Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Like it was your last

 'World Turns' by Secondhand Serenade

Pulling into the public garage deck on Monday morning for the Tour of Somerville parking spot number 51 was vacant and I couldn't help but think serendipity was calling my name.  The background on this was that I was registered for the Masters/Legacy race a week in advance but had been seriously reluctant about doing it from the moment I pressed the send button on BikeReg.com. There are various reasons for this but mostly it's just that I'm at a stage in my life where I, at the very least, should begin to consider myself either a Masters racer or a Cat 1 amateur.  I'm in between these two things but I still want to enjoy racing and have it be as fulfilling as possible.

I reckon its all just part of the aging paradigm but there's still a melancholy tapestry draped around the process.  Regardless of this, it's also a real and undeniable chapter in the book of life we must all face.  Managed with grace it can be an awesome and full chapter and wishfully we should all get the chance to read it but many don't get that chance.

Unloading the car I couldn't ignore '51' painted on the concrete at my feet because this number has meaning for me and it caused me to pause and reconsider what I truly wanted out of the day.  Thought treeing this further, a seam colored in life's uncertainty and fragility surfaced within me.  We can't know for sure where or what we will be in the future and I branched this thread out to the realization that this could be my last chance to race Somerville (The Kentucky Derby of bike racing) or any race for that matter.  And in that moment I chose to enter the Pro1 instead of the Masters.

Not everyone has a choice and Scott Rose was one of those guys.  He was the coordinator of the local TT series in Concord, MA I have been doing for years.  I didn't know Scott well.  To me he was just a friendly guy that seemed to really dig bike racing and being involved but I was still shocked and saddened to hear yesterday that he died on Monday in the early evening from a rare immune system disorder he contracted in January.  He wasn't quite 50 years old, my same age, and passed away close to the same time that my race in Somerville was ending...

 .....but I knew none of this as I approached the registration table having already decided to change races.  It's surreal now to know that Scott passed away while I was blessed with an opportunity to decide whether or not to drink from life's cup and live the day as if it was my last.  I'm grateful and happy with my choice but also emotional in life's unpredictability and the unfairness it can sometimes dispense.  In several ways I had one of the best race experiences since my car accident in 08 but save one seemingly vaporous even innocuous decision, I would have missed it entirely.  Lesson learned, hopefully.

Before the race I got the chance to visit with Mike Keogh.  I was warming up and Mike gave me shout over so we chatted for about 10 minutes.  It's always cool to catch up with him and the progressing journey of Keogh racing.  You can read more about the Keogh Pack here.  Mike is a good friend and we actually talked more about life poetic and such rather than racing per say....as it should be.  And, as it turned out, but not surprisingly, his son Luke ended up winning the thing; and in dramatic fashion I might add, with the surgically applied force and support of his MBK teammates Adam Myerson, Neil Bezdek, Shane Kline and Clay Murfet.

I have raced with Luke and all the Keogh boys (Incl. Jake, Nick, Jesse) since they were entry level Juniors.  Here's a picture of me and Luke after the race.  Luke is younger than my own son Stephen, which is a real time warp for me....and my second son is also named Luke so I feel more than just a racing connection with their family.  Because of this it's more of a thrill to see these kids accomplish such feats in this sport and to share in their pride as well.  I think I was happier for Luke than he was for himself.  Super cool.  That trophy sits in the Cycling Hall of Fame and is inscribed with huge names of past winners from 1940-2012 that echo in the chambers of American cycling folk lore.  Congratulations Luke and the Mtn Bike Khaki Team.


Peace and roll strong!

Friday, May 25, 2012

'The Drives' training ride

On Tuesday night I rolled up to the Falls Bridge on Kelly Drive in Philly at 6:25pm.  The locals here can tell you this is the launching spot for 'The Drives' ride.  'The Drives' is a blazing fast pace line training session with an average speed reputed to be in excess of 29mph so I was anxious to check it for myself.  It is laid out on an 8 mile loop connecting a 4 mile drag down Kelly Drive to a 4 mile drag up Martin Luther King Drive.

