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 ( 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.