Sunday, December 20, 2009

New Directions

Thesis, life, and injuries have taken me in a different direction than I had anticipated.

I'm hoping to ride this season, but I'm almost certain that I will not race.

I've begun to start lifting to gain some weight. I'm doing this for a multitude of reasons:

1) I was always plagued by a weak core while riding, I can address this by lifting.
2) I need something to do so I don't go insane.
3) I love crits and if I 'baloon' up to 170 or so at 5'10, I'll still be competitive in the 4's and higher up.

As 3 hints, I plan on coming back to racing at some point, but I'm not sure when that's going to be. It's been months and my knee issues still haven't been figured out at this point. I'm going to try going to a different doctor and see if they say anything different. I'm also planning to amp up my physical therapy a bit, so lets see how that all goes.

For now, this blog will have very little about riding and racing. Instead, more of life, learning, and lifting will be written about.

Talking about writing, I really should finish this thesis chapter that I've been working on forever. I need to turn it in by tomorrow afternoon!


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Long time no see

I've been racing cross, training, and working my behind off at school these days.

I decided at the last minute to write a thesis, so all my lack of free time is spent reading books, articles, and chasing sources for it. I knew I was in for this, now I need to figure out how I can cut all corners in my school work without sacrificing my grades so I can be sane this semester. I see my friends maybe once or twice a week because I stay in and get my work done, and so I can ride early.

I'll post more on cross when I get a moment to breathe, but for now here's something I wrote for a creative non-fiction class that I'm taking.

Here goes:

Click. Clank. I push the shifter over, and the bike obediently responds to my directive.

The chain moves from the teeth on the chain ring back towards the cogs on the cassette and shimmies its way through the rear derailleur before finally arriving right back where it started. My consistent pedaling perpetuates the cycle. It’s the only pleasant sound of metal on metal that I’ve ever heard.

My mind wanders for a brief moment as I stare ahead of the pack. I try to admire my surroundings, but feel a nudge on my arm as a racer tries to over zealously advance position. Rubbing elbows at 30 miles an hour on contact patches as wide as your thumb, that’s bike racing.

The derailleur pushes the chain over to a smaller cog. My legs protest to the sudden change in resistance, but I disregard their annoyance. The anticipation is building around me, and the others are starting to get restless.

I stand up to stretch my legs and keep pace with the faster riders in the group. I feel a push on my right side. Instinctively, I lean over to that side, using my weight to counter the force. No destructive sound of metal on metal. Crisis averted.
I glance sideways to my left and see myself nicely hidden in the pack. The other riders are all around me, and I am shielded from the wind. Perfect.

All around the industrial park, the industrial park, the industrial park. All around the industrial park, so early in the morning. My pre-race espresso starts to kick in and I can feel my heart rate rising. Caffeine makes me antsy, and suddenly I’m claustrophobic in the swarm of cyclists around me. I check my 8 O’clock position. I have a wheel length between my rear end and another rider’s front wheel.

I try to calm myself down. I need to wait for the hill to advance. I need to stay concealed, but the adrenaline is flowing like magma through my veins. The close call has made me anxious to get out of the pack of racers riding shoulder to shoulder.

Someone else seems to have had the same idea and I see a rider shoot out from the side. The effects of caffeine, adrenaline, and restless legs hit me all at once, and I chase after the lone rider.

We crest the hill, and try to make our escape. A few others bridge up to us, and the break away is formed. My legs protest to the effort by quickly saturating with lactic acid. We take turns at the front to split the load. I push through the pain for my pull before rotating off and jumping back in the line. I turn around to look at our lead.
There’s the field, thundering towards me. The break is lost. Dejectedly, I allow myself to be swallowed by the field and wait for the sprint. I lick my lips. I will have my glory yet.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Shout out to Vernon Cycle!

I went over to pick up something that I'd ordered at Vernon Cycle (CVC's Sponsor Shop), and asked about replacement forks for cannondales.

My fork is a little shorter than I'd like and I was wondering if cannondale did fork upgrades, since I wanted the lighter full carbon fork.

2 minutes later, the owner comes out with a used full carbon fork cannondale fork that's perfect for my bike. I run home and measure my bike and show up with it.

The fork fits perfectly and is exactly what I needed. There are a few scratches on the clear coat, but I'll cover those up with clear nail polish. Awesome!

Now, with the 105 to Dura ace Swap over and the new fork and other setup, my bike has lost a good pound or so. It's sub 18 pounds now.


Remember, it's all about peformance:

I'm down a few pounds as well. I weighed in at 147 this morning. Trying to get back to the 142-144 range for catskills. It looks doable, but man do I miss eating as much dessert as I want. This is the first time I've gained weight after doing that.


So for the rest of the year:

Couple of training crits, 3 village tour Road Race, Tour of the Catskills, and then Cross season.


On that note: I should really start building up that cross bike...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tokeneke Reflection

I can finally sit down and write about this crazy race...

I didn't 'taper' for the race at all since I wanted to use it as a good hard training ride to prepare for the Tour of the Catskills stage race that I'm trying to prepare for. I'm hoping that I can do it, but my fingers are crossed (*).

I drove up to teammate Dennis' house and we drove to the race together chatting about the course. Got some nice tips there, thanks!

We arrived in time, and we went to go register and get our numbers. I decided to take my bike to neutral support since my brakes were feeling a little funny and I wanted to tighten them up. My multi tool wasn't so good for that. Turns out that the rear derailleur wasn't dialed in perfectly either. Oh well. I guess the cable stretched the last few times I rode it and I didn't notice. They fixed it up real fast.

I ran back to the car, running a little late now thanks to the last minute fix. I realized that I still had my seatpack and frame pump on so I took those off and put them under the car. I told Dennis to remind me to get them at the end of the day, as I had a feeling that I'd be too wiped out to remember. I was right.

The race started about 15 minutes late due to us not having a lead vehicle for a bit. Once it showed up, we were off.

I stayed with the pack, moving up as I could. I didn't want to be on the tail end and get dropped by the slowing of some of the riders.

There was one guy who kept weaving right in front of me, and he wouldn't pick a wheel in front of him. He started letting gaps open up in front and that was that, I went around him to avoid mayhem.

We turned right up the first bump past the resevoir, and I started losing contact with the very front of the group. Already???


There was a small crash as a squirrelly rider knocked into someone. Chasing around him coming uphill sucked, but it was still early in the race.

I caught up to the lead on the little bit of flat ground that we had and kept contact till the last of the little rises. On a short steep hill, I lost them, and I started to chase on the downhill.

I caught up to the tail end before the final hill of the first lap, the steady rise right up to the finish, and then it was over. The riders in front of me fell back, and I lost contact for good. I had made it with the lead group for almost a lap. This was a great accomplishment by itself.

As I passed the feed zone, making the required faces at the Mullaly feed squad, I felt my stomach start to churn. I instantly wished that I had grabbed one of their bottles. I thought of just dropping out of the race, but I pushed on.

The stomach cramps got worse and worse, until it made pedaling incredibly hard. All the groups that I had dropped started passing me. I latched on for a few seconds only to be unable to do anything. My teammates words of encouragement went unheeded as I fell off the back into oblivion.

I finished the race, but the stomach cramps took 2 days to clear up.

That really sucked. Finally feeling human again. What a relief...

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Little bit of Everything

The monster workout that I'd planned for wednesday didn't happen.

Wednesday's Workout:

I'd planned to do a 3 hour ride, broken down as follows:

5 minutes easy, 15-20 mins tempo, 5-10 mins easy. 30 mins done.
10 mins easy, 10 mins at Threshold, 10 mins easy. 60 mins done.

Repeat for 3 hours total ride time. I think it would have been a good road race training ride.

Unfortunately, I started the tempo interval and my legs had no go juice. I figured I couldn't do the LT intervals, so I figured I'd just keep doing tempo instead.

The 20 min interval marker rolls by, and I'm still going. I decide to keep at it.
The 30 min interval marker goes by, and I'm still going. I keep at it.
The 40 min interval marker goes by, and I'm still going. Really now?

I kept this up for an hour before I stopped because I thought it would be too much for the day. Nice when that happens. My first hour long interval. Nice.


My car had been making some noise for a bit so I decided to take it into the shop. I drove there with my new single speed in the back seat and decided to leave it there to get worked on. Turns out that the muffler was dead.

A few hours and $400 later, my car was running silently again.

I'm going to break even this summer, which is unfortunate but okay.

That being said, my car gave me 30-31 mpg for my trip home to philly, the drive to the lancaster road race and back, and the drive home. Not bad.

Time to start looking for another car though. Bleh.

I also started working on another project. My CAAD9 is getting Dura Ace'd!

Instead of a ride today, I played frisbee with some friends. I still ended up riding about 8-10 miles for the ride to the garage and back, and doing some errands.

The funniest thing happened today...
I took apart my chain and was cleaning it up in degreaser. When I was draining the stuff, I noticed that the quick link had come apart.
"That could go down the drain if it fell out," I thought to myself.
5 minutes later, it did. Whoops...


I had planned to do a 1.5-2 hour ride with a bunch of hills today, but the finishing up of the bike took longer than planned.

I managed to get out and go hammer for 35 minutes of SST work. Normalized power was right around threshold. Good stuff.

Since I didn't ride as much as planned today, I think I'll go out and ride easy for 2-3 hours tomorrow. Should get the legs moving for Tokeneke on sunday.

