride, race, drink beer, watch pros, eat lunch, camp, get up get to Wiss at 8:00 a.m., pre-ride, race and go home.  For the most part the weekend went according to plans, but it certainly wasn't as simple as it sounds above.

Lets start with our friends at Google.   I am a big fan of Google - I use reader, I use GoogleGroups at my kids religious school, I can't live without GMail.  What exactly does Google have to do with cyclocross.  Well nothing really, but Chris, myself and probably 30 of the riders in the Mens Cat4 C can attest to the fact that GoogleMaps has absolutely no idea how to find 2900 Monchanin Rd.  As Chris (Chris rode up with me Sat a.m.) and I make the last turn on the the list of GoogleMaps directions we drove for about 3 miles and start to wonder why we've passed the prescribed 2.1 miles yet haven't seen a field full of bicycles.  We ride a little farther and see a car with two bikes on the top.  Ah-ha these guys must be going to the race.  We'll follow them.

Yeah.  They're lost too.  They pull into someone's driveway we talk for a few minutes and follow them some more, thinking for whatever reason they might know where they're going.   The guy's driving like a nut and we eventually get dropped.

But look more guys with bikes. Surely they know where the race is...and they pull into a church driveway.  Ok.  Time to brake out the GPS.  Chris cranks up the GPS in his phone, puts in the address and we figure we can put this excellent adventure to bed.  We tell the other lost guys to follow us and we'll be off.  I proceed to do a 3 point turn to turn the Corolla around.  1 - 2 - crunch.  Yeah I wasn't so much looking out the rear window

And I backed into the other guys car.

And broke Chris's bike off my rack.

Onto the other guys hood.

Fortunately we were being followed by the coolest guys in the world and the guy was like "I'm not worried about the car, how are the bikes."  Turns out that Chris' bike was ok and the cool guy tossed it on his rack and we headed to the race.

We made it to the race, but not nearly as early as we would have like.  Chris had to beg them to re-open registration so he could race and so many folks had gotten lost by the crappy directions that the promoters had to bump the start back time 15 minutes.   All this before the race started.

As for the race.  Since we were late, I only got to take a quick pre-ride of about half the course.   Even if I had had a really nice pre-ride it would have been hard to be prepared for the race.  It was very challenging and highly technical.  There were a number of off-camber runs integrated into switchbacks.   There was also a long run on the side of hill that was the cause of one of my two crashes on Saturday.  It wasn't anything super exciting but I did end up whipping out on a turn and jamming my knee into my top tube and as I found out after the race running my calf along one of my chainrings.   It was a race where my inexperience as a cross rider really showed.  I just haven't ridden enough to be able to intuit how to attack certain turns and runs.  I imagine that when I go back to Granouge in the next couple years I'll be able to acquit myself better on the technical parts of the course.

I also left a little bit of skin in Delaware.  There was a turn that transitioned out of grass across some asphalt and onto some dirt.  As I made the turn out of the grass and across the asphalt, the bike came completely out from under me.  I slid my right hand across the asphalt taking the skin off of two knuckles and my index finger and got a nice patch of road rash on my right thigh.

I am puzzled though.  I was wearing bib short (spandex) and the shorts weren't shredded but my thigh has a good 4 inch circular abrasion where the skin has been removed.  (Jim promised pictures)  I understand the part on my hand - the road sanded off some skin.  Simple enough.  But what happened to my thigh?  The spandex - which I can't imagine is any more durable than skin - wasn't harmed, but my thigh looks like crap.  Is the road rash on my leg really a friction burn from the spandex rubbing down my leg?  Regardless it still hurts and probably won't heal well.

More importantly though, was the reaction I got from folks.  Right as I went down I got a "COME ON - GET UP - GO GO GO" from a woman standing nearby.  This was awesome.  Seriously.

It was a combination of "you're a bad ass and you can do it" and "no lollygagging Proteus this is a cross race" and "come on that wasn't so bad."   It was actually really inspiring to have someone yell at/for/to me after I crashed.  It wasn't the worst crash in the world, but feeling sorry for myself certainly wasn't an option.  Anyway, I got up and went.   And felt good about it. 

I finished 84th out of 90.  Not too bad.  Not great by any measure, but it was a ton of fun.

