*A note to readers who get to the blog early in the day: Today (Tuesday) at 9:30 a.m., I will be a guest on C-SPAN's morning call-in show, Washington Journal. I'll be talking about the special election for the 20th congressional district. For those of you without cable TV, you can watch the show online by following the link above. This is my broadcast debut, and I hope you'll tune in!
Wow. I could hardly keep my eyes open while typing last night's post, and it shows. Let me apologize for a race recap that was written only for insiders, without so much as a nod to my usual readership.
So far, no photos have surfaced, and frankly, given the cold and rain, I seriously doubt that anyone was standing around with a camera. Still, I'll let you know if any photos do surface.
Anyhow, the important thing to know is that rain often has the effect of taking away much of a race's impetuous to ride fast. Once it was clear that our break of eight riders had a substantial gap, it seems that the rest of the field (what remained of it) sat up and let us roll.
Standing around shivering after the finish, it took several minutes for the decimated field to come in behind. Only about 30 riders started the race, and probably one-third of those dropped out.
On the start line, I had company with two of my old BVF team mates, Brian and Robert, who both rode well in tough conditions. Robert finished just outside the money, in 11th. Brian was in the main field. Another BVFer, Ben, was in the 4 race, and was there cheering me on just before I launched my 11th-hour attack, and when I crossed the line.
Thanks guys for all of your support! It's great to know that I've got friends when I make my occasional return to Brooklyn. Of course, that I'm still racing in my BVF/GQ kit, while waiting for my Anthem Sports Elite Development kit to come in.
The race was really wet and cold. At one point, I actually thought to myself "If I place, I'll have to stand around and wait for the prize. If I don't place I can just go home and shower."
Clearly, the desire to do well won out, but it was a funny thought that I can honestly say I've never had before. Fortunately, doling out the prize money didn't take as long as it sometimes does, and I was able to get home and into a hot shower in a reasonable amount of time.
Before my successful ride on Sunday, I also raced Johnny Cake Lane on Saturday.
Although I finished in the main field, more than two minutes behind winner Roger Asphlom, of Westwood Velo, I feel pretty good about the race.
Johnny Cake always seems to go the same way: the first few laps are really fast, then a group of the right guys goes of the front, and everything settles down. This week was no exception. The break went on the third lap (I was pretty deep in oxygen debt, so I could be off a little on this number), and the field quickly settled into quick temp ride behind.
I threw down a few attacked in the first two laps, with an eye toward testing my legs, and right after the break broke, I tried to bridge up to it, taking a Spooky/Kenda rider with me. Although we got a pretty solid gap to the field, and seemed to be closing on the break for a little while, we were riding into a stiff headwind, and my break away partner didn't seem able to contribute as much to the effort as we needed to get across the gap -- I certainly wouldn't have gotten anywhere near as far as we did, had I been alone, but after I finally urged him to go a little faster and turned and apologized, but he was gassed.
So it goes. We were soon back in the field, where it was a smooth, fast training ride.
One of the coolest things about Johnny Cake is that the prize list for the elite race is only $100, three places deep. Everyone comes to throw down, and no one is doing it for the money. The same can be said for many other races, and not just those with small purses, but to me, it still makes the race feel a little more pure.
That aside, the best thing about Johnny Cake Lane on Saturday was that it was warm and sunny. I raced in a short sleeve jersey and shorts, and finished the race with the solid beginnings of this year's tan lines.
Hopefully this Saturday's Johnny Cake Lane will be more of the same!
No post tomorrow, as I'll be working late to cover the 20th district congressional election. For those of you living in the district, don't forget to vote!
Monday, March 30, 2009
*A note to readers who get to the blog early in the day: Today (Tuesday) at 9:30 a.m., I will be a guest on C-SPAN's morning call-in show, Washington Journal. I'll be talking about the special election for the 20th congressional district. For those of you without cable TV, you can watch the show online by following the link above. This is my broadcast debut, and I hope you'll tune in!
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Unfortunately, this is going to have to be a quick post, as I'm completely exhausted after my first double-header of the year.
That being say, I don't want to beat around the bush; I got second this morning in the Spring Series race in Prospect Park, coming in a couple second behind Jermaine Burrows, of Team United Homes.
It was a cool, wet morning that saw a soaking rain come down throughout the race. The rain had the dual effect of kicking up dirt, which took me the better part of an hour to scrub off of my head, and I'm still having bits of grit come out of my eyes and hair. Of the 44-mile event, I was off the front for about 40 miles. As you can imagine, I'm really excited to have notched my first result in 2009, and that it came against such a strong, if small field.
I'll be looking for photos, and will post them if I find there. In other news, here's a race recap:
I got into a small move on the second lap, which lasted about aone lap, but we got caught going through the start/finish. I countered immediately, and a United Guy and a Kissena guy came with me. We got a pretty good gap relatively quickly, and were working well together. A couple of laps later, Jermaine came across the gap with a Fiordifruitta guy and a Champsys guy. By that time, around six laps to go, the gap was pretty big, and we were working well together. A little while later, Thadeus, of Somerville, came across with a Metro guy, but they were both cooked from bridging. Jermaine attacked with two-to-go, and I thought he was going to hang out to dry, but the break was pretty tired at that point, and we weren't riding well anylonger, so Jermaine's gap was slowly growing.