'The Drives' is also led my old friend and, back in late 90's, sometimes competitor Brian Walton.  Brian is Canadian and an Olympic Silver Medalist but has been in Philadelphia for well over 10 years working with his accomplished wife Dana raising a family and directing Cadence Cycling & Multisport in Manyunk.

Boat House Row on Kelly Drive
Today Brian coaches some of the worlds best professional racers as well as aspiring masters, amateurs and juniors.  He and Dana recently launched Walton Endurance which gives them even greater access and focus on mentoring and coaching riders in a very effective and results oriented manner.  'High and tight' is, I believe, how Brian described his coaching approach.

As chance would have it I saw Brian on the bike path that Tuesday morning while I was out on an easy spin.  He was with one of his clients doing a one on one ride and he was pretty focused but (referring to 'The Drives' ride) took a moment to ask me if I was going to do the throw down ride at 6:30 that night?  I said sure and he said we'd catch up there.   That sounded cool to me at first, like oh sweet I'll have a nice group ride to do later in the day but then I paused...... and thought 'Did he just say throw down?'  

You know what, the term throw down is used pretty liberally in cycling.  There are guys that say it and you simply have to smile and take it with a grain of salt.  Then there are guys like me that say it and maybe it means something?  But then there are those guys that say it and you know, every part knows, it's meaningful.  Brian is one of those meaningful guys.

I was thinking about this as I approached Falls Bridge at nearly 6:30 pm and saw 35 or more guys staged there loaded for bear and with angry legs on display.  Brian rolled up a minute later, didn't stop, just gave a glance and the pack quickly dashed up to him and formed a neat rotating pace line that rolled up to 30 mph within a minute or two and it stayed that way for the next 32 miles.  Needless to say it was the best workout of its kind I have ever had.  There were surges at times and hot spots on the loop but generally speaking it was smooth and uber fast.  I took pulls when I could which was pretty consistently but I was really impressed and appreciative of the skill and cooperation of the group overall.  In the end I think there were maybe 15 guys left.

Afterwards I pedaled off alone along the Schuylkill River by Boathouse row with the Sunset on my back.  I was dripping sweat in a killer adrenalin haze and fatigued just enough to know that after that level of training I was a leaner and faster bike racer than I was just an hour prior.  Wish I could bottle that feeling.  I'd call it Life Elixir or Awesome-Sause.          Peace and Roll Strong!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Deliberately

Watching Dead Poets Society last night I was only half paying attention.  I was a little overtired from racing two categories at 'Bike Jam' in Baltimore so I my mind was filled with fluttering imagery around the smooth day of racing, reconnecting and laughs with my old mid-Atlantic mates and watching the movie itself.  I like the movie though, quite a bit actually.  From start to finish it's laced in Thoreau and transcendentalist ideal to be a self-reliant free thinking individual and to stand up for what you believe is right, and not what others tell you is just.  This takes daring and courage.

 

Yesterday was the first day of racing in a handful of other races I hope to do down here in the coming few weekends including the Bicycling Magazine OPEN in Philly on June 3rd.  My good friend Peter Sullivan from ATA Cycle Fit lab and I are going to ride this one together.  Here's the skinny.   'For the first time in 28 years, weekend warriors and casual cyclists will have the chance to ride up to three timed laps of the iconic Philadelphia Championship Road Course. Experience the thrill of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the challenging Manayunk Wall on the completely closed 14.5 mile circuit.'  This ought to be a blast. It starts 3 hours before the Pro's hit the course so for a semi-serious racers and a fans like us, it's the best of both worlds.

I actually rode Manayunk Wall today for the first time ever and pressed it pretty hard too.  It was my recovery day n all but what the hell I wanted to check it out just for grins.  I also rode Lemon Hill and came away thinking I can easily lumber 3 f-ugly laps on this course, no problem.