We hung out and watched Shaun from the team race the Mens B.   It was a blast.  He's hardcore and raced really well.  Was hoping to see him bunny-hop some barriers, but that'd probably be pushing it in a race.  He rode really hard.  Kicked some hill butt and looked great.  Here's some video below.

We grabbed a couple free beers and then headed out for lunch.  Jim delivered with some local turkey burger excellence.   I was able to snag some licorice taffy and we rolled back and watched the pros.  This was the first pro race that we watched and it was inspiring and demoralizing simultaneously.  These guys killed this course for an hour and they made the parts of the race that made my lungs burn look like nothing.  These guys were just amazing.   It was incredible impressive to see these guys put in such a strong showing for so long.  Reinforced how much I suck. ;-)

That night was not nearly as eventful as the morning.   We didn't have too much difficulty finding the campground and Chris made some yummy veggies and we hit the sack.

The morning was COLD.  There was frost on Chris' sleeping bag when he woke up.  My car thermometer said 38 degrees when we broke camp and headed for Wissahickon.  

Getting to Wissahickon was no problem.  We got there and even though the sun was out it wasn't much warmer.  It had warmed up to maybe 42 by the time we got there but there was a fair bit of wind and it was just biting cold.   I mean COLD.   Not too cold to ride, but boy am I luck I decided to throw my leg warmers into the bag just in case.  As cold as it was though I was still sucking wind heading around the course.

Wiss was a completely different course than Granogue.  It was much flatter and a bit faster, but still quite hard.   The race took place at a horse show fairground.  One of the obstacles was the course sand-pit that the horses perform in.  The first couple laps in this I ran the course and this sucked alot of juice out of me.  By the fourth lap the sand had been packed pretty well and I was able to ride the whole pit which saved me alot of time.

The highlight of the course had to be a "death spiral" where riders came in a circular spiral and went back out through the spiral again in the opposite direction.  It was really cool to see. (photos above and right by Dennis Smith)

Somehow the officials missed my finish and listed me DNF -Did not Finish.  Fortunately Jim was able to estimate that I finished somewhere around 80th.

All in all a great weekend and I will definitely do it again next year, but I think I'll go up the night before, get better maps, and stay at a hotel.

Photos from this weekend

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Today's quote of day

Anncouncer as I passed start/finish on lap 3:
There's a Proteus riding with his mouth hanging open like a goldfish trying to get oxygen.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Quote of day

From the announcer at Granouge during the pro race:
"They're knocking on doors like ACORN trying to register voters."

The Stats Live From Grangoue Cross

84th out of 90 finishers - a slight improvement still not DFL
3 skinned knuckles
2 crashes
1 broken rack on the car
1 patch on road rash on the left thigh.
0 blown chains!
Lots of smiles

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Proteus Rocks!!

So I rolled out of the office and headed up to Patapsco Valley State Park for some singletrack trail riding with the cyclocross bike.  I sounded like a good idea and I figured in spite of the hour long ride out of the way to head up to Baltimore for the ride it would be worth it for the change of scenery and different terrain.   

I got up there and got out on the trail and was exploring around the park having a blast.  I was enjoying myself and about 15 minutes in really hitting my grove. My legs were warm and I was really having a good time.  Then my chain stopped wanting to turn.  I couldn't make the pedal go around.  As you might imagine this is a ride limiting problem.  Somehow on one of the climbs I broke one of the links on the chain.  

In addition to being a bit pissed that I was going to have to have work done on my bike I was pretty bummed that a good ride just came to an end and I was on the other side of the park and about a mile away from my car with a none working bike.  It looked like my day was offically in the crapper. 

So I finally got back to the car and I rang the guys at Proteus up and asked them if they'd be able to fix the chain before Thursday's practice.  They said they should be able to and bring it by ASAP.  Well I rolled back down to Washington, took Yakkov into the shop and one master link and an unbending of the bent small chain ring and I was out the door with a good as new bike in under 15 minutes.  The guys there were great and took awesome care of me.  I was able to have th bike back up and running and headed over to the College Park campus to get in some 'cross training before it got dark.

I was totally stoked.  These guys were great and salavaged an otherwise crappy evening for me.  

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Towpath

So I haven't been posting alot recently but I have been getting in some riding.  I've been putting on some miles and if all goes well I should finish the year with roughly 3000 miles.   A decent number.  I'd love to ride more but I don't seem to make enough time to ride.  Really need to focus on my time management skills.

