Jun 28, 2008

another weekend of races

Lou Maltese Memorial: My first central park race. 70 of us did 36 miles in the park early Saturday morning. I didn't know anybody else in the race, so I had to figure out how to do it on my own. That meant trying to get a gap early in the race. After a few attacks, I found myself away on the back side of Harlem Hill with two other guys. We were working well together for a lap when a group of 6 bridged. Great! An even bigger group to work with, I thought, even though the field was chasing us hard. The problem was, no one wanted to pull through, so we were caught in just a few minutes. I don't get it, if you didn't want to work, why go off the front? It was like they were blocking their own breakaway.

Anyway, the race came down to the sprint. I was feeling good, but the field was huge and I didn't have anyone to work with. People were blowing up left and right on the front and drifting through the pack, so choosing a good wheel was hard. In the end I chose the wrong side and the winning move came from two Metro guys on the right side while I was sitting on the left. I finished 8th, which I was pretty happy about. If I had a teammate to work with, I think I could have used a similar leadout for a good chance at the win.

Who's that guy with his head down?

Its me!

Chris and I after the race.

The next day we loaded up to go to Tboughts's mountain bike race out in New Jersey. It was her first race since she upgraded to sport and also the biggest race on the H2H calendar. Tboughts was trying to keep her podium streak alive from the beginner category, but the longer distance was a bit much for her and she finished mid pack. Mountain biking is tough! As a consolation prize, I lost the keys to the car and made her wait around in the heat as I retraced my steps to find them.

Later that day, I got 2nd place in the Northeast Crit Championship 4/5 race. It was a small field due to some storms, but the guys who bothered to show up were pretty cool to race against. Other than that, Mom always said if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. So I won't.

Jun 23, 2008

Giro di Jersey: Stage 3

4:30 AM came far too early for the 7 AM start. After dragging my ass out of bed and drinking more coffee than I've had in a long time, we trucked down to Princeton with plenty of time before the start. The race was a 2.5 mile circuit with two hills to grind riders out over 8 laps. I felt good at the start. Everyone was jockeying for position and the road was narrow, but I held a good spot toward the front and looked for any opportunities. A racer went off the front on the first lap and would stay away for most of the race. The big teams kept the pace high in order to keep Jacky Durand in sight, but nobody tried to bridge so it wasn't a big deal. The pace got higher and higher until the third to last lap when we sprinted around the entire course as racers were spat out the back. It was all I could do to hold on and even when they caught the break and the pace let up, I was spent. I stayed with the group the rest of the race, but when the sprint started I didn't have anything and went backwards for 37th place.

It was a really great weekend. I can't say enough about how well run the race was. Everything was timely and in order when often race directors are scrambling at the last minute to get things in order. The courses were excellent and I can't wait to race again next year. Apparently the race raised over $10,000 for charities, too. Hopefully the neighborhood enjoyed the race as much as we did and there will be a 2009 Giro di Jersey.

Jun 21, 2008

Giro di Jersey: Stage 2

I started the day by learning I got 3rd from last in the time trial (10th if you count the DNF's). Oh well, onward and upward....

The race course was five times around an 11 mile loop that followed a creek to a nice long hill with a false flat part way up and a nice kick right at the end. Next came a long, fast downhill to the start/finish. The first time up the hill I was really excited about the race. I thought the race would blow apart on the hill and hopefully I could get in a small group that would better my chances at the finish. The really cool feature of this race was no yellow line rule. I've never done a road race this long where we could use the entire road and it was pretty PRO to have them shut down the neighborhood for us.

They started us with a 5 mile neutral leadout to a narrow bridge. I understand the concern about sending 75+ racers barreling into a 10 foot wide bridge, but the rollout didn't help much and it shorted an already short race. Alright, enough whining. I spent most of the race at the back of the lead group, watching to see if any of the breakaways would stick. Everything would be brought back and I knew the only place to get away would be the hill. The first time up, I stayed toward the front and watched the action. The field strung out and I could see that there was an opportunity to attack over the top and hopefully get a big enough gap to stay away. The second time up I really drilled it on the last steep section and kept the steam on over the top, hoping someone would follow. Well, everyone followed but nobody helped. Everything came back together on the downhill and I didn't accomplish much.

So it would be the rest of the race. I drilled it a couple more times on the hill, but nothing happened. Others did the same and got the same result. On the final lap it was obvious to everyone there would be 50 guys coming into the same finish. Everyone tentatively approached the last climb. A few guys shot ahead, but we all entered the downhill together. I was feeling good, but didn't want to jockey for position at 50 mph, so I didn't have good position coming into the sprint. I ended up in the top thirty, I think.