I like the mid-Atlantic.  NY, Philly, DC and Baltimore are all close and packed with good racing.  You can hop from one great city to the next in just a couple hours and that's why I deliberately carved out time and made arrangements for mobile work in order to be here for a while.

This picture was taken yesterday morning before we headed to Baltimore. I was feeling good about skipping the Wilmington Delaware Grand Prix the day before.  I went to it with every intention of racing but once I saw the course and knew it didn't suit my riding style I opted out.  I figured I'd appreciate watching it more than racing it and I was right.  The Pro-1 field lined up over 120 guys, all chomping at the bit.  It started off pretty tame though, almost like a parade.  And for the first 15-20 laps I was thinking 'I should've been in there' but shortly after this things got real fast and nasty in a hurry.  Strong guys started spilling blood and dropping off the pace like flies.  They went shooting off the back five, six, seven at a time with bolts flying out of their ears.  In the end just 40 guys finished and all of them looked utterly shelled.  I only race for fun these days and that looked anything but fun.

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."     DH Thoreau               Peace and roll strong.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Beauty running wild upon your face

A beauty in childhood is the belief that we can be whatever we want to be.  It seems the younger a child is the bigger their visions for themselves are.  Ask a four year old what they want to be and they'll tell you they want to be the President, an Astronaut or the Tour De France Champion...or something else commensurately grand.

Time passes though and with it, so too, go the dreams of most people.  They simply drift away as the child reluctantly lets go of them bit by bit.  The absorption of life experience accumulates and realigns their goals to more practical and achievable expectations. It happens to everyone and it's slightly sad because 'almost' everyone out there would rather be doing something other than what they actually do; not that they're unhappy, but it's a rare person that is doing exactly what they always wanted to do.

I think the most under recognized draw for riding a bike is the freedom it provides for people to get back in touch with those dreams, to revisit their childhood in a healthy and rejuvenating manner and share this experience with friends at the same time.

The photo above was taken 113 years ago.  It's not likely this fellow is alive today but if he were I suspect his passion would still connect with the joy of riding a bike. The beauty is running wild on his face. 

Google 'beauty on your face' pulls this.  Nice tune.


Peace and roll strong.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Relax your mind

James Clavell wrote an Asian time-lined historical fiction series starting with his epic SHOGUN circa 1600 and continued with TAI-PAN 1841, GAI-JIN 1862 and NOBLE HOUSE 1963. I know this only because I'm staring at them on my fireplace mantel right now.  They're front of mind for me right now because I need a little mental expansion and transporting.


Racing bikes is tiring but also takes discipline to recover properly.  I suspect many guys lucky enough to have the time and flexibility to recover properly do it in the same mindless way I too often do.  But the thought of sofa surfing and watching cable is getting too mind constricting for me. I don't look forward to it at all. The programming is like a mellow level of purgatory making me mentally dull and bored to tears.  I keep my laptop handy to read on-line journals and I write a little at the same time too but there's only so much of this I can do.  After a while the combination leaves me cross eyed with sore finger tips and for some reason it also leaves me with a flutter of anxiety.  I'm not exactly sure why?  Perhaps it's shuffling between the TV and laptop screens that gets me; their manufactured colors, neon light, the constant stream of visceral visuals?  Whatever the case, it's not relaxing at all.


A couple of years ago my mom bought me Clavell's series mentioned above.  She knew I loved reading SHOGUN about ten years ago and thought I'd appreciate having the follow up novels.  Last night I figured enough was enough; killed the idiot box and pulled NOBLE HOUSE off the shelf, laid down in bed and began reading.  NOBLE HOUSE is about 1,400 page's and I only made it through like 15 last night but it was a good start....And before I drifted off into 7 hours of relaxed sleep, I was 'transported' to a midnight rain storm in Hong Kong as Alaster Straun reluctantly handed over tai-pan leadership of Noble House Shipping Company to Ian Dunross.    -Refreshing!