Anyway though, the C&O Towpath is my latest great DC discovery.  I've lived in the DC area for ~10 years and while I've known the towpath existed - heck I would see the first mile or so of it on the zillion times I headed out the CCT - I've only been on it once.  The only time I was on it was a few years ago was on my road bike.  A road bike just simply isn't well suited to handling the C&O.  Its a hard ride and takes a toll on your arms and neck and is generally unpleasant.  

A ride on the C&O on the Yaakov (the new name for my bike) on the other hand is wonderful.  Josh from the Proteus team lead a practice ride with me last week after work and it was a blast.  Yaakov is able to mute the bumps from the towpath, but you still get a decent paced right that doesn't raddle your fillings out.  Its really the perfect ride for the path.  The hard-pack makes you work, but the ride is super enjoyable.  I went back during the day a couple days after the ride with Josh and the scenery was beautiful.  The water in the canal was scerene and mirrored the folliage above that was starting to turn.  After you get a couple miles out of DC the trees and the distance quiet all the city sounds and you feel like you're in a the middle of the forest.  Its really a wonderful ride and its a shame I hadn't done it sooner. 

The only downside was that a recent storm cut out part of the towpath and a portion of the canal had to be drained.  Its not the end of the world and the area is still beautiful, but it is a little odd to see trees and grass growing in the bottom of a canal.

All in all though its one of the most beautiful places in the district.   I'm certainly going to be spending more time on it and maybe -- maybe --  next year I will endeavor to take on the whole 184 miles of the C&O in one day.  Maybe.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Hutchinson Tires Urban Video 2008

I've ridden Hutchinson's and have been pretty happy with them -- they never made me this hip, but they're great tires.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Seagull 2008

Well compared to previous Seagull Centuries, this one was marvelous. Last time I rode Seagull it was rainy, windy, 45 degrees and gross. Saturday on the other hand was between 60 and 70 degrees, relatively not-windy and sunny. It was a beautiful day for a ride.

trapped in TrappeGetting down to Salisbury was a bit of a hassle. I picked up Josh at his house around 3:45 and we headed east. All was fine until we got to Trappe, MD. Turns out there was some kind of traffic jam along US50. Why there was traffic on 50 so early in the day so late in the year is a bit of a mystery, but we were able to bail off onto a side road and avoid probably a half an hour of the hour long back up. Once we got past the "trap" in "Trappe" we rolled into Cambridge, MD where were were greeted by two wrecks in 3 blocks. Not much we could do but sit through them and wait. We finally arrived in Salisbury and were pleased to discover that the hotel was nice enough and that we weren't too terribly far from the start. We were able to catch up with some Teammates from Tahoe and grab a bite at the Applebee's before heading back to the hotel and getting our gear ready for the next day. (how Applebees "supposedly" ran out of broccoli and mixed veggies though is still a mystery - Tim at my table had broccoli and mixed veggies - why didn't I.)

The Ride
It started out really well. We rolled out at roughly 7:30. It was a bit chilly, but I decided to still go with the short sleeve jersey - mostly because Seagull doesn't organize a bag pickup and once it warmed up I'd be carrying the long sleeve jersey all day.

Took me about the usual 10 miles to get my legs warm. Josh and I had decided in advance that we were going to blow through the first rest-stop and head right to the second stop at mile 40. That was a good call. At roughly mile 30 we were able to jump on with a group of roughly 50 guys from the DC area. It was the same group of guys who get together the weekly down at Hains Point. It was a ton of fun getting in the group with them and trying to hang. The sound inside a group that large is pretty amazing. Just a solid whirling of spokes going through the air. I was able to hang for maybe 5 miles and then my legs told me I just wasn't ready to hang with these guys long term yet. I slowly slipped out of the middle towards the back and was finally got spit out. I think I went through almost all the stages described in this email I got a few years ago.
1. DENIAL --- "I'm not getting dropped. It's just a little gap and I can
catch up, no problem".

2. ANGER --- "I can't believe they're dropping me! Oh, they're going to
pay for this, when I catch them."

3. BARGAINING --- "Please God, give them a head wind or a traffic light
to make them stop or slow down, and I promise to spend tomorrow playing
with the kids."