Dennis, are you ready for the after race sandwiches?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuesday Nighter at The Rent!

I experimented with attacking today.

I've never really attacked during a race and I figure that the B training crits are a good place to go on the offensive.

The first prime went, and I waited. I moved up and then gunned it as the prime winners crossed the line. Got a good gap going and stayed away for a couple of laps. I tried to lure some people to come and get in a break, but no dice. Sat up after a few laps of no one bridging and it being too early.

Another prime came up and I was too far back to do anything. 2 people went for the prime and then kept going. I tried to bridge, but failed. I was between groups for another couple of laps.

I sat in for a few minutes and recovered, as another chase group went past me. I let them go.

Another prime was called, and the first chase group got caught. A few others rolled off the front, and I hid from the wind and waited. As we got around the last bend, I gunned it and passed them trying to bridge up to the break.

I made it in about 2 laps, but the break gave up right around then. I waited for the chase group and went with them. No one wanted to work, so I went to the front and pulled on the prime lap. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone trying to take the prime. I said screw it and started sprinting. I got the prime.

We got pulled in right after that, and I hid for a few seconds. The bell lap was called, and I was done. I tried moving up so I could sprint for a win, but I got 6th. No gas left.

It felt good to be so aggressive instead of sitting in the race like I do so often. I think I'll be sticking to the B race from now and getting a handle on making moves.

I was surprised that I had so much left in my legs after the hard Pedal Power group ride yesterday.

I'm planning another monster workout for tomorrow, but I doubt that I'll do what I've planned.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Weekend Recap and Getting Cut Up (again)

I went home this past weekend to visit the folks and for my sister's 13th birthday. It was good to see everyone.

I did the road race for the Tour of Lancaster county. By 'did the road race' I mean that I got a DNF. There's a rough anaerobic hill on the course and hitting that for the 3rd time just caused me to blow. I chased and caught on after the hill, but a small hill right after that caused me to explode pretty spectacularly. I DNF'ed for the first time all year. Happens sometimes...

I had pre-regged for a circuit race on sunday, but the weather report wasn't promising at 5 am, and I didn't want to race in rain and thunderstorms. I went back to bed.

There's something about being home that just makes me feel completely exhausted and worthless. I have the hardest time motivating myself to ride or do anything. It's one of the funny reasons why I try to avoid going home for more than a day or two when I'm training. I plan them with my rest days, and go home and enjoy myself.
In other news, I have to start thinking of dates for the follow up plastic surgery that I have to have for my face. I'm trying to peak for the Tour of the Catskills in mid september, so I think I'm going to try to schedule the surgery for october or november. That allows for some time if something more needs to be done over the winter holidays.
I think I'll be looking for atleast a month off the bike, which will put me back to the same fitness I had in the early spring this year. Hopefully I can start training again in earnest in late December or early January so I can have some sort of fitness for the Bethel series.

I really don't want to go under the knife again because it means unnecessary time off the bike, but it'd be nice to have my face back again. Well, it'd be nice to not still have a broken nose in any event. Lets see how long the healing takes. I have a feeling that I'm going to be stupid and stubborn and hop onto the trainer to do some easy riding a few days after surgery. Getting outside to ride will be hard due to wind chill. I can't see that being good for nascent skin.

I guess I'll have to alternate between running, lifting, and riding on the trainer.
Then again, it's early August now, so I might as well enjoy the relative fitness while it's still there.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Completed Trek Rebuild

Here's what it looks like now.

The gearing is a little tougher than I'd thought.

46x16 (or is it 15) freewheel makes it a bit tough to get over the hills to campus from town. The fixed cog is one smaller than the freewheel. I haven't dared to go to down on that yet. I don't think I'd make it back up. The small hills are pretty tough on that ratio.

I like the build though. The single speed is a blast to ride around.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Adding to the Stable

In the fall of '07 I bought a 'beater' bike.

It turns out that this 84 trek 760 was their second best frame for the year. A beautifully made, lugged 531P Steel frame. It's actually pretty light, and it rode beautifully. Not quite the beater I was hoping for. So I set off to work.

That resulted in this.

Not bad for a restoration project.

Turns out that the bike fit me really well. So it was back to the drawing board.

The background is the bike room at wesleyan. I spend countless hours wrenching in there with a band of misfits that comprise the bike co-op.

This particular wrenching session resulted in the first bike I ever raced.

Ironically, it was also the first bike I ever broke my face on. But, no matter.

In any event, I just traded all the campy parts on the trek for a handmade steel cyclocross frameset and some parts. They should be getting here next week.

In addition, I dipped into my savings (aka splurged) and bought a used dura ace 7800 groupset for the parts I needed. This includes the shifters, FD, RD, and brakes. I also bought a single speed slash fixed gear conversion setup, which includes cranks, cogs, a fixed wheelset, and other goodies.

Needless to say, I'll be eating ramen for a good bit.

Now here's the confusing part...

My CAAD9 race bike is outfit with shimano 105 parts. I have to strip all those parts off, and rebuild the bike with Dura ace.

The Cross bike is getting the 105 goodies.

The trek 760 will be reborn yet again as a single speed/fixed gear getting around bike. Awesome.

Tomorrow, I'll play hookey from work and build up the fixed gear. Hopefully, I'll clock in a few hours.

I'll be home (philly) this weekend, and I don't want to mess with the race bike yet.
Next monday, I'll probably play hookey again and strip the CAAD9 and replace the 105 with dura ace.

Just in time for Tokeneke. Awesome!

Maybe I'll try a training crit on a fixed gear. I'll have to spin 140ish rpm to keep up with the pack, but I think it'd be hilarious.

I might just try it for the hell of it. Sounds like a blast!

Build pictures to come!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tour of the Hilltowns (TOTH) Report!

I did two intervals before I left my house in the morning. I had frozen my water bottles, which turned out to be an awesome idea.

2x nutella, peanut butter, strawberry jam, and raisin sandwich making intervals.

I drove to a teammates house and we carpooled to the race. His car was full of paraphernalia that his two daughters (3 and 4) have put everywhere. I saw land before time stickers and was instantly reminded of my little sister when she was that age. I'm 7 years older than her, so I watched her grow up through everything. Though I do need to call out my teammate on not watching the disney classics with his kids.

Dude, not going to call you out by name (Dennis), but the Lion King rocks!

The drive down to the race was good. It was a lot of fun talking to Dennis, and the time just flew by. I had remembered to write down the important landmarks of the race on my leg, so we talked about those a little bit.

We got to the race, registered, took care of business and started riding around a little bit.

Here's a course profile:

Here's when I made my biggest mistake. I lined up at the back and not at the front.

The race started, and I moved up a little bit. The first 20 miles were all downhill, but I had to work a lot harder than I would have had to if I had moved up earlier. A teammate at the back yelled at me to get up there, and I burnt a few matches to push my way up. It still wasnt enough.

Though the scarier part of the first 20 miles were the incessant flats and incessant loose bottles that kept flying everywhere. I ran over a couple. I'm glad to say that everyone handled themselves very well, and that there were no crashes.

When we hit the first little 'bump' at mile 20, the fabled Hawley Road climb, I couldn't see the leaders. My chances of catching them were over right then. The rest of the race was a test of survival and trying to catch the imaginary carrot that was always just a little too far away.

I kept my effort steady on the climb, always just around my threshold but trying not to go too far over it because there was a lot of racing left to go. I caught and passed a few people who got gassed on the climbs, and kept up my pace.

The pain was enormous, but I loved every second of it. I kept chugging along thinking of the awesome sandwiches that were waiting for me back at the car.

After the climb, I started cramping up a bit on my left leg. I unclipped my left foot on a little downhill and shook it out for all it was worth. Clipped back in, downed the rest of my drink, and swapped bottles to the bottle of water that was frozen to my back. Took a sip: Ice cold. I dumped some on my head: Utter bliss.

Half the race over. Chugging along, chugging along.

I pushed on ahead and ran into a few people spread out over the road. I yelled at them to grab my wheel and tried to start a paceline. This included me yelling at everyone to be smooth so we could keep going forward fast. This one guy I've raced with before always tried to show how strong he was by taking long hard pulls, blowing up, and completely ruining the paceline. Others would skip pulls at the front instead of skipping them by hanging on the back.

As disorganized as the group was, this was my group for the lead in to the finish.

At mile 44 or so, we got passed by a lone master's racer. I believe he won. He had a few minutes on the first chase group. Domination.

A few times someone would speed up a lot and rip apart the paceline and I had to close the gap. That started to hurt after a while. Keep thinking good thoughts. The harder you push, the faster you'll get those sandwiches.

OHH SANDWICHES! Must. Push. Harder!

I think our group of 10 fragmented with around 8 miles to go. I kept trying to ride at tempo and pushing at threshold for the hills.

Before I knew it, I saw the 1 KM to go sign. I was way out of contention for anything, but I decided to ramp it up. Coming around the final bend, I sprinted for all I was worth. I wanted to see what I could do after such a hard race. I could do nothing.

My back was killing me after the race. I couldn't really bend it for a few hours after the race. That was a little ridiculous.

All in all, a good day.

I'm looking forward to next weekend's circuit race, and tokeneke the following weekend.

I have a feeling that my calling is more towards crits and track racing (soon to try hopefully), but I've learned that I love road races and will continue to try to enjoy them. I need to work on my threshold a lot.