Peace and roll strong.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

DQ'd & I don't mean Dairy Queen

As I mentioned yesterday, I rode out to the Sterling Classic Road Race yesterday.  It took me an hour to get there which is a little longer than expected and I should have planned better but either way I was running late and had to do a semi TT the last half hour to make it to registration in time.

When I got there the race was just about to line up and registration was closed.  My friend Avi and his girl friend were doing registration and pulled a couple strings to get me in.  I got to the start at the back of the 100 racer Masters field with a minute or two to spare before they rolled off.

I was completely warmed up and felt really good about the 48 miles ahead. The race stayed together for the first 18 miles until a group of four or five separated off the front.  They were only about 15 seconds up but I could see they were gaining time and more importantly had all of the potent teams represented in it.

This was on the highway section of the course; two lane same direct-no oncoming traffic.  I figured this was as good a spot as any to bridge across.  I was 12 guys from the point, saw a seam open on the left and I jumped through it.   I veered further to the left to avoid bringing anyone else with me and got clear of the pack.  After a few more strokes I backed off full gas and settled into 90% effort because I could see I was gaining on the breakaway pretty quickly.  I reached them comfortably in about 40 seconds but just as I was a few feet from connecting the official pulled up to me on his motorcycle, honked his horn and yelled "you're out of the race".  I was genuinely shocked and actually thought he was talking to someone else.  I asked him, "me?"  "Yes, your done" he said.  I asked him why.  He said I ignored the pre-race instructions that riders violating the yellow center line "and" passing left of highway's dividing lane line would be dq'd.  I'm aware of the yellow line rule because every road race open to oncoming traffic has it.  So even though I wasn't at the starting line in time to hear these instructions I instinctively knew not to cross the yellow line.  However I wasn't aware of yesterday's highway rule.

Anyway, I asked him if he would relegate me to the back of the field rather than a dq because I saw him give that to a guy crossing the yellow line earlier in the race. He stuck to his decision though and while I was a little confused over the double standard I respected his decision as rules are rules and because I figured I could still register for the Pro1-2 which started 2 hours later.  In retrospect I became more disappointed because the group I caught stayed away and won the race a few minutes up on the field.  So...'not for nothing',  I made to right decision going across and would have been in a strong position for a high result.

The Pro1-2 race looked to be very tough.  I spoke with Jesse Anthony as he was registering, saw Tim Johnson's name on the starting list along with all New England's best roadies including eventual race winner Tim Mitchell....so it was going to be a very rugged 80 miles.  I almost bagged doing it as I had already ridden pretty hard to get to the race, put in a hard 18 miles in the masters and still had to ride home but I figured I needed to volume and signed up.   My rebuilt hip also tightened up just hanging around. I stretched it and stuff but it felt like junk right from the start.  The pace was fast right off the bat.   We were going 30mph in the 2 mile neutral section before the race started and I had doubts right there.  The race started and within a couple miles I knew I wasn't going to be able to sustain the pace but hung in there as best I could for another 10 miles before calling it quits.

The 'interesting' thing was that when the Pro1-2 field got the the same section of highway where I was dq'd earlier; half of them were crossing that same dividing line and not a single rider was pulled ?  Yes, they were way over it and in doing so many were also 'advancing their position.'   Go figure?

I was pleased with the day though.  I rode well over 100 miles yesterday and I really need the volume right now and I also got to watch most of the Pro1-2 from the feed zone and soak up some serious sun/rays.   If you can't tone it, tan it!         Peace and roll strong.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sterling Pre-Race

The Sterling Classic Road Race is just 10 miles from my home and is going off at 10:25am this morning.  I'm going to ride over and do it.  The last time I did it was 2 years ago in a torrential rain storm.  It wasn't a great experience.  Ata Cycle had just given me a new MC-2 (Museeuw) to race and I crashed it on the second of ten laps by slipping out on the courses highway section where the painted line is raised just enough to make it a treacherous hazard when wet.  Fortunately I wasn't injured.  The pack was moving at around 30 mph when I hit the deck and I just hydroplaned across the rain covered road and neatly collided into an innocuous mulch bed just happening to be there, not unlike a high-jumpers landing pit.  I was amazed at how relatively gentle it felt but I wouldn't want to do it again.