4. DEPRESSION --- "I'm not any good at cycling. I should sell my bike
and start playing golf. I don't think my cycling buddies like me

5. ACCEPTANCE --- "Ok. I'm dropped. Guess I had better just enjoy the
ride. It would have been fun riding with them, but maybe I'll catch them
at the next rest stop or even meet some new friends."

After riding with those guys and getting dropped I caught up with Josh at the second rest stop and we got in an out of there pretty quickly. The third 20 mile leg of the ride was pretty uneventful. I hopped onto a paceline and chugged it into Assateague. The food there was good and they had some great cranberry walnut bread which got me fired back up to head out and hit the next 40 miles.

Mile 80 delivered some pie and ice cream. Good yummy stuff and lots of empty calories to drag me through to the end of the ride. The last 40 were largely uneventful. We definitely saw some tapering off of our pace, but that's to be expected considering all the miles we had put in that day.

Fortunately though we were able to maintain a pace of 19.0 mph over 100 miles - and start to finish in 6 hours. This was pretty satisfying considering the most recent long ride before Seagull was the labor day ride. Josh and I didn't quite make our 20 mph over 100 goal but we came pretty darn close.

Most definitely a great ride and alot of fun!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wee Ones Riding

Alrighty, we're going to have a whole crew riding at DCCX on October 26! I of course will be sporting the green of the Proteus team, and Jake will be out doing his first 'cross race in the U16 field and Bekah and Sophie will be taking to the course on the Lil Belgians ride. If you're not sure what the Lil belgians ride is check out the video below. Mark you calendar for Sunday October 26 at 9:00 a.m for me, 1:00 pm for the girls and 1:32 pm for Jake. The race will be at The Armed Forces Retirement Home located at Rock Creek Church Rd, NW & Upshur St, NW, Washington, DC

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Charm City Cyclocross Sandpit

Here's what the Sandpit looked like on the first lap. I didn't take off too quickly so you can see me near the end of the pack. It seemed like the sand pit never ended.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My First Race

Well I'm not dead. I finished my first cyclocross race on Sunday. I don't know if I finished with a smile, but I know I was smiling shortly after then end.

First the obvious question - where did I finish. I finished 78th - which was close to the end, but not the end, so I did reach my goal of not finishing last.

The race went pretty well. The first first lap was crazy. It was really bunched up at the beginning. I was able to keep up with folks for a bit for the first lap or so, but dropped off relatively quickly after fatigue and poor technique had an opportunity to do their mischief. A couple notes:

The sandpits.
The sandpits seem to go on forever and ever. It looks like they used two old volleyball courses. The way they ran the courses through the pits you couldn't blow through the pits and stay on your bike. They seemed to have at least three turns in the pits and a couple crosses across the grass between the two. The sand was relatively deep and was rough slogging through it. It was a pretty challenging little area and sucked alot of steam out of me. I also had a bit of trouble getting my shoes back into my pedals when I got out of the pits. I'll have to figure out a trick to take care of that this weekend.

The obstacles.
I was pretty intimidated by the barrier in front of the tree when I watched the video of last year's ride. It seemed really high on the video. charm city cross Fortunately when I got there it wasn't as bad as I thought and I was able to clear it by just putting a foot on the top and climbing over. It still required a good deal of effort and was a challenge but wasn't as bad as I made it out in my head.

After the tree there were a few hurdles which were relatively manageable. They were at the top of slight hill so you got some speed heading down the hill before making a turn again. They weren't easy but not the worse part of the course either.charm city cross

On the other side of the course there were a few switchbacks which at the beginning had to be run because of all the riders on the course. By the time I'd been spit out the back I was able to ride the switchbacks and then dismount and clear the hurdles up the small hill and head back out. For whatever reason I always had trouble getting back into my pedals after that spot on the course. Getting back on the bike was fine but getting in the pedals was a problem.

One fall. Nothing too eventful, just hit a patch of loose dirt on a corner and lost my bike from under me. I was able to get back up and get on the bike right away so it was nothing too dramatic - although it was nice to have a ~13 year old kid from NCVC right there to witness it. Wouldn't have been any fun otherwise.

There were a ton of great people at the ride cheering folks on, chief among them - cheerer-in-chief, Noel. It seemed like she was everywhere. I'd look up a hill and she'd be yelling "Go Honey, keep pushing." I'd come around a corner and she'd be rattling the cowbell and shaking her pig clappers. It was great inspiration to have her out there!! There were also alot of misc people out there just cheering. That was very cool. It was nice to have the occasional "Good work Proteus" along the route.