I think that's what this winter is going to be dedicated to. Lots and lots of threshold work. Hopefully I can do a few early season road races. Maybe this is a good reason to do more early season collegiate stuff. Just to rack on the road races.

As this season starts to 'wind down' a little, there are only a few races left and most of them aren't crits. It's a nice time to be changing gears a little bit and doing some road races for a change.

I'm really looking forward to trying a stage race later in the fall, and trying my hand at some cross racing around the same time to just do something not really related to road biking. I think getting off road every now and then will prove to be a good change of pace and allow me to be mentally fresher in the future. The same thing applies with track racing. Instead of sprint workouts, a day at the track every couple of weeks would be awesome.

This season isn't even over and I'm already dreaming about the next one!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Week Recap.

As I try to prepare for the beatdown my legs are bound to receive at the Tour of the Hilltowns on saturday, I sit at work reflecting on the last few races I've done.

I've come to realize that I peaked for about 3 weeks in june and did really well. Since then, no matter what I try doing, I can't get to the front of a race. That's ironic since the earlier season races were most people's target races, and my form was there. I wish I just had someone tell me what I was doing wrong with positioning. Some tactical blunders were made, and I rode with my nose in the wind a bunch, but no matter what I seem to have lost my uncanny ability to just find myself at the front. Ironically, that was around the same time that I swapped saddles and stopped using the old school flite saddles. As much as I might want to blame the saddle swap, I don't think that can be the issue. In any event, I certainly wouldn't go back to the flite. Even after 1k miles of riding it, I still had issues that would pop up more often than they should. I'll leave you and your imagination to figure out what those could have been.

I think I need some visual training, and I know just where to find it. There really is no substitute for good helmet cam footage as pre-race prep.
Thanks to Sprinterdellacasa (aka carpediemracing) for all his footage that is just awesome to watch.

In any event, I raced at Naugatuck this past sunday. I hadn't really been feeling well for the past few days with a bit of a fever, and hadn't ridden in the 2 days leading up to the race so my expectations weren't terribly high.

I drove down to the race with teammate Paul in his fly new car. We listened to some good tunes to pump ourselves up pre race. I need some heavy music to get me a little angry before a race, else I don't ride aggressively enough. Go figure.

We get down to the race, register, and start to warm up. I bump into a racer named Benjamin, whom I've raced with a few times. He's the one who heckled me before the Keith Burger crit and tried to psyche me out for the race. I haven't placed since. Go figure.

The race was delayed due to some cars on the course, so we kept on warming up. I was riding next to Ben when he sped ahead for a second. From the left another racer came flying onto his wheel, and I was behind him. A few moments later, I was on the ground. It turns out that Ben had bunny hopped a pothole and the guy behind him freaked and locked up his brakes.
My choices were:
a) Run into his cassette
b) Try gunning for the back of his tire and try moving left away from him

I went for b, and ended up on the ground. Some road rash on my knee, and the bike's bar tape was a little torn. Live and learn, no big deal. What really sucked was that the race officials didn't have a first aid kit on hand. I had to get paper towels, throw water on them and then use those to clean the dirt out of my wounds. I had wet wipes in the car, maybe I should have just gone and used those instead, but I wasn't really that concerned. The blood dried up soon enough, and I found myself lining up to race.

The course layout is interesting. The first turn is a sharp left turn into a downhill riddled with potholes. The second turn is another left where the apex is lined with potholes. This leads to a 2 hill ascent into another sharp left before the start finish line. That's a lap at Naugatuck. The course is a triangle littered with potholes.

As usual, Paul got bored with the race early and went on a few attacks. He picked up a prime and stayed away for another lap or two before he was caught.

My strategy was pretty stupid. I couldn't move up well, so I hit the gas on the uphill and tried to move up the windy stretch every few laps. I guess I was bored as well, and since I wasn't well, I didn't really have any illusions of grandeur. Needless to say, my legs started complaining towards the end of the race.

Somewhere with about 10 to go, a CCNS guy attacked and got away for a little bit. No one wanted to work together, so he was reeled in rather quickly.

With 2 to go, he attacked again, right next to me. I jumped on his wheel hoping that we could stay away for a bit. We gapped the field a bit and he sat up.

Wait. What?

Why he sat up is beyond me, maybe he wanted to thin the herd down for a cleaner sprint?

I kept at it, with 2 'blue' teammates in front of me. Coming around the hills, one of them sat up to give his 'leader' a gap. That was a dumb idea. He would have been better served working. I shot around them both only to be by myself, where I quickly faded and got gobbled up by the pack.

I had barely reintegrated myself when Paul shot another attack. It was a well timed catch and release, and he had a good gap going till he blew up with about half a lap to go, his early attacks and prime hunting being his undoing.

As the pack caught him, I tried to move up on the hills once more. No dice. I blew up and sat up. I was too far back to do anything noteworthy, and there's never any point sprinting for a place out of the top 10.

I tried a real attack for the first time in a race. It was awesome. I went too early, but I think I can do well with a better timed attack. Lets see what the future holds.

I came home after that race feeling pretty exhausted and wiped out, which is unusual for me since I normally do 2 of these back to back without issue. Riding while sick, heh.

I'm hoping I can hang out with the lead group on saturday, but skinny climber I am no longer. I guess I might have to settle for the gruppetto.

That's bike racing.

It'll be the first real road race I've ever done, and I'm excited for it, hills and all.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Quote Check

I haven't written about this much, but I figure it's fitting.

At the end of last april, I had a bad bike wreck that forced me to leave Wesleyan for the semester. Like, 'falling off the bike face first at 45 mph coming downhill resulting in multiple broken bones in my face and 4 broken teeth and still have more surgeries a year after' bad. I was off the bike till september, aside from a few stints on the trainer and a couple of late evening easy spins outside. I managed to finish all but one of my classes, and actually raised my grade point average. I had a lot of time on my hands with no riding to do.

I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if that wouldn't have happened, and sometimes I've wondered if it would have been better off/or worse. Then I realized that it just 'is'. That being said, I wouldn't wish it upon anyone else.

I learned a lot about myself in those months and continue to do so, I think I'm much more dedicated in all avenues of my life since then. I remember watching the olympics and tearing up every.single.time. that commercial came up that featured the African runner who got cramps in an event and had to limp to the finish. His father came out of the stands and helped him cross.

With all that out of the way, here's to the quotes.

There are a few that I've found just hit me in the past year;

1) Here we are, (Mr.Pilgrim), trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.

For a few moments, there was inevitably a time when I wondered 'Why me', only to realize that you're dealt a hand and you can either play it well or play it poorly. I tried pretty hard to make the most of the hand that I was dealt. I'm still trying to do that.

We often waste time wondering about the what if's and the what if nots, and questioning our decision making. While questioning yourself is generally a good thing, delving too much into the 'why' of times past can sometimes hinder the process of moving forward. At certain times, we shouldn't wonder why we're placed in the position we're in, we just need to make the most of it or risk losing out.

I've been trying hard.

2) So it goes.

Someone pointed out that Vonnegut uses this phrase to talk about death as a play on the human minds inability to comprehend mass numbers. We know what a thousand is, but when we hear that a thousand people died, we can't process the number. Statistics aren't natural, I suppose.

At the risk of sounding naive, I think he also intended readers to think about the fact that things sometimes just happen and you can't really control everything.

3) We will never be here again.

If you know about Svein Tuft, you know about his unorthodox rise to the pro ranks. This phrase is something he has tattoo'ed on his arm.

I believe in moments, and making the most of the ones you have so you don't regret anything. At the end of the day, if you can tell yourself that you did everything you could, then you'll sleep a little easier. I do anyway.

I think about this everytime I race. As I'm dying dying dying in a race, I think of the fact that I'm in a moment I chose to be in (and paid for!) so I should be making the most of it. I don't gain anything by giving up so I might as well do everything I can and give it more than I've got.

I suppose this doesn't stand if I feel I have no chance. I'll sit up in a race if I have a position that's not worth fighting for. Then again, I think I'm going to stop doing this if I'm not endangering myself or others because learning to move up when the pace is tough will team me a lot. I owe that to myself.

That's all I've got for today.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Races and a little sprinting thought

No grocery money today.

The most eventful thing in my race was a bit of yelling that occurred on the back stretch leading up the the start/finish line early in the race. Since I was bored, I yelled out, "Why can't we be friends." And started singing that song. One of my teammates joined in from across the bunch and joined in.

Alas, no one else did. Though I'm pretty sure that I heard a few snickers.

That's about it for the races.

Felt good, but didn't have a shot to go for anything so I sat up. I'm going to play my hand differently from now on. I know how I work, and I'm going to stick to it. That's that.

Now for the sprinting thought:

I've had a few guys ask me what and how to sprint train so I figured I'd just shoot you all an email.

First, if you don't have a great sprint, don't waste your time trying to improve it too much as you'll make your other abilities suffer. Someone like Sebastian will be the first to tell you that he barely does any training for it. If he did, he'd interconvert some type 2 muscle fibers and end up losing some of his threshold and TT ability. Aka NOT worth it.


That being said I like doing 3 things.
1) Find a slight downhill that leads to a flat section or a slight uphill. Use this to get up to speed, lets say about 20 mph, or even 30ish mph depending on what you're going for. Sit in a gear you can spin at about 110-120 when you're seated and when the road starts to level up and you feel more resistance, then stand and gun it.
This helps with your leg speed and simulates what it's like to be sprinting at the end of a fast crit since speeds are often in the 35ish mph zone.