There was pain though. After collecting myself, checking the bike and assessing my odds of catching the pack I began the chase and it sucked.  Filled with adrenalin I hammered to get the pack within touching distance just before the course's meaningful climb and this was a mistake.  I hit the base deep into a red-lined state and just couldn't hold pace going up so the pack floated out of sight again.  Once I got over the top I mashed for a couple awfully painful miles and saw that I was getting the distance back.  Throwing caution to the wind I put in an all out effort descending like a banchi on the courses downhill section to make the connection before the highway section.

I wanted to be sure to catch them before the highway because it's where the group rolls really strong and fast.  If I didn't connect before this section I'd never catch them.  Anyway, the long and short is that it took a bleeding from my ears effort to make it but I used up all my stores in doing so. 

From that point on in the race it was all I could do to just ride in the pack and finish midfield and I suffered in a bad way the whole time.  Suffering can be awesome, even fun when you're racing within yourself but it can also scar you if you're not.  I skipped the race last year for latter reason.  I went and had fun watching it instead. 

The weather today looks like it is going to be a banner day!  Bad racing sh#t can still defiantly happen in awesome weather but somehow the sun shine and cool air make things feel a lot less discouraging going in. 

Peace and RS.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

5 lbs of fat

I went to watch the Blue Cross Broadstreet 10 mile Run last Sunday.  There were 41,000 runners. I went to the registration the day before to check out the venue and help DSL at packet pickup.  As you might expect registration was crowded and chaotic like a 'Where's Waldo' poster with vendor booths packed in there and anxious athletes migrating around them without pattern reminding me of a Persian bizarre in Istanbul.

One of the booths was the American Association for Heart & Lung Disease.  They had a table displaying the two major contributors of heart disease, being overweight and smoking.  


The first thing on the table that caught my eye was this yellow glob of gelatinous mass on the table.  I guess it's an exact replica of what 5 lb of fat feels like in/on your body.  Two things struck me as I picked it up. First, it felt like it weighed a lot more than 5 lbs. I would have guessed it was more like 10 lbs.  I think this was because it didn't have a center point so it flopped around and was awkward to hold.  My second reaction was how stressful this extra portage would have on my body, not just because it was unstable and would overstress my joints but also because overtime it would overwork my heart x 100,000,000 extra beats?  I walked away pinching my belt line thinking I want no part of over-blob on my body, ever. 

The second thing I saw was this jar of tar showing what your lungs have to filter over a years worth of smoking. A picture is worth a thousand words.  This picture say's a lot of bad things about whats in store for your body if you're a smoker.

After the run we went to a tailgate party.  The venue was full of them spread all across the massive AT&T sport complex grounds where the race finished.  Hosting our party was Captain Joe Lynch (pictured below).  Joe is the head of security at Blue Cross building headquartered in center city Phil.

He's responsible for the safety of the 3000 people working in there. It's a huge responsibility.  He also teaches at UPenn and was the former Head of S.W.A.T. for the city.  Joe is a high functioning guy but most importantly he throws an awesome tailgate.   Peace & RS


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Carpe Diem

I couldn't wait to get up this morning.  I was unable to sleep last night with a lot on my mind.  This happens once in a while but I don't think it's always a bad thing.  The peace and silent dark help me to center and clearly align my thoughts without distraction.  The way I look at it there are meaningful decisions ahead and I need the pause to consider my direction and affirm my choices.