I'm really pleased with how it went. It was really hard. I was really spent at the end. And I really had alot of fun. I certainly would like to do better in the future, but I wasn't the last guy across the line, so I met my goal. I'm going to ride again this weekend, and hopefully will do a bit better. Hopefully though, I'll have just as much fun. I'm really glad I signed up for cross and am looking forward to a season full of racing. (we'll see if that holds when its muddy, sloppy and 40 degrees.)

Finally, its really nice to have a ranking. I've always done rides. Which are fun and a great time and good way to spend time on a bike, but I never knew how I did at the end of the ride. Now I have something to push myself against. It certainly wasn't the best finish of the day, but it gives me a metric to compare myself against and will measure how I do.

Friday, September 19, 2008

As Ready as I'm going to be.

Well it's T -2 days until Charm City Cross, and I think I am about as ready as I am going to get.

I had a couple good practices this week and things are starting to feel a little better. The practice is definitely helping and I am relatively confident that the more I practice this year the better my performance will get.

I practiced with the guys from the Bike Rack on Tuesday night. I met them up at Langdon Park in NE DC. The course they put together in the park was moderately hard and alot of fun. It was a bit more technical than the course at College Park in that it had us going through a bunch of trees and making some tight turns. At the end of the loop there were two hurdles in the middle of the field to practice mounts and dismounts and then halfway through the ride there was a hurdle at the bottom of a hill to force folks off and carry their bike up the hill. All in all I felt good at the end of the ride, but it was clearly hard work and my body definitely needs some more conditioning. Hopefully that will improve as the season goes along.

I also rode Thursday night with Proteus at College Park. We had a really fun ride. We did a couple warm up loops of the standard course and then decided to knock out 4 laps in a row. The four consecutive laps was actually pretty helpful. It gave me an opportunity to get into the practice of thinking through the course and anticipating what will be coming up. It also focused my brain on pacing my body so that I don't go out and blow up right away. I also reminded myself that if I look through the turns for where I want to come out I have a much better chance of taking the turn effectively and not washing out.

Anyway, I'm pretty nervous about Sunday, but I'm anticipating that I'll have alot of fun. It should be a good time and it looks like we'll have a good group of riders heading up. I'll report back Monday with details on how it went.

Pedal and Poker is ON!!!

You've been waiting for it and it is here. Pedal and Poker is a GO!! Here's the announcement:


I wanted to invite all of you to ride the 2008 Pedal and Poker Ride.

This year's ride is right around the corner – Sunday, October 12th. (The weekend after Sea Gull; the Sunday before the Columbus Day holiday)

The Pedal & Poker is designed to be a FUN, RELAXED, LOW-KEY ride to round out the cycling season. Last year we had gorgeous weather (if it was a little nippy at the start). Many of you were able to join us for the ride last year, and together we raised about $2500 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This year we hope to raise even more, but we can't do it without you!

For those who don't know, the Pedal & Poker is an awesome bike ride with a twist – it's also a POKER RUN! At the start, finish, and 3 rest stops along the 50 mile course, you will draw a poker card. Prizes will be awarded to the people who draw the best hands. Following the ride, folks meet up at a local watering hole, the Killarney House, which offers P&P participants lunch (and beer) specials. At this post ride event you have an opportunity to win additional prizes. It all makes for one FANTASTIC day spent with friends!

There are a few changes to this year's ride/festivities:
1) We are moving the start/finish location a few miles further up Route 50 – this will add about 10 minutes to your drive (exit #23 instead of exit #16), but this Park `N' Ride lot has plenty of space for everyone AND a port-a-potty (and there are also nearby gas stations for those who prefer more established facilities). The change in start/finish means an exciting new course!

2) The start time has been pushed back an hour. Last year it was a bit cold at the start, and it is darker later at that time of year – thus we have pushed the rolling, show-and-go start back. Riders can start as early as 8AM, and all riders should be on the road no later 10AM. All riders should be off the course by 3PM, so please plan your start time accordingly.