2) Find a slight uphill, and sprint up it in a gear or two harder than you would. Pull up on your bars and try to rip them off your stem.
This will train leg strength and utilizing your arms. You can add 100 watts to your sprint if you use your arms right, more if you're not as scrawny as I am.
Also, make sure everything is tight when you do this ;)

3) On the road, start from around 5 mph in your little ring in the middle of the cassette. Jump as hard as you can and spin as fast as you can without shifting. Try hitting 200 rpm. You're basically spinning like mad and feeling almost no resistance at the end. Stop after about 20-30 seconds.
This helps train leg speed and your 'jump'.


I'm not terribly familiar with doing these or being a part of a successful one, but there are 2 ways I think a leadout should work.

1) Designated leadout person isn't feeling great and thinks they're going to blow before the sprint, so instead, they take their sprinter to the front and then promptly blow up.

2) Team masses at the front with 3-4 people with 2-3 laps to go. One person pulls as hard as they can for 1 lap stringing out the field while shielding teammates behind them.
They pull off when they blow.
This continues till the last corner before the finish, or a little after depending on the course, when the last guy in front pulls off and the sprinter is relatively fresh for the finish.

Blowing up during a leadout

If you're trying to lead someone out and you blow or can't do it for whatever reason. I think it's a good idea to either flick your elbow furiously and/or give a thumbs down behind you. That way, you did what you can and helped and it's up to the person behind you to figure the rest out for themselves.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Tour Is in Full Force

Did anyone really see that coming?

Contador destroys the TT, yes he destroys it. Sure, he got beaten by good ole boy Fabian, but that's not a big deal. Fabian won't last on the climbs and he won't be able to make enough bank in the TT's to win. It'll be awesome if he gets on the podium, but it won't be in yellow.

Then it happens. The epic break in a flat stage where breaks weren't supposed to succeed. Columbia drills it in the crosswinds and the peloton is in shambles. A break of about 27 riders gets away. And who's in there but Lance...

Yes. Lance. Not Contador. Contador was supposedly hanging out in the back of the field when the break went. I.e. Not the place for a GC hopeful. Now, Lance is ahead of contador in the GC by almost 20 seconds. Sure it's not that much, but it brings a new twist to the Astana leadership debacle.

Lance just proved that he has some tactical know how that Contador seems to be missing. No doubt Contador is still better than Lance in the TT's and on the 'hills' but if the team is working for Lance, then all that goes out the window. Remember Lance playing super domestique to Levi in the Giro? That was a bit embarrasing for Levi, but Lance's form has been coming back.

Now with the TTT tomorrow, Lance and Contador will stay the same in the GC relative to each other, but others might move up and around. Doubtful though, since Astana can hold their own in the TTT. I think they might be my favorite for the win, but CSC will probably give them a good run for the money. You have to admit that having 4 guys in the top 10 after the prologue is pretty good. Astana came in with great form.

Now the question is, who will lead them?

With all that in mind, mad props to Cavendish. His form is disgusting at this point of time. I hope he makes it to Paris in Green. As a wanna-be sprinter, it boggles my mind to see how fast these guys are after a full day of racing. My favorite sprinter is and will always be McEwen, due to his knack for performing well with little or no team support. Cavendish needs a train to get up to speed, but hopefully with time his tactician sense will grow and he'll be able to do more damage on his own.

Something about McEwen's ego also strikes out. Perhaps I like him because I watched a fan made sprint video of his set to the song 'firestarter' by Prodigy again and again and again. I still love that video, too bad the song was taken out due to copy right issues. Bummer.

That's the thing about sprinters though, you HAVE to have a bit of an ego. If you don't think that you're good enough to be the guy to win, you will never have what it takes to be there when the pushing and shoving begins. That's what I've learnt from watching McEwen. He came/comes off as a bit of a jackass, but he is *just* that damn good.

Cavendish's performance (I.e. win) at Milan San-Remo this year has already shown that he has what it takes to be a good classics rider in addition to being 'just' a sprinter. I love the rivalry with Boonen. It makes things interesting.

Columbia's new sponsor HTC has already received their money's worth with the sponsorship. Here's why:

(Hint: HTC makes cell phones)

I can't believe he actually did that. So freaking badass!

Contador Vs. Lance for Astana Leadership.
Thor et al Vs. Cavendish for Green jersey and stage wins.

This is going to be an awesome tour.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Keith Berger Crit: Sometimes, you gotta sit up

Interesting day. Uneventful race.

Interesting day for a few reasons, the best one being the following:

I show up to the course and start pinning on my number. I was standing and chatting with a guy (lets call him red kit) I've raced against a few times, and as these things often go, we've built up a sort of camaraderie. The usual ball busting and 'hey how have your races been' kind of chatter. We give each other space in a race if we're near each other, and I'd let him in front of me if he was caught in the wind in a non crucial lap.

Simply put, we respect each other.

What was hilarious today, was that another racer (with whom I'm on similar terms, lets call him blue kit) came up to me today and said, "so I'm going to crush you today right." Wait, what?
I replied, "I'm here to make friends, not enemies." We had a good little laugh, and it was funny because red kit joined in. Harsh, dudes...

I'm pretty tempted to put in some red vs blue right now, but I'll let you do the honors and just link a youtube search. Enjoy. It's incredible.


As for the race:

We lined up, as everything was getting under way, I let out a huge burp. Alright, maybe two burps. This was followed by a wonderful quote from Shrek. "Better out than in I always say."

Broke the ice a little bit and everyone laughed. I should burp more often.

And so the race began.

I did zone out for a second and almost kept going straight at a turn. That would have been terrible, but it didn't happen.

I didn't feel right at all. I wasn't having any issues making attempts, but I just didn't feel 'right'.

I started in the back again, and tailgunned for a little bit. I really need to stop doing that. For some reason, the old noggin' wasn't working and it took me a few laps to figure out the course. That's a little ridiculous...

Turns out that the sprint would have suited me. Corners 3 and 4 come pretty quickly and you have to hold position coming into and out of both of them to have any shot at anything. I like long sprints, so jumping right after the last corner was my plan.

I moved up slowly through the ranks.

I ended up gaining position coming through the start/finish lap, but ended up expending too much energy in the wind since I was on the outside every time. Shoulda been on the inside as I was a few times.

With 2 to go, I was at the front. Big mistake. I tried to get into some shelter and managed to get on a teammates wheel. Good.


My teammate adjusted position to avoid a pothole, which is fine since he had the room. As a result, however, he moved right in front of the guy next to me. I lost my wheel.

I drifted back to try and hide for a little bit.

In the last lap, I desperately tried to move up yet again. As did the rest of the field.

Perhaps too desperately.

I jumped on someone's wheel and followed them onto the outside. All of a sudden, I found the field shifting and adjusting. The inside was pushing out. I had to brake. Hard.

I managed to complete the turn inches away from the curb. Phew!

I looked up the road and I was about a third of the way back. I see red kit go hard on the outside again and I get on his wheel. He weaves a little bit to get where he wants to go. We have a stretch of road and two corners left to go before the finish.

I look around me. I'm still a third of the way back. If I push now, I'll be able to get into the top ten, but go backwards when the sprint starts. I.e., I'll probably be a hazard to those around me.

I sit up. I finish 2nd last in 44th.

I've had a good few weekends. Now it's some time to build up some strength again and dive back in when the time is right. Not for a little bit though, I'm exhausted...

After the race, I watched the other races while marshalling. We (CVC) put on the race, so I did my part to help out. It was a good day!

It got even better after I got home since my housemates decided to take a trip to Millers Pond to go for a late night swim. What a way to end a weekend.

An Aside

A few people asked what I had written on my legs today.

I had two quoted, one on each leg, for motivation.

One, on left leg, from Kurt Vonnegut's 'Slaughterhouse Five':

"Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why."

Two, from Svein Tuft (

"We will never be here again."

I looked down at them a few times when I was pushing hard.

I'll post later this week about what those quotes mean to me as they're the only 2 sets of words that I know will be permanent for me.

For today, I should add the other favorite quote from Vonnegut:
"So it goes..."

Aside 2

Supposedly, people actually read this thing. I don't quite believe this. You know that you can periodically comment to let me know you actually exist right?

So comment!
Maybe??? (Pretty please??)

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Thompson Motor Speedway Crit today.

Cat 4. Finishd 6th.


Cambridge Team (black/white kit) did a great job blocking. They'd send a guy up the road and then go to the front and block at the same time. That's reasonable.

What I was frustrated by was not the blocking, which is totally legit, but the disruption of chase groups.

See, when a chase forms and you have a rider off the front, then it's logical that you join the chase and do 0 work. That way, if the chase catches the break, then you have 2 in a break. Wonderful.

What I think is ridiculous is getting in a chase group and rotating through and then setting a false tempo at the front thereby blocking in a chase group... There's a difference between not pulling and actively disrupting a chase. I think the latter, while a good tactic, is pretty unsportsmanlike. There's a difference between not working, and physically hindering the efforts of others.

Then a guy from a team I won't name, was cooked with 1.75 laps to go. So after drifting back from the front, he tried to nudge his way into the strung out 'field' instead of just going to the back or filling a gap. He almost caused a crash. He also knocked me out of my protected slot and forced me to go around him and lose my wheel since he was physically in the way.