A prominent echo last night was something a friend told me once...'Stay in the box & only worry about what you can control.'  I chewed on this for a long time because while I am many things, no one would ever accuse me of being an 'in the box' guy.  So my friends' statement is a big pill to swallow, especially for people driven by intent, force and passion.  But after a while the essence in these words started to sink in for me.  It isn't so much about expanding your control in order to worry less (which is a tendency), it's about truly letting go of things you have absolutely no control over.  Having said that I figure there's a caveat around new situations and the principle of relativity and the passing of time.  Meaning if you've never experienced it, sometimes it takes taking a chance to know how things will play out.

Bike racing is a teacher of such things.  The end result of your race is often determined by one's skill in letting go of moves that aren't worth your effort to contain but also every once in a while the highest success happens when you take a chance.  Both of these require a great focus and determination.  I am grateful to cycling for showing me so many things. In it's imagery I was able to unfold the power in my friends words. This sport has not built my character but it continues to reveal it.

-Peace & RS

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Training Crits in RI & PA

I lost my voice last week.  I think it was a combination of back to back races, allergies and a rave/concert I went to last weekend that did me in.  Either way, not being able to speak made it impossible to work so I decided to take a road trip to Philadelphia for a long easy decompressing weekend.

Its a 6 hour drive to Philly but there's a Wednesday night training crit in Ninigrit, Rhode Island which is right on the way down there so I decided to hit it.  I've known about this series for a while but I've never done it.  This was a good opportunity to check it out and I figured it would also be a nice way to break up the trip.

The race starts at 6:30pm. I got there just in time and rolled to the starting line alongside about 40 other guys.  It was a  pretty typical training race; aggressive racing with a bunch of local guys riding with a lot of confidence because, like their own backyard, they're intimately familiar with every one of it's particular dynamics.  I missed a warm-up and basically went from the drivers seat of my car straight to the starting line.  As such I decided to roll half the race as a warm up before trying anything and mix it up a bit in the second half.  But as it turned out my legs didn't really opened up at any point.  I know most of the guys down there from racing with them all over NE so I can gauge their efforts and I know whats going on pretty well.  Right off the bat the pace was a little too stressful for me so I changed my initial plan and decided to just sit in and draft the entire race.  The race was peppered with attacks and small groups floating away every 7-10 minutes or 2-3 laps but it was all together in the end and I won the thing with one effort in the field sprint finish.  Afterwards I caught up with a few friends in the parking lot then hit route 95 South and rolled into Philly at about 1:00am which was perfect because I can't sleep after a pm race anyway.

All things considered I woke up the next day feeling pretty good.  Around 10:30 we went to a cafe called 'Good Karma' and spent the day working there on-line before going to the Great Valley Practice Crit that evening outside the city proper.  It's about a 50 minute drive to get there which wasn't great but the race format was pretty easy.  There's no registration or fee.  Everyone just meets in the same parking lot on the course and rolls out together at 6:00 pm sharp. Great Valley Crit is a 1 mile loop with one power roller. The course is open to traffic but its wide and open enough to easily manage the 100 plus riders that showed up to do it.  The race itself was pretty cool.  The course lends itself for a breakaway group provided it has the right combination and number of riders.  Not knowing a single rider meant I had to really observe the race flow and animators closely.  About half way through I had a pretty good idea of what was going on and started extending a few efforts and stretching the front of the field to see what shakes.  I didn't give a blue flame effort to any single move because giving 100% in unfamiliar situations and with guys you don't know at all can be a big mistake.  It was really fun though, just trying to read things the whole time; staying in the mix at the front and cruising off the front here and there, with this and that guy, but holding back the whole time.  In the end everything was still together.  I was forth wheel at about 250 meters from the line where the race started and then I jumped with about 180 to go.  I crossed the line several bike lengths ahead of everyone and sat up only to see that the guys kept sprinting passed me for about another 100 meters after I had stopped?  It was weird because the spectators were all standing around the spot where we started...it looked like the finish!  And every crit I've ever done finishes at the same spot that it started from.  But Great Valley is different, I guess.  Either way it didn't really bother me much. I was in the right position and had the legs left in me to contest the win if I knew where is was exactly.  Oh well, lesson learned.