3) Instead of encouraging everyone to arrive at the Killarney House at the same time to do the drawing, this year we are going to host multiple drawings spaced by a certain time interval. We are encouraging people to start, ride and get over to the Killarney House at their own pace. We hope this will ensure everyone is well taken care of and enjoys a good meal and pint following the ride, has a chance to win some awesome prizes, but without overwhelming the Killarney House.

Please click on the link (http://tinyurl.com/55wzs9) and sign up today! Your support is greatly appreciated. I promise you a FUN, RELAXED, LOW-KEY ride to end the season. Friends old and new are welcomed and appreciated – please share this email and link widely. The more participants, the more money we raise to kick cancer's a$$.

Finally, please share this announcement with your friends.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

He eats cheese .... and never with meat

So Sophie was telling me how there is a mouse who lives under her bed and light sabbos candles and gets goldfish crackers and brings them to her on Shabbat.  Cute, so I asked:

"So is the mouse Shabbat observant?"
Sophie "No (incredulously), he's Jewish."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Good Practice Night

I headed out last night to College Park for the weekly Proteus Cyclocross practice. There was a great turnout last night with something like seven or eight riders showing up.

The practice was the same course as the week before. I'm a little annoyed with myself because there is this same corner on the ride where you come down hill fast and then have to make a very narrow turn and then head back out. On the outside of the turn is alot of tall grass. Unfortunately for whatever reason I can't quite seem to hold the turn yet and am going wide and then washing out my rear tire. Can be a bit embarrassing when you've got riders behind you. I've taken a spill on it once already. I've got a goal to master at least that turn in the next couple weeks.

Other than that we did a fun two laps at the end where we had a race simulating start - everyone lining up shoulder to shoulder and going from a dead stop. One guy ended up in some bushes which had to suck.

Other than that it was a good ride and we headed back to the shop for some post-practice pot luck.

My weakest spot is clearly the hills. I don't seem to have quite enough power (or maybe too much weight) to power up the hills. And once I get off it just keeps getting slower. Importantly though, I'm still having fun. I'm looking forward to getting my ass kicked in a week and a half when I head up to charm city cross. It should be a blast and I'm looking forward to my first race.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Good Day

Had a pretty good riding day today. I was able to roll out for a little while during lunch and head down to Hains to do a few laps. Turns out though I got caught in the worst of the pouring rain today, but once you're soaked through as long as the rain is warm it doesn't really make a difference. The only issue with riding in the rain today was that the rain came with a fair bit of wind. Kind of reminded me of riding Seagull a few years back and made me think if the wind is high at Seagull, keeping up 20mph will be a bit of a challenge.

Another upside was that I discovered that the Bike Rack is holding cyclocross practices on Tuesday nights, so this means that my two free nights will always be filled with CX practice. It's unlikely to keep me from getting my ass kicked at the races but maybe the extra practices will help my ass get kicked just a little bit less.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Holy Cow that was hard

So I was able to resolve my bike situation and headed out last night for my first night of cyclocross practice. I quickly learned something.

Cyclocross is hard.

Really hard. And intense. And ALOT of fun.

For those of you not familar with cyclocross, wikipedia defines cyclocross as:
Cyclo-cross (sometimes cyclocross, CX, cyclo-X or 'cross) is a form of bicycle racing. Races take place typically in the autumn and winter (the international or "World Cup" season is September-January), and consists of many laps of a short (2.5–3.5  km or 1.5–2  mile) course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike whilst navigating the obstruction and remount in one motion.[1][2]

Last night I headed to the weekly training ride organized by Proteus Bicycles in College Park. Proteus is a great group of folks and one of the best bike shops in the area. Noel bought her Orbea there and has been super happy with it. If you're a woman and want to make sure that you get women specific issues addressed, they're definately the place to go.

I lucked into finding out about the 'cross practice through one of the postings on the website's blog. We did basically the same course that is shown in the video. I've embedded the video below and I will note that Jim and the riders climbing up the hill at the beginning are in GOOD shape. That hill is alot harder than it looks on the video. Its especially hard after the fourth lap or so. Which brings up an important point. While the rides are relatively short - 30 to 45 minutes - you get anaerobic really quickly (at least I did last night) and I expect that fatigue comes on really fast. I'm expecting that the farther along I get in the race, the sloppier my technique will get and the slower I will get - which will actually probably make things more fun - certainly more comical.