I proceeded to have to burn a match in the wind unshielded. After that I picked the wheel of someone who was cooked for the sprint, and ended up sprinting on the windy side for 6th. 5th guy beat me by half a wheel. Ugh.

All said and done, it was a good race. I took a more active role in the race and did my part to chase down breaks and attack.

Hopefully I'll be recovered some for the crit tomorrow. I'm hoping to do well or help someone on the team do well if I'm tired.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Another Race weekend.

Since the weather just turned to mush an hour ago, I'm going to muse for a bit. It literally went from 80 degrees to 65 degrees and pouring rain, lightning, crazy wind, in about 20 minutes. New england summers, I don't get you... Thunderstorm galore!

So I muse:

I think this is my last race weekend for atleast one week. I.e. I'm not racing next weekend.

That's good and bad. Good because I'll have some time to hang out with the family. I'm headed down for a reunion in Virginia Beach. Bad because the start of july marks the end of dual crit weekends in the area. I.e. less opportunities to get points for the upgrade.

I've been seeing good form over the last couple of weeks, and taking a week mostly 'off' the bike will ensure that it's gone. That means it'll be much much harder to do well in races for atleast a 2 weeks period since I'll need to do some sort of build again. Besides, a lot of things turn to road races at that point of time. The last road race I did was last march...

That being said, I'm looking forward to the hilly road races. The ones where I'll get my behind kicked and I'll be trying my best to be there at certain crucial moments where a teammate might need something. I doubt I'm going to be a player in any of those races...

So, Thompson CT crit tomorrow and CVC's very own Keith Berger crit on sunday. Looks like I have two races where I can make something happen.

Carpe diem!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I am Jack's complete lack of strength

I'm weak. I'm coming to terms with that.

The 'B' training crit last night was really difficult for me. I almost got dropped and as I was closing a gap right at the back I got yelled at by an 'A' teammate helping with the race and then he shoved me forward and told me to get on that wheel.

I worked harder all race than I can remember and that seems to be the case for most of my races including the whaling city crit. This was a little different though, since I was just under my threshold for about 30 minutes straight. While that doesn't seem like a terribly long interval, it was during a crit so there were intermediate sprints and such thrown in. It hurt.

Right before one of the primes, I found myself on the wheel of teammate Dave C who looked back, saw my nod, and went. I got my first bonafide leadout, and it rocked rocked rocked.

I launched at like 28 mph into a headwind and got up to around 34.5mph into the headwind for the sprint. That was the last sprint I had left in me for the night.

I sat up after the first corner post prime. And the pack soon caught up.

I was a little beat up after the prime and breathing heavily through my mouth while making all sorts of wheezing-ish noises. I managed to recover enough to ride well again in 2 laps, and the 5 to go cards were put up soon after.

Since CVC had a LOT of people in the field, we had talked about doing a leadout at the finish, but an early attack by another rider strung out the field and the quicker pace had gassed a lot of people. I was one of those people, but I want to see how hard I can push myself when I'm in pain and so I came out of the last corner and started pushing harder.

There were a bunch of gaps opening up as riders were trying to get to the front. I took advantage of this by hopping from wheel to wheel, shielded from the wind coming on the outside, and then jumped when I saw no more wheels on the left but a few guys on the outside. Teammate Kim provided the launching pad, and I went as hard as I could go. It was a pretty pitiful attempt in all honesty, but it was still good for 2nd. I guess I can still muster up some gas when fried. That's good to know.

Biggest learning experience of the day:
Gaps that were once there might be gone by the time you find yourself filling them in.

Out of the 2nd corner towards the middle of the race, I was on the outside and I was coming around a few people on an open lane. I didn't realize it, but the inside was kinda squeezing out a little bit and I ended up bumping into a teammate who wasn't happy with it at all (duh?). Rightly so...

So note to self and others, watch for the outside or inside squeeze right before/during/after cornering. You don't want to be caught making a mistake when something like that happens.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mystic Velo Weekend: More misadventures. Aka, the long bike ride home...

"What the hell are you doing?", I yelled at the over eager mystic velo rider as he took the non existant inside line once again. He pushed me into the other riders lap after lap after forcing his way where he didn't belong. I started shutting the door on him soon after. There's no reason to be that freaking aggressive at a crit, especially if it's your own race...

I was in Charlestown, RI, racing the Mystic Velo Criterium in ninigret state park. The course layout was simple enough, and the lack of curbs made the race much safer. I had driven down early to warm up after a rest week that had left me feeling sluggish. As I rode around the course, I took note of the wind. At the start/finish line, the wind was coming from the right, so the inside was the most shielded after the last corner. After the second corner, the outside was better for hiding. I should have told my teammate Chris Adams this before his race, but I caught him just as his race was about to start, so I just wished him good luck instead.

My race wasn't terribly eventful, which is a good thing. As we were lining up my friend and new teammate Paul comes up to me and says, "Me and the guys are going to go attack in the first few laps and lap the field. You're welcome to join if you want."
"No thanks," I tell him, "but you're welcome to lead me out when you get caught."

I feel sluggish during the race and realize that I'm at the back of the field every now and again. I can move up fine, but I have a hard time maintaining position. I just don't see the need to be that aggressive till the last five laps or so. I don't get it sometimes, but maybe I should try practicing holding my position.

As promised, Paul and his friends go on a break. I try waking up my legs and move up to go join them. As I bridge, the field starts chasing and we're caught soon enough. I'm the link between the field and the break and I feel like giving the guys in the break a shot at making it. I start to slow down with the field on my wheel. I let the gap open up, blocking for everyone, and then pull off to make someone else chase if they feel like it. The break didn't get organized, and were reeled back. 12 to go. Atleast my legs are functioning again.

"When do you want me to find you?," Paul asks me a few laps later.
"I'll start moving up with around 5 to go. No, make that 3 to go," I respond as I hide in the pack.
"Alright, he says."
10 to go.

I stay on his wheel, trying to hold on. His lines are good, but he's positioned on the wrong side of the field. I gain position, but lose the effeciency of the draft by moving up the windy stretches. "Too early to burn this many matches," I think to myself as I move back into the pack.

With 3 to go, I find myself pushed onto the grass. "Yahoo, grass surfing!" I yell as the guys beside me crack up. I find Paul again and stick to his wheel.
"Why does that dude in front of me keep looking back?," another rider asks me. I fight the urge to say "I dunno, maybe he thinks you're cute," and shrug instead. I was on Paul's wheel, and 'that dude' was going to lead me out. With 2 to go, I was in the front half of the field. With 1 to go, I was in the top 10. "The sprint is mine," I thought coming in. I was tired, but none of that matters on the last lap. I got separated from Paul. He went the windward side again. I needed to save that match.

Then it happens. The inevitable inside squeeze. I'm pushed onto the grass on the 2nd last corner of the race. "Dammit," I shout out loud, as I lose all the position I'd fought to gain. The field is strung out, and I manage to hop back onto the course. I know it takes us about 25 seconds to get to the finish after the last corner at 25 miles an hour, from my counting a few laps prior. That doesn't matter now though. I've lost too much ground.

Then again, I'm on the shielded side coming out of the last corner. 25 seconds is too long for me to sprint, but it's my only shot. I go, standing up on the pedals with all my might. My legs start to give up, and I sit back down, shift to a harder gear, and stand up again. I guess I crossed a few guys coming out of that turn because I finished 5th again. Not bad, I'll take it.

After the race, I join Paul and his friends to cheer on the juniors. We arrange a granola bar prime and run around screaming after them to go faster. We were trying to get a collegiate atmosphere going, and I think they liked it. At one point, I took off my jersey and chased one of the Mullaly girls with it flapping in the wind behind me. I was annoyed that a guy was trying to shake her from his draft. They weren't even in the same race, and he was being stupid.

Paul's friends had to take off, so we (me, paul, and his girlfriend) decided to go grab lunch together. As I pull out of the state park and join the highway, my car gives up. Again.

With Paul's help we call a tow truck and wait. I treat Paul and his girlfriend to lunch for being awesome and for Paul's attempted leadout. We hang out and talk/eat for a bit, and they leave as the tow truck shows up.

The drive to the repair shop is hilarious. The driver tells dirty jokes and says that "kids today have too much sex. Where were all these girls when I was younger?" I nod while trying not to burst out laughing as he launches into a stream of consciousness-esque tyrade. He totally went there. Hilarious.

The repair shop lets me know that the repair's going to cost atleast 800 bucks. Later they tell me it's going to be a cool thousand. Broken distributor. That's what I get for writing about economics in my last entry... Time to start looking for another car...

Paul had offered me a ride home. "Can I bring my bike?," I ask. "We'll make it fit," he says. I don't like the sound of that. It's 3:00 pm. I tell him I'll call him back after talking to the shop.

"Can you fix the car today?," I ask the shop, "I need to be home by 8." Turns out that they don't have the part.

I consider the options. Drive home with Paul with the possibility of leaving my bike in my car. Or...

I run to nearest burger king. I buy 2 burgers off the dollar menu and the biggest cup of coke. I run back to my car, change into my CVC kit and fill up my bottles. I have one bottle of water, one of energy drink, and two of coke. I leave my pants and jacket in the back seat, and pack my messenger bag with the essentials: drinks, burgers, wallet, gps, and arm/leg warmers.