I really enjoyed the race. It was a fantastic course and really well run. I've never done a race this big before and to feel strong and put in some good moves was great. Sometimes a race doesn't play out the way you need it too and that's fine. My only regret is not enlisting the GC leader to help set up a breakaway that would help us both. Maybe in the future I'll have the confidence to be at the front when I need to. Tomorrow is the final circuit race, so I've got one more chance to drill it and make something happen.

Afterward Tboughts and I went down to Princeton and saw the university. Its a beautiful campus, quite a bit different from SDSMT and Stony Brook.

Jun 20, 2008

Giro di Jersey: Stage 1


I don't like TT's anyway. I'm not especially good at them, since I don't have the practice or equipment for it. Usually I go out way to hard and then pop about 3 miles in. Today I managed to get lost on the way there and show up an hour late. After warming up for about thirty seconds, I rolled through the start almost 2 minutes after my start time. Since I had no warm up, I popped even earlier and it was over from there. I'm pretty sure I had one of the worst times for the day. The good news is my legs felt pretty good despite my terrible planning and now I'll have no GC position to defend and I can go all out tomorrow. Road races are usually my forte, so I'm expecting big(ger) things tomorrow.

Jun 14, 2008

Kreb race #1

I showed up for the first Kreb race nice and early, since it was my first race out at Riverhead. These go on all summer at the community college campus, so a lot of people have them pretty well figured out. After some convincing from a couple of other racers, I entered the A race (35ish miles), figuring at the very least I'd get a good workout in. The course is round and flat, so the races will be fast, for sure.

A lap in I decided to take a big pull and almost immediately found myself off the front. I was joined by a Carl Hart rider and a fellow East Ender, then a lap later by another Carl Harter. We worked pretty well together, but the pack was right behind us; they weren't going to let the first move of the day get away. Just when I was thinking about dropping off and saving my energy, they rang the bell for a prime. We came around the last turn and Rob from Carl Hart took off. I stuck on his wheel and came around him easily to cross the line first.

That pretty much blew apart the break and we all sat up and waited for the field. They came screaming by and I dug down and grabbed the tail end of the group. Sometime between getting caught and being able to breath normally again, Brian from Carl Hart counterattacked and got a really good gap. I never even saw him go, just that when I looked up he wasn't in the group and I knew he wasn't off the back. Apparently an East Ender went with him (who I didn't see either). The rest of the group put on chase, but from then on Carl Hart made the race a clinic on blocking. It seemed like they were always sitting 2nd and 4th wheel and would only pull through at an easy pace. It totally disrupted the chase and the break stayed out of sight for the rest of the race. I did some work, but I wasn't particularly effective and it was quickly becoming apparent we were racing for third.

Since they had divided the EETC riders into 3 teams, the race came to a four way sprint. The No Arm Band team started leading out with aboug 1 km to go and I grabbed the wheel of their last rider. At 300m I kicked and moved into first. With 50m to go I started fading and felt riders coming up on either side of me. At 5 to go I threw my bike and held them off for the field sprint. Brian won the whole race and Bob from Carl Hart got 4th, so I was part of a Carl Hart sandwich. The sprint worked out really well for me. If I'd needed to go any earlier, I wouldn't have held onto it. It was nice to have a good race after some pretty mediocre races so far this year.


Today I figured out what pedal washers are for. Whenever I get pedal washers, I usually don't install them in some tiny attempt to reduce q-factor. Well my cranks have been creaking like angry dogs lately and I couldn't figure out why. I finally tried installing the pedal washers and it immediately quieted them up. Now I understand.

Jun 13, 2008

Thats not the right direction-- Lewis Morris Challenge

I wanted to post this a while ago, but results were just released today.

June 1: Tboughts, MelB and I headed down to Morristown, NJ for the third stop on the H2H race calendar. Tboughts did the beginner race and I lined up for the sport race, which was 17 miles long. I haven't been training for mountain biking and really only have a half dozen hours on the mountain bike this year, but since I've been having trouble holding an all out, anaerobic effort, I thought there was no better way to get a workout than a long hard mountain bike race.

On the starting line, I was to the right of a guy wearing a Colvita-Sutter kit. Whenever you see someone like that at a race, you need to assume its just a fanboy who ponied up for a replica jersey and shorts, since the pro's rarely make an appearance at anything lacking an 'NRC' designation. Little did I know...