Since I'm a newbie, we spent a good bit of the time last night focusing on mounting and dismounting the bike, "suitcasing," and "shouldering" the bike. These are the techniques used when you have to clear obstacles or climb hills that are too steep to ride. Mounting and dismounting are pretty straightforward, but alot harder to do at speed gracefully. Suitcasing is picking the bike up by the top tube and lifting it up as you run over an obstacle. Shouldering is putting your shoulder through the frame and carrying the bike up hill.

I felt like I was getting better with my suitcasing, and near the end of the ride felt like I was figuring out a motion to get off, lift the bike, get back on and smoothly pedal away. My shouldering is not too strong yet. Its very awkward to toss a bike on your shoulder and carry it up a hill. I'm having a bit of trouble with grabbing the drops and keeping the bike from sliding down my shoulder. I'll get alot of opportunity to work on that in the next couple weeks, because the course that Jim from Proteus runs folks on has a fair number of hills that I'll be climbing. Below are some videos that provide and idea of what mounting and dismounting and carrying a bike should look like.

Finally I am preparing for my first cyclocross race. I will be racing on September 21st in the Charm City Cross race. I completely expect to thoroughly get my ass kicked, but I am going to have a ton of fun doing it. I haven't competed in a sport competitively since I wrestled in high school. I'm really looking forward to heading out there and pushing myself to ride a little harder than I would otherwise and see if I can finish in front of at least one other guy. If you want and idea of what the course looks like, check out the video below. All of you are welcomed to come out to Baltimore's Druid Hill Park and cheer for me/laugh at me.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A Goal

So I had a pretty darn good weekend. To start at the end it was capped off with Bekah having her first full day of Kindergarten. She was super cute. Those of you who follow my flickr feed give it a look-see and check out the photos of Bekah and Sophie.

The weekend was super hectic, but in the good way. On the training front I had a great ride on Sunday. Being that it was a long weekend we had out some of our friends from Team to ride in the morning and then BBQ in the afternoon. Ned, Ann, Ann's husband Tim and Josh came out to ride on Sunday. We had a great ride which rolled out of our house and took us out to North Beach. The first half of the ride was along a route that we usually do in reverse when we head out of North Beach on the way back to the Davidsonville Park and Ride. It was actually a little more fun to do it this way because heading towards sea level is alot easier than heading away from sea level. Unless you're at the Dead Sea, the ride towards sea level is almost always down hill.

We stopped in North Beach, which has a surprising number of strange folks. Sunday's specimen was a guy wearing a skirt, with 4 piercings - in noses, eyebrows, and lips - piercings everywhere. He was a big fellow and an odd looking fellow, but the best part was that his truck had a sticker that read "I Heart Satan." Funny.

Anyway after bumping into Satan's friend at the North Beach Subway, we headed out back towards Edgewater. Josh and I shared the 25 miles on the way back. Since we were coming up from sea level we were doing a decent bit of climbing. Josh is a really strong climber and I've seen his backside on a number of rides. Its a regular occasion for me to be gritting it out and hammering up hill and see Josh slip by me on the left and effortlessly climb the hill. Sunday was no different. On the parts where we weren't climbing I had a chance to chat.

Josh set a goal and I eagerly signed up.

We're going to do the Seagull Century in less than 5 hours.

Food and all. No lolly-gagging at the rest stops. Pace lining constantly and keeping the pace up throughout. We'll have to keep it above 20mph for 5 hours. It'll take some work and a hard pace by us, but I think we can do it.

I'm excited to have a goal. It's a good motivator and it should make the ride even more satisfying. I'm excited to be doing it and am glad that Josh put it out there.

After the ride we came back to the house and had some yummy BBQ. I tossed some burgers on the grill and we had some great snacks. It was really great to decompress with a cold beer, sit around and chat with some friends and enjoy the weekend. Thanks in no small measure to Noel's watching the kids during the ride and help setting up for the BBQ it came off super well and I had a really enjoyable Sunday.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cyclocross looking unlikely this year

So for about a week I though I was going to race cyclocross this year. I was super excited about it because I had been really looking forward to racing and I was also looking forward to getting out in the mud and grass and racing.

