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

To:
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,
Tom