It was a pretty big weekend in Philly.  It was their 'First Friday' weekend and 'Cinco de mayo' rolled up together with the 'Broad Street Run/10 miler' also taking place.  Broad Street run is pretty big, 41,000 runners this yr.  It goes from N.Philly straight through Center City on Broad Street and ends in S.Philly's colossal ATT Pro Sports Complex.

Among other things 'First Friday's' in Philly appeared to me to be a city wide festival of open houses for the city's many world class art galleries.   Pretty eclectic and cool.  We went to an opening for DSL's friend Julia Levitina.  Julia had an opening called the 'The Sails of Memory' displaying her truly amazing sculptures and drawings.  Peace & RS.
DSL & Julia Levitina


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Beach Camp!


Right now I'm sitting in a cafe called Good Karma filled with hipsters, students and dudes like me tapping out laptop occupational and surfing some s-media.  Kel posted the tune above earlier today and it got me thinking....

Every Spring I look forward to wispy mellow days at the beach but things get busy and I never make it there as much as I'd like.  Many endurance athletes can't stand the beach. They're too worried about missing a workout, especially most Triathletes.  And if they go they look at the beach as a training ground to be conquered rather then a place of rejuvenation.  You can see them vigorously swimming and running back and forth with a full game face on and wearing IM branded battle gear (meshed hat & Oakley radar-lock shades).  After 'training' they'll stay busy performing paddle ball on a tournament level and later urgently contract their kids into building the biggest sand castle within sight...basically they're hyper focused on doing anything other than be alone and calm with themselves.

Many years ago I used to admire this 'dedication' and 'high functionality' and I guess its fair to say that I was one of these people but over time, doing it myself and observing it in others, the whole thing started to genuinely irk me and now years later I have grown to actually pity people living with such restlessness.  I stopped living this way.  Just can't do it anymore.  Rest is too important to me now.  I go to the beach for inertia, to chill and let it envelop me.  I'm not there to conquer it.  I read, think and sleep in the sun. 

Peace and roll strong.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Heat Gun

Where can you go after work, share a silky red with friends away from the world and rap all things cycling?  Ata Cycles, is a start.  I've written about bike shop culture and allure in the past but I appreciate this more and more as time rolls on because cool stuff just continues to happens there.

Like most nights I popped into Ata yesterday.  Husam and I were talking and he mentions that he's using a 'heat gun' in his bike fittings now.  Husam is a progressive guy and I guess he observed his car mechanic using a 'heat gun' to index his car's engine performance, or some stuff like that, and thought he could incorporate some of the same principles into his bike fitting process.

So what is a heat gun? It's this....

...a laser gun that measures heat from anything you point it at.  Just point the laser beam at whatever you want and it'll tell you how HOT it is....like this Chianti
or Peter Sullivan....
...or her.
...or on the legs of a cyclist during a bike fit for use as an augmenting index to know how warmed up they are.  It's instant and accurate.  This thing will even tell you the interior temp of hips and knees.  Impressive stuff.

You can't learn things like this in books.  It comes from innate intelligence and a pioneering acumen.   I suspect we'll see this method copied in the future by some genius with a PhD and a book to their name but remember where you saw it first.   
Regarding heat...
 

 Here's a cool quote related to progression...borrowed from D.SL

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”  ― Muhammad Ali

Peace and roll strong.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Quabbin & Wayne Elliott race reports

It's been a day or two since this past weekend of racing and I've had a chance to absorb the effort now and reflect on how things went.  I've mentioned a few times how low my training volume has been recently and that's no jive.  Over the last 45 days my weekly training has been less than 5 hrs.  I was doing 15-25 hrs all winter and feeling great.  I'm not burned out, not even close, it's just been life stepping in and I took a detour to check it out, then I got crashed out heavy on a training ride and there you have it.