I call Paul. "Dude, I'm going to ride home. How should I go about it?"
"Well," he says, "Take route 1 south all the way and then take 154 home."
Sounds easy enough.

I head back riding at tempo. I need to be careful not to bonk on the journey home, as I've already raced pretty hard. I expect the trip to be about 60 miles.

I admire the glimpses of scenery as I ride home on Rt. 1 S. I stop to ask people for directions every now and then, and stop for a burger around 2 hours into the ride. There are a few bridges on the ride, and Paul had warned me about them. Route 1 merges with I 95 before the bridge. I can't find the way to the sidewalk he'd mentionned so I keep riding.

Too late. I find myself on the shoulder of the 4 lane highway. Up ahead is an exit where 3 lanes of cars are entering from.

I am all that Jack fears.

I get lucky, there's no traffic so I scamper across the road and rejoin the shoulder. This happens again at the next bridge.

After I'm calmed down enough, I knock on the window of a car as I'm stopped at a red light.
"How do I get to middletown?," I ask.
"Oh, you don't want to keep going this way. Take this right and head back on 154 and look out for signs."
I thank them and turn right.

In my trance like state, I blindly follow signs for middletown. I find myself where I really should not be: on route 9. A major highway.

I stop on the shoulder to reevaluate where I am and eat my last burger. As I'm finishing up, I see sirens.
A cop pulls up to me and asks me what the heck I'm doing on the highway.
"I'm sorry sir, I've been trying to find my way home from Charlestown, RI, and someone told me to head up this way when I asked for directions."
"You're not supposed to be here," he counters.
"Trust me sir, I don't want to be. I'm not from around here. Can you please tell me where I should go?" I ask.
"Give me your license," he demands.
I hand it over. He puts my ID into the system.
"Do you ride on the highway in Pennsylvania too?," he asks.
"I've never had my car break down so far away from home before sir," I respond.
He hands back the license.
"You're going to go back down this way and take this exit off. Go left, and keep going till you hit 154. Take that home."
"Thank you sir."

I turn around and head back. On the shoulder going the wrong way, I hit a sewer drain. It's one of those ones perfectly wide enough for your tires. My tires go through it and hit hard metal. PSSSSHHHTTTTT is the sound my tubes make as I get a pinch flat. Luckily it's only on the rear. My one tube came in handy.

I repair the tube, and head back on 154.
The rest of the ride is quite uneventful. No highways, no nothing. Just a scenic stressless route on the way home. I have to call a friend on the way back. I won't make it back in time to go out for a movie with her tonight.

The rain had been coming in off and on all day, but it picks up as I head close to home. I'm soaked, but I make it home at 8:15 just before it gets dark.

I make the requisite mom call to let my parents know I'm alive, and head in for a shower beer in hand. Beer shower, as my housemates call it. I freaking deserve it.

Total for the day:
20 miles racing. 5th.
70 miles riding home. Tired and hungry.
About 3400 KCal burned. I eat to my hearts content and then eat some more.

This summer seems to be filled with all sorts of unexpected adventures. I've been enjoying myself, but I think it's time to start looking for another car...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Life and Cycling

This is going to be a non-typical post as I move towards writing a little bit more about life in order to keep some friends and family in the loop. Here goes!


I have to start off by saying that I'm really going to miss some of my coworkers/bosses. I'm spending this summer working (breaking even) at the community health center in middletown. It's a no frills health center with a motto that strikes a chord with me, "health care is a right, not a privilege." Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?

My task is basically to fill in the cracks that require filling. I do mostly data entry, taking information gathered from multiple studies and inputting them into a database. The studies that we've been working with are to gauge fitness and implement obesity prevention initiatives in elementary schoolers. I basically input all the data. Some of the entry work is pretty hilarious, as students are asked to state whether plants or animals are better food. I'm sure you can imagine the heart wrenching responses.

Some of the funniest/cutest ones I've seen so far are:

-I guessed.
-Animals are god's children too. We can't eat god's children!
-Because if we eat plants we don't kill animals.

You get the picture.

Back to my coworkers. One of my friends yesterday needed my ID badge to get back into the building after his lunch break. I was making fun of him, as his ID card doesn't work, and I was trying to convince him to make me a PBJ in exchange for all the times I'd lent him my card. In jest of course.

My boss, Marie, overheard me saying this to him. About 10 minutes after he left, I had a delicious PBJ sandwich presented to me. Thanks Marie!

My coworkers have also been presenting me with buy one get one free subway sandwich cards. I think they all know how much I ride and need to eat. It's pretty amusing.

As I had said, I'm going to miss them. They were all here working under a grant, and will be leaving with the completion of that grant. I think most of them are shuffling around in the organization, so I'm hoping to stay in touch with them all soon.


As a cyclist, I eat a ton. Groceries are starting to get a lot more expensive than I thought they would. I was shocked to see that my bargain hunting skills changed the price of my weekly booty from $98 to $76. Unfortunately, I'm probably going to have to go back and buy more lunch meat soon or I won't have my daily lunch sandwich...

I splurged a little the other day when I bought 3 packs of chicken breast. They were all on sale (half price!) because it was close to their sell by date, so of course I had to buy 3. Usually, I just end up buying ground chicken or beef since it's really easy to cook a ton of that with vegetables and eat that with pasta and pasta sauce.

Back to the chicken breast. One was made into chicken biryani with a friend, I made orange chicken with the second, and I cooked (attempted to) a sort of indian chicken curry with the third. Well, the chicken curry wasn't much of a curry and I had to let the sauce evaporate off because it wasn't thick enough. Luckily, it still tasted pretty good. I've been lucky that way, and haven't had terribly bad cooking experiments. That's a good thing considering that I've never really used a recipe book for cooking, even though I bookmark recipes all the time. I really should call my dad and ask him how he makes the curry. I feel that the ladies would be far more impressed with my cooking prowess if I could cook indian food. That being said, I miss eating homemade indian food. A lot of it such as Daal (lentils) are also quite easy to make in bulk and store either in the fridge or frozen. Add rice, and you're good to go.

As I tend to eat a ton, and days with 3-4 hr rides don't lend themselves well to cooking, I end up cooking in bulk often. I'll cook up enough veggies/meat for 3 or so days of food and cook pasta as needed. I started doing this during the school year because it was cheaper to cook, and I enjoy eating food that I prepare instead of random stuff at the cafeteria.

I've also taken a big brown box and started storing my food in there. This way, I'll have my own stash of food that my housemates will hopefully stay away from, and if I have my own food, I'm less likely to devour all their food when I come back starving after a 4 hour ride. I think the latter is more worrying. I do sometimes splurge and buy enough bread for the house, and bought a ton of pasta recently. I'm probably going to have to have one of my housemates buy me a big bottle of cheap red or white wine. I'm running out of cooking wine, and I have a feeling that the cooking wine is going to be much more expensive than a bottle of cheap wine, not to mention more versatile...


More on the break-even summer.

I wanted this summer to be my stint as a bike racer, but there's one big difference: I have a job lined up at school in the fall so I can afford to break even.

Let's think about this for a second...

I'm 20, and I'm at the stage of my life where I'm content being broke. I quite like it. Currently, working about 35ish hours a week, I make about 270 bucks a week at my job after taxes. I've had better jobs at home, but I wanted to stay in Middletown with friends and race in the area I know best. Let's go with 1000 a month, okay?

I pay 350 bucks a month for rent.
I'm down to 650 bucks.
I budget about 100 bucks a week for food expenses. Down to 250 bucks.

And the rest is pretty much going to racing fees, travel, and misc expenses. So it's pretty much the break even summer. Even then I've gotten lucky and managed to break even on two weekends of racing. That was pretty nice!!!

A few weeks ago, my car broke down and I had to pay 550 bucks to get it repaired. Now, I'd be in the red. Luckily, I had my last paycheck from a job at school come in and it footed the bill since it was a once a month check. If that hadn't come in, I would have had to dip into the emergency fund. I don't want to go below a set 'basal' amount in my bank account this entire summer just so I can get a hold of everything. I feel that a lot of my generation and the one before me has a knack for living out of their means, and I'd like to see how well I'd manage with just the bare minimum. I'm pretty sure getting around 1000 a month is pretty close to that.

I still have a huge advantage though.I can still get health insurance off my parents for the summer. I don't even want to think about how many more hours I'd have to put in if I wanted to be able to afford that as well.

After graduation next year, it's a whole different ball game. I've been thinking about grad school for a while, but I don't want to go straight after college. I figure I'm going to be content being broke for a bit, so I might as well have some adventures during that time. I think I want to stick around in the Middletown area and train and race for a year or two. That is unless I can land a job in Austin or SoCal. That would be divine!

Just thinking about this has given me so much respect for the athletes that are trying to 'make it' in this sport. I enjoy this and I'm trying to have some fun with it for a few years before heading back into the 'real world' but this is their real world.

Respect. Respect. Respect.

I wish them success.

Cycling: Rest Week.

I've been on a rest week this week, which I was really looking forward to. I took a short recovery ride on monday, took off tuesday, and did some light tempo and lactate threshold work on weds and thurs. Today's another recovery day.