So of course in normal impulsive manner I went out and purchased a bunch of stuff for cyclocross - new fork, two new tires, some new brakes. All kind of good stuff. I got a good deal on most of the stuff and I was pretty stoked to begin racing. Unfortunately, what I didn't check was to see if the rear triangle of my bike would take a cyclocross tire. Well lo and behold it doesn't. I discovered this this afternoon when I tried to toss a 32mm tire on the rear wheel. There are some 30mm tires out there that MAY fit, but I am so demoralized about the whole process that I'm not really even feeling up for ordering one to find out that it doesn't fit. GRRR. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Noel is an IronGirl

Noel before the start of IronGirlAs I've mentioned earlier, Noel is awesome.  Well she proved it again this weekend by completing here first triathlon and kicking it's ass.   Loving the Run!I'm not going to do a ride report, because I am sure she will do one some time in the future and its really her's to do, but I did want to comment on how impressed I was with her.   She went out there and really kicked it in the swim, totally stomped on it in the bike ride and then kicked it in the final run.

She did so well that she placed first in the Athena under 40 class, 13th in the 30 to 34 age group and 98th overall in the race out of nearly 2000 participants. And all her first time in a triathlon!! I was super impressed and extremely proud of her!!!Champion!!!

It would have been great if I had had the girls this weekend so they could have seen Noel do so well and see all the girls and women have fun at the Tri. Next year!

IronGirl was a wonderful event. They were able to get 2000 women to come out and participate in a multi-sport event many of whom wouldn't have participated otherwise. The best part was seeing daughters and sons grab their mom's hand and run the last couple hundred yards in to the finish with them. Noel had a great time today and I was extremely proud of her for taking up the challenge and doing so well. YAY PUMPKIN!!

Great Saturday Ride

I rolled out Saturday for a 42 mile ride around greater Davidsonville (map below) and it was one of those rides where shortly after I warmed-up everything started working and I was hitting on all cyclinders.  I was 65 or so degrees out and I was able to get my legs working and really turn the pedals over.

Its not the hardest ride ever but its not the easiest either and with St. George Barber Road and some other hills it certainly includes a fair bit of climbing.  I felt really great and was able to finish up the ride with a 17.7 pace over the 42.  I was really pleased because I had been feeling a bit cruddy lately - I'm not sure if it was the couple pounds I put back on or if I overdid things when I did that century a few weeks ago.  I hope this is a good omen and bodes well for my upcoming plunge into cyclocross.  (More to come on that later this week)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Walmart or target should sponsor an endurance event

So I went out and rode last night.  Nothing too terribly exciting - 27 miles at a 18.9 pace.  Same route as this ride (slightly longer) but without the rain and hail this time.   It was a good ride and the weather was perfect.  It seems like fall is coming a bit early to Edgewater (just me posting that should guarantee that this weekend has Indian summer like temperatures) (can I post "Indian summer" - I know kids no longer sit "Indian style," they sit "criss cross apple sauce."  I actually felt pretty lame just writing those words.  oh well I guess 5 year olds don't care.)

Anyway so on the ride last night I was thinking about how more folks could get involved in endurance events.  I was thinking that it would be a perfect idea for Walmart or Target to partner with a disease charity (heart disease seems like a good one to me) and organize their own marathon or cycling event -- heck even a triathlon. (a marathon seems most likely because of the sheer number of runners) 

They could agree to pay some portion of the participants fundraising/expenses and the participant would agree to raise some amount of money for the charity.  They would then ship all the participants out to the event (the Target Marathon to Benefit the Heart Disease Society in Minneapolis or the Walmart Marathon  to Benefit the Heart Disease Society in Little Rock) and have the participants all don running singlets emblazoned with the corporate logo.   They could coordinate training runs leaving from their stores.  They could recruit employees to run the race and to spread the word to their friends.   And they could open the race to participants at large and give the proceeds to the charity.  

It would seem like a win-win for the corporation.  They already have a huge charity budget so they would just be repurposing charity funds.  They would get their name plastered all over a big event (shirts, singlets, promotional marterials, etc.).   With the increasing concerns about obesity they would look like a great corporate citizen to be working to promote physical fitness.  Participants would love them because they'd complete a life-goal type event and associate it with the sponsor.   It would also be great for the brand because customers would associate a fit and active lifestyle with the brand - even if they don't participate.  

Anyway, I was just batting it around in my head.  Maybe someone from Target or Walmart will stumble upon the post and it will inspire them to run it up the corporate ladder.