I'm building myself back up now and more than anything need to get in as much quality volume riding as possible.  As I drove the hour and a half out to Ware, MA on Saturday for the Quabbin RR I was debating which category to enter.  I rarely race the masters, mostly because the distances are shorter and fields can be smaller but at Quabbin all of the races covered the same 64 hilly miles and at registration I saw the masters had 125 guys which was the largest field.   The first person I saw in line for registration was my friend Dzmitry Buben. Dzmitry is a former Soviet Olympic Team Pursuiter and won the masters world TT two years ago.  He's as hard as they get and climbs like a bird. I saw a bunch of other quality riders lining up too like Kevin Hines, Jeff Fisher, a strong Keltic team and a bunch of other top guys from NJ, NY, CT, ME, NH and MA so I knew the masters would be a meaningful race.

Even so I still debated doing the Pro1-2 but since I really wanted to have two days of solid racing/training I thought the P1-2 could leave me a little too flat to be good on Sunday so I made the decision to do the masters. 

Although I've never raced Quabbin I have ridden the roads out there and am familiar with their vert.  Most of my friends have raced it too so I've heard enough to be comfortable knowing what to expect and what to do.  My strategy was a simple; 1) stay in the top 5-10% on the climbs 2) cruise everything else inside the pack  3) eat at halfway and again with 10 clicks/km out.  My 190 lbs burn calories like a coal locomotive especially going up hill and the climbs around Quabbin just keep coming so I have to really pay attention to calorie intake.  I think the course had something like twenty or more clmbs, each one scrubbing off a little more edge but none of the hills matter as much as the last steep on the finishing stretch.  The closing 3km is uphill all the way and tricky to gauge with the toughest steep section about 700 meters out and I was mindful not to enter this section on empty.  I thought if I could hit it all of it right Id be in good position for a result.

The race itself played like this.  Keltic controlled it!  They rolled tempo early and made it aggressive, launching attacks the entire second half of the race.  With about 6k left they had worn out all the other teams to where none had any ammo left and then launched Anthony Felitte over a windy crest and no one chased.  Anthony hammered strong & got out of sight quickly and rather easily.  I was actually feeling good but to chase solo would have been stupid so I just surfed patiently in the top 10 guys reading for moves and wheels.   I followed a couple of late surges over the last 3k and as we rolled up into the steep at about 700 meters I pressed a little bit because I was anticipating an attack and wanted to have momentum to jump on it but it never came.  I noticed that my surge had separated me a couple of bike lengths from the front to the group so I pressed a little more and saw the gap growing and also saw that Anthony in sight.  Once I saw him I gassed it 100% and rode away from the group and closed to within 10-15 seconds (guessing) of Anthony and crossed the finish line in second place.  The last 200 meters felt like 400.  I damn near fell off my bike after crossing the line having left everything on the slope, which is how should be.

Wayne Elliott
Sunday I went up to the Wayne Elliot Circuit race in Merrimac, MA and decided to race the masters again. This was a nice followup day.  It was a small field but a physical course a windy conditions which made for an ideal conditioning ride/race.  It was six laps for 40 miles and after rolling easy for a lap and a half I began launching sorties to try and separate off the front.  It took me at least 10 attempts to finally get away but even with this I never got more than 20 seconds up.  After about 10-12 miles solo, Mark Thompson bridged across.  I guess his team-mate Eric Marrow powered the group to within 12 seconds of me and Mark jumped across.  That was awesome effort by those guys.  I was happy to have Mark with me because he's very strong and smooth.  Together we carved through the raging headwind and got well clear of the group and were together in the closing clicks.  We rolled into the downhill finish together with Mark on the point tapping out at 45 mph.  I jumped to the line around him but I definitely tip my hat to his strength, speed and smooth rotation.  Not many guys know how to two up like him.

Peace and roll strong.