I was thinking that I'd really enjoy this time of less riding, but I really don't like it. After 4 weeks of harder riding, my body started getting used to having a tougher workload and liked the increased volume. I've been feeling really sluggish this entire week, and was sore for the first time after a workout on thursday morning. I've also been sleeping a lot more lately and waking up feeling tired. I don't know how I feel about rest weeks. I think I'm going to start taking some more time off the bike and/or do other things in addition to riding on rest weeks. I'd love to go hiking with my friends or go out and play frisbee or tennis and I haven't done that at all this summer. I'm only 20, I might as well take advantage of my body's ability to recover.

I'm not sure how the next two weeks are going to go. I'm racing 2-3 times next weekend, and the weekend after that is going to be a pseudo rest week since I'll be in Virginia beach almost all week at a family gathering. There are a few good group rides in the area, so I think I'm going to head out to a group ride everyday and hopefully be able to latch on for some tougher ones. Hopefully there will be a race or two that I can go to either during the week (thursday nighter?) or on saturday. We'll see. I can't do fitchburg, which is a huge bummer since it's an awesome stage race and I feel like I'm finally seeing some good form. I guess my body loves the volume. I'll have plenty of time to race and train till mid august when I start up training at school. I'm hoping I can still keep up the training and racing schedule going till the season ends in the fall. Hopefully I can help a few guys on the team get some points as well.

As for this weekend, I'm racing in Charlestown, RI this weekend. Doing the Mystic Velo crit in ninigret. It might be rainy, so I'm going to watch the weather before heading down. There are also two good races in NYC this weekend, but I'm not heading to those since a 4 hr round trip is really unnecessary. I'm also missing the Housatonic Hills Road race this weekend, which is a huge bummer because I'd love to do a hilly road race. I'm a little leery about fast descents. My confidence in my descending ability isn't back yet, and I'd rather take things one at a time. It's supposed to rain on sunday as well, and doing my first road race in over a year in the pouring rain on a hilly course doesn't sound like a good time.

Oh well.

Off to RI tomorrow!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Whaling City Cyclone Crit Report

Alarm goes off. The incessant noise of my cell phone's shrill tone, screaming at me to get out of bed. It's 5:15 AM. Not college time.

I look out of the window. Damn. Rain. Terrible weather for a technical criterium. The whaling city cyclone they call it.

For some reason, I head downstairs, get ready and grab some breakfast, then head back upstairs to lazy up in front of the computer. I end up eating breakfast and deciding to go back to sleep again. Everything seems to be off: the weather, my sluggishness, but the legs are there. I reset my alarm to wake me up at 6. I figure I should head out at 6:15.

I'm up again, and I can't find the address. After 20 minutes of trying, I give up. It's 6:45. It'll be 7 before I hit the road.

I eat a poptart or two on my way to New London, CT in the pouring rain. This is going to be terrible, I think. I hate racing crits in the rain...

I call my mom at 7:40 to get the address as I near New London. She answers and checks on the computer, dazed at my wake up call. She understands though, she was watching me at nutmeg yesterday. I get the address, and she goes back to sleep. Thanks mom.

I reach the course and pull in at 7:50. My start time is at for the 4/5 race. It's still pouring...

"This isn't going to happen," I think to myself as I park and get out. I decide to forfeit the 4/5 race. I listen to my parents sometimes, and this was one of those times. My mom had heard the rain when I was stopped asking her for an address and she told me not to race if it was pouring. I willingly oblige. I hate crits in the rain. Did I mention that already?

I go and hang out at the start finish line for a bit, chatting with the neutral support crew. I pick up my number. 619. Awesome. I'm going to pin this on upside down just because I can. I love when things like this happen: palindrome numbers, 13's, 7's, numbers that are the same upside down. They excite me for some strange reason.

I find some reason to like my number before every race. Whether I add up the digits and like the total or one of the above reasons, I like my numbers. It's my number. Besides, thinking about my number helps to ease my pre-race jitters.

The 4/5 race finishes in the pouring rain. I watch the finish from the neutral support area, glad to not be part of the suffering. "I'll make my race in the 4's count," I think to myself. Out of the blue, the sun starts to emerge. Less 2 hours later, it's dry and sunny. I have 30 minutes to my race. I head down to warm up.

I set up my trainer, putting on my wind booties for good measure, they call them 'aero'. I say, why not? I chat with a few racers, telling one dismayed new guy to keep at it because you get better as you suffer more. There's gotta be a special place in hell for bike racers. We encourage each other to suffer more, suffer longer, suffer harder, and that can't be kosher. That's bike racing. I suppose the devil wouldn't want us, we like to suffer too much. I think about the weirdest things when I warm up. Before I realize, it's time to line up.

I haven't seen the course yet as the organizers are starting the next race the second the previous one finishes. I don't appreciate that...

I help a racer pin on his number because it somehow ripped. The second I finish, the whistle blows. Great timing...

I'm at the back right from the start, hanging on for dear life. I realize that my rear brake quick release is still open from when I swapped to my race wheels from my trainer wheel. I quickly close it down some so I have full use of both brakes.

An early break is making my life miserable. I struggle to hold on for over 10 minutes, enjoying my stay in the pain cave. I'm well above threshold, breathing hard, and contemplating giving up. "But I drove over an hour to get here, and if I give up in front of Kim, I'll never hear the end of it," I think to myself as my vision starts getting blurry. I contemplate throwing the 'rock on' sign or aiming my hand like a pistol at my head, as I cross the start finish line dangling off the back time and time again. I would have loved to, but I don't have the energy.

My vision starts to narrow, and the corners seem to start making sense. I can pedal through the entire course without slowing much. I cut the inside through a few corners, slowly starting to move up. I push hard and fill up the gaps that start to open up as racers get tired. I yell at a few guys, and do the work myself. I'm not giving up now, there's no going back. They'd brought back the break, I was safe.

The course is incredible. The start/finish line is atop a little hill with a 90 degree left turn, followed by a 90 degree right turn, and another 90 degree left turn in rapid succession. The last turn leads to a short roundabout with another 90 degree right turn. Then a short straightaway, a 90 degree left, short straight, and a 90 degree left. It's up the little hill to the start/finish, repeat ad nauseum.
I can pedal through everything, and dive into the inside before the roundabout and pedal through the entire thing. I gain 3-5 spots here every lap.

I find myself next to a rider from threshold who yelled at me on saturday. He later apologized, so I ride next to him and say hello. I go backwards again as the pace picks up to chase down another break. This time, I have real shelter.

We have about 10 laps to go. I should start moving up since the laps are short. Time is of the essence. 2 riders from a team right in front of me gesture to each other. One tells the other to get on his wheel so he can tow him up. Don't mind if I do. I latch on and get a tow to the front row seats. I'm now in the top 15 of about 30 guys. Good position for the next few laps.

With 5 to go, I start moving up. The rider from threshold is in the top 10 and is looking strong. I get behind him with 3 to go and fight for his wheel. "This is my wheel, there are many others like it, but this one is mine," I think to myself as I start sticking my elbows out, dissuading other racers from trying to push me out of a gap.

The pace picks up again. A rider from central wheel thins out the herd, and everything is single file. He wants to give his sprinter a better shot at the win. It's harder to get boxed in when things are strung out. I feel no pain, no exhaustion. Things are perfect. Two to go.

The rider's pull is good, and the field is stretched out. Threshold rider moves up, and I follow. We do a lap at breakneck speed, and I stick to him like glue. I know I can outsprint him, so I take his wheel into the last corner. He's been going on the inside so I sweep wide and stand up. My gearing is good.

I tuck down, rip at my bars, and push down with everything I'm worth. I see a few others start going backwards, and I keep pushing. I see the line in front of me and I throw my bike. Good for 5th. Not where I want to be, but I'll take it since I was off the back for a good bit of the race. Turns out, it was my best sprint in a race as far as power goes. It was right up there with my bests in training. Awesome.

I was still gaining on everyone at the line. I need to jump harder, strong, better, faster. And keep up the pressure till I finish the line. Then again, don't we all? Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Time for a rest week. I can't wait. I took off tuesday after doing a recovery spin down on monday. I'm not quite ready to dive into training again, but I hate finishing poorly more than I dislike training. Heh.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Nutmeg CT State Games Misadventures

Short and sweet.

4/5 race:
Dropped yet another bottle, this time it was on the side of the road. No harm, but definitely a foul.
Didn't get a draft leading up to the sprint, and I took off in the gear I was spinning @ 120 rpm seated. Stood up and spun out. Sat back down. Crap.

Might as well throw the bike.

4th of a little over 20 riders.

I think that's worth 1 point.

Turns out, I was spinning at 144 rpm before I stood up without shifting. Good god...
I have STI shifters, I should probably use them a little more often...

Saw my best 1 minute ever during the race. I was good for 552W for a minute. Heh.

4's race:
Felt like crap but legs started coming around with 3 to go.
Found myself behind a teammate on the last lap in the section with a headwind.

Found myself near the front when I was supposed to be the one doing the leadout, so I took off. Learned from my earlier mistake and shifted this time.

Gap to the left, get in there.
Gap to the right, get in.
"What the hell are you doing?"
Guy behind me to the right seems to have wanted to go there again. Tough.
Stand up, feel resistance, sprint.

Go. Go. Go.

Throw bike.

4th. 2 points atleast.

Now here's the part about why I'm an idiot.

I live in CT. Work in CT. If I could vote, I'd vote in CT.

For some reason, I forgot to swap my address over to my college address. Thus, I wasn't in contention for the state jersey anyway. Dammit.