My age group was the second wave, singlespeeders started a minute ahead of us. '3...2...1...GO!' We were off. Someone burst through for the hole shot, but I was 4th wheel into the trail. The course was awesome. A good grinding climb to separate everyone at the beginning with some tricky roots and rocks to keep you honest and fast, rolling trail through the rest of the course. Almost no double track or open trail through the whole thing.

Going up the first climb, Colvita dude pulled into the front and I passed my way up to his wheel. He was killing it up the climb, but I was able to hang tough and I figured he'd have to let up sometime. I made it with him over the top and coasted down the first hill pretty easily. On the second climb we caught some singlespeeders and he had to let up a bit, but once we got to the top he was able to pass and poured it on. I got caught up passing and he had a gap. I tried to catch him on the next decent, but without his wheel as a carrot, I couldn't keep a high enough pace. Nevertheless I was feeling alright and kept chasing. I'd spin up the climbs and rocket down the descents. I was flying down the hills and no one could descend with me.

Coming out of the first lap some spectators told me there was only 20 seconds to Colvita boy and with 3rd place right on my wheel, I thought we might be able to catch him if he bonked or had a mechanical. Going into the first climb of the second lap, 3rd place passed me and I figured I'd let him take over pacing up the climb. Then something popped in me and I watched him pedal away. I couldn't chase anymore and I had to go my own speed and hope I could hold off the rest of the racers. 4th place caught me pretty quickly, but I was able to go back and forth with him the rest of the lap and thought I could get a top five and maybe catch a second wind for a top three.

Climbing up the beginning of the third and final lap, I started to really bonk hard and kept downshifting and downshifting until I realized my granny wasn't slow enough. Finally I got off my bike, took a big drink of water and watched a train of riders go by me. That was how it was for the rest of the lap, pedaling softly and getting off to let riders by or walk up hills. I couldn't ever go fast down the descents, my arms felt too weak to support me. In the end I dropped to 18th in my age group and who knows how far back overall.

I've never bonked that hard in that short a time before. Sure I've run out of gas before, but never so fast and so badly. The funny thing is everything seemed to be going fine. My blood sugars checked alright and didn't feel dehydrated or in need of food. I guess it just happens sometimes and I'll hope it makes me a little faster later on. All in all it was a good workout and I was really happy to be the last person to get dropped by Colvita boy. I'll try to get plenty of rest and maybe this won't happen in the future. I never figured out who Colvita boy was. You can't race expert if you don't buy a yearly license (sport and beginner can be raced on one day liscenses), so I guess he must have figured a day of racing wasn't worth $60. I think an expert license should come with a Cat 1, the same way a Cross cat 3 comes with a Pro or Cat 1 license.

*EDIT* I guess he was Ryan Bodge, all around fast guy on the Colvita Sutter U23 developement team.

Tboughts did really well in her first mountain bike race ever. She was the second place woman in her class and had the first place racer in her sights until her chain fell off and she lost a minute putting it back on. Maybe with a better front derailleur and a few more workouts, she can win her next one.

Jun 11, 2008


The pro's are in town and the Brothers know who wants what....

Doug Swanson gets at top ten at the time trial (pretty sure thing since he's done well the last couple years).

Eric Marcotte sprints for a top ten in a crit (sprinting with the pros is hard).

Mike Woell has the top overall place for a local amateur (a bit of a stretch, maybe, but he sure is tenacious).

Jun 4, 2008

quick thoughts

SDSMT got 4th and 6th in Baja SAE this year. Stony Brook got 8th. There were 116 other teams that entered.

I got a haircut at one of those old school barbershops yesterday. It was filled with crusty guys 2 or 3 times my age who talked about horse racing and how things used to be better half a century ago. Actually, most of the things they said would be inappropriate to write about. I love that places like that still exist.

There aren't any American sprinters. The only one in Europe I can think of is Fred Rodrigez. I think we need a cultural shift to encourage more cyclists to specialize in sprinting; schools should try to mimic the Italians and focus on fashion, soccer and a general lack of work ethic.

The sidewalk outside my apartment is being redone. It wasn't in bad shape, but I'm always happy when people don't let the area I live in get run down. What I don't like is when they work. The last two days they've shown up at 6:30 and worked until 10. What they do the rest of the day? I don't know. Why don't construction workers operate on a normal schedule?