I would have had 2nd in the 4/5 race, and 3rd in the 4's for the state rankings.

Oh well.
Live and learn.

Almost halfway to the 3's.

Oh, almost forgot. Almost missed my start to the 4/5 race. And I was the last person to line up for the 4's. I literally unclipped and put my foot down as the pack started to roll away. Whoops...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Connecticut Coast Criterium

Placed 2nd. My first podium in the 4's. I shoulda started doing the 4 only races earlier!


Started the race with legs a little hesitant, so I attacked a bit and worked to bridge and bring back a few breaks in the first half of the race. When the pistons were firing, I backed off and just sat in a bit.

Biggest rookie mistake of the day was dropping a bottle...
I was drinking with my left hand with the right hand on the tops, someone slowed and I tried to brake with my left hand with a bottle and it didn't work, so I tried putting the bottle in my mouth and braking. I dropped the bottle, got yelled at, but managed to stop before hitting someone. That's not happening again.

The first bit of the race is a blur. I didn't go for any primes since I wanted to win.

With 5 to go, I start moving up again and making sure I'm at the front. I always go up the outside on this course but today I decide that I want to move up the inside at the sprint.

Last lap, I move up the inside. A guy from kissena is in front of me. I figure he might be a trackie and have a bit of a jump, so I stick on his wheel. He stands and starts going backwards. Oh well, there goes my chance of placing.

Wait! He found a gap on his right. It's now or never because the opening on the right is tiny. It's a long way to the finish, but I jump with sprinters 10-15 meters ahead of me.

I. Want. To. Win.

I push and push till the hill becomes a little steeper. In a last ditch effort, I stand and push harder. I'm closing in on the last guy ahead of me. Just a little more.

Damn, there goes the line...

I was closing on the guy who won and I woulda had him in a couple more seconds. Coulda, shoulda, woulda.

I'm ecstatic that I managed to see the opportunity the second it presented itself.

My final move was 33 seconds at 680 watts with a max of 1002 when I stood up to sprint. Given that I had absolutely no leadout for the sprint, I'm pleased.

Won 80 bucks. And I used my race winnings to do the 3/4 race.

Also, 20 min NP was 299W. Wowza...

You can see me on the left most line. I'm the 2nd guy back. That's where the sprint started for the guys at the front. I started sprinting about 2-3 seconds after that and still managed to close that gap for 2nd. Not a bad day at all!

I'm not sure if the pictures were out of order, but I think this is my sprint. I just went and kept going!
Actually, just realized it's not the sprint. I still have my bottle attached
I think I was chasing down a break here. It's early in the race since I have most of the water in my bottle.

3/4 Race:

Nothing to report really. Felt good during the entire race and wanted to have another go to try and get a top 10. Told my teammate I was behind him with 3 to go. He started chasing after a break, and caught it. But he burnt his last match in the process.

Coming up in the final lap, he isn't really advancing fast enough but for some reason I stick on his wheel and don't jump or grab another wheel. I came around him up the hill but it was way too late. He still pulled me to the front of the race so he did his job. I just failed at mine.

Position, position, position. Needs work. That's what the weekly training crits are for. I'm going to try winning them every week from now on.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Graduating Seniors, Hartford, Car troubles, and Tuesday Nighter

I've been up at school this past week in order to work graduation in order to see the seniors and hang out. Hopefully get to enjoy some nice weather and ride a bit too.

I did all of that, possibly too much of all of that.

After watching the seniors graduate on sunday, I was off to hartford to race the downtown crit. It royally sucked. Maybe my saddle was a hair too low, I'm not sure what it was but I couldn't keep up. Then again, it could have been the unrelenting rain that led to total sketchiness from everyone and everything.

I couldn't close gaps since I didn't feel safe enough to be on anyone's wheel. I got pulled from the course.

Monday, I was heading home from dropping/picking up friends from the airport and my car's hood started smoking. I managed to drive it to town without the engine overheating and then let it cool down (managed to get a quick lunch with a friend during this time) and then drove it back to my place. It was smoking a bunch and the engine was overheating so I had to stop it and push it into a driveway. Crazy.

Today in the afternoon, I managed to get a tow truck to come and pick up the car. I have to call the garage today to make sure that everything's good and figure out how much it's going to cost. Ugh...

In any event, I got a ride to the tuesday nighter today and the loathing was rife in me after the dismal hartford crit.

I had a blast at the tuesday nighter and chased down a ton of breaks since we had a someone in a break.

All in all, a good day. Tomorrow will probably suck when I figure out how much the car repair is going to cost. Ugh...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Coach? Check! Training again? Check! Getting ready to race? Super Check!

Can you tell that I'm a little excited to get back in the groove after a week of finals that ruined my training schedule. That being said, all that studying was great for my grades, and I'm much more pleased that I was with them than I was last semester.

I did, however, get a coach for the summer and beyond. I'm working with Coach Aidan Charles of CCNS(, and I'm psyched about it. I did a lactic threshold test with him and we've begun to create a training plan. That leads me to the racing topic.

I talked to Aidan, and he wanted me to race at Hartford this weekend since I haven't raced in a bit. So I'm getting my behind in gear again. I noticed that my body did much better when I trained longer and had more miles in my legs. After a 3 week block of more miles than usual, my recovery was better and I felt better riding longer. This week is going to be about 130-140 training miles and about an hour of racing. I'm excited to carry on with this.

I'm going to start racing the tuesday nighters at hartford from this week onwards. The team that I'm racing with from now, CVC (, runs the race so I should show face and help out with it.

I'm looking forward to this summer. I'm hoping for about 10-15 training hours a week, the training crit, and a race every couple of weeks. Racing with a good team, training a ton, working at the community health center in middletown, and just having a ball with everyone who's here for the summer.

I'm excited.

But for now, I must spend time with the beloved seniors who are leaving us on sunday. They will be missed.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Shoulda Known this was going to happen

It's finals week, and for some reason I thought I could keep up the mileage I've been doing lately.


I wanted to get up and ride at 8 today, I woke up and promptly passed out again.

Wanted to do the same tomorrow, but I know better now.

I guess I'll just call this a rest week and try to get in a long ride on sunday to make myself feel better.

I'm coming off a good hard two weeks, so this is pretty sad, but I've been mentally and physically exhausted from all the work and I don't want to be a liability out on the road.

It's going to be a long summer, so this should be a nice break :)

(I wish I was riding...)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Early Morning Post?

It's 5:45 and I've been trying to fall asleep for an hour and a half, but no such luck.

I guess I'm pulling my last all nighter as a Junior. Right before my organic chem final. Whoops?

Of course I made use of my time up! Unfortunately, I learned a few things:

First a bit of a previous lesson. My SLR saddle, god bless it's light weight, is too narrow for me. I've never had that issue before, and I was always comfortable on it, but I had a spree of saddle sores after rides. So I swapped to an older, heavier, saddle: The titanio 200. No longer made, unfortunately, as it's also a favorite of a good friend CDR/SDC

Using my current saddle on my thomson seatpost, I've realized that I can't get enough setback to be at the position that was recommended to me. This means that my two 'nice' pieces of equipment on my bike are no longer on it. Pity...

Recently, my fit was adjusted and my cleats were moved forward, my saddle back, and my stem shortened. This is a little unfortunate since I was *JUST* started to dig my old position with the longer stem and saddle slightly higher and more forward (Crit style, as some would say). However, after riding on the new position for a bit, I found that my sustainable wattage for intervals went up pretty drastically. Some of it is fitness, but some of it has to do with the fit.

As long as I don't have to drop below my current 90mm stem, I think I'll survive. Otherwise I'll be aching to get back to the way things were earlier when I was comfortable in the drops for an entire race at a time.

I suppose I could run my 120mm stem flipped up as I've been doing, but I'm hoping that the 90mm stem provides the same reach and comfort. If not, I'll have to give up style for comfort. What a bother!

Time to try getting an hour or two of sleep. I suppose toying with the bike under sleep deprived conditions was a good use of time.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Riding, Injuries, and Riding Again!

I suppose that one would think that I would write in here more if I was injured.

My time off, however, led to my immersing myself in college life instead. Taking two weeks off the bike was difficult, but necessary.

I had/have post tibial tendinitis which made it unbearable for me to walk for a few days. I took off four days and then rode again, which wasn't enough of a rest for it. So of course, it flared back up and there was no more walking for me for a few days.

I took off two weeks, and then got back to riding nice and easy. All systems go, for now. The ankle still feels a little funny, but it isn't hurting. I'll take that for now.

I rode hard, real hard, on monday at the pedal power group ride. It was one of my favorite rides in the area, the Portland Hills ride. I really enjoy how challenging it is and it whooped my ass. I fought back this time though, and stayed with the lead group out on the ride. My legs had felt crummy all day, but they worked somehow.

Tuesday was another story. I went out with Rory and all I could do was stay on his wheel. Towards the end of the ride I could barely force myself to latch on after red lights. It sucked.

It's wednesday now and I'm still exhausted. Hopefully I can get out for a medium length easy ride tomorrow. I'm hoping to get out and ride a little on friday (maybe skip class for this) and then on saturday and possibly sunday.

I have a huge exam on monday and a big presentation on tuesday so I'm trying my best to ride a little but stay on top of the work that piles up at the end of the year.

That's all for now.

In other news: I think I'm joining a team for the summer. Sweet!