By the time we got the bell it was clear that Jermaine wasn't coming back. The champsys rider hadn't done any work, and was looking primed to sprint, as did a couple others, so I decided I'd rather not leave the result to a sprint. I attacked up the second part of the hill, and got a good gap. The gap continued to grow until I got to the decent, when the few riders remaining in the break started to pull me back. The Fior guy attacked the group, and I thought he was going to catch me going past the temple, but I dug deep and held him off. It was, without a doubt, the toughest two miles of my life.
I also raced at Johnny Cake Lane on Saturday, and I look forward to telling you about that race as soon as I can see straight...
Thursday, March 26, 2009
I've just returned to my office from spending an evening watching the last of four debates in the special election in New York's 20th Congressional District. In a word, I'm very excited for this election to be over, so that I can get back to normal life.
Anyhow, the biggest news today is that a few assholes in the Madison, WI, area had a homophobic, anti-cyclist, and just plain dumb spot on the radio station WJJO. If you haven't yet heard the clip, you can find it here. Once you're suitably outraged, feel free to use this form to express your outrage to station management.
I'm not going to bother to offer a lengthy deconstruction of the clip, as BikeSnobNYC has already done a much better job than I could do. But, needless to say, anyone who inextricably link homosexuality with spandex AND bicycles is clearly a few points south of the median on the IQ chart, and should certainly not be allowed to operate a motorcycle, as the DJ claims to do, let along conduct a live radio show.
On another note, Dante has been writting nearly non-stop about a volcano eruption near his home. I don't know how that isn't bigger news!
Anyhow, the week is nearly over, which is good, as I'm about ready to collapse on my keyboard.
Tops from the week:
1) Getting to know the ToBV course. Can you say homecourt advantage?
2) It's finally getting warmer.
3) On a related note, I'm getting outside to ride more.
4) My new SRAM Red cassette, no mounted on my Zipp race wheels.
5) On a related note, the first Johnny Cake Lane race is Saturday morning. Local racing final gets going!
Bottoms from the week:
1) 10-hour work days.
2) My room mate leaving me.
3) Those guys I mentioned earlier.
4) The rain outside.
5) Getting locked insdie my apartment this morning, and disasembling the door to get out.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
First of all, I am excited to announce that an article by me appears in the current issue of Adirondack Sports and Fitness. The article is about the Tour of the Battenkill Valley, and cycling-savvy readers will notice is written for a wide audience. For anyone (like my parents) who wonder why I'm always writing about that race, and what it's all about, the article is a good introduction. You can find it here.
On to the day's main topic:
Much to my consternation, a herd of Cub Scouts marched into the newsroom today, right around 6:30. I was under the gun to meet a 7 p.m. deadline before heading to two meetings in City Hall. Although I do my best to be a good sport in such situations, I was feeling very stressed.
However, there's nothing to soothe aggravation like the jolly tones of Stanley Hudy, sports writer extraordinaire. For some reason that has not yet been made clear to me, Hudy was given the privilege (chore?) of showing the 15-or-so scouts (and their parents) around the office.
I shot this on the sly, from under my desk
where I was hiding
For me, the highlight of the tour came when it was my turn to be featured:
"And on the News side, there's Andrew, working hard on the big story for tomorrow. What's the big story, Andrew?"
Of course, moments before, I had picked up the phone to call my boss with a question about a story. Hearing my name, I turned to Hudy, who then saw that I was on the phone. The entire troop of scouts turned to me, as if expecting me to say something:
occupies the newsroom proper
It was a good thing most of the staff was gone for the day
"Uh, Hi Betsy, it's Andrew...," I said quietly to voice mail as the scouts looked on. After I'd hung up, Stan asked me again what the big story was, and I told him it was the congressional race.
"When's that election?" asked Hudy.
"Next week," I said.
"What day?" he asked.
"Stan, Election Day is always Tuesday," I said, as some parents twittered, and it was Hudy's turn to flush.
Brien, doing his best to pretend he's part of the furniture
One kid seemed determined to go out the emergency exit
Of course, it's a nice thing that the paper opens its doors to community groups like the scouts. I wish I hadn't been on deadline, and could have enjoyed the visit more. I'd also say that in addition to doing a great job explaining the news-making process, Hudy did a capital job of inextricably linking "newspaper" and "Saratogian" in the minds of the scouts. It's never to early to start building the next generation of readers!
Here's a sense of how the visit invaded my workspace:
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
As I've implied here before, and as I announced last week on facebook, I'm in the market for a new room mate.
For some personal reasons, my current room mate has decided to move back home to her family. As such, I'm looking for someone to take over her half of the lease.
What you get:
A spacious and bright bedroom in a beautiful Victorian, two blocks from Broadway, Saratoga Springs. Plus, a bright and spacious kitchen/living/dining room, bathroom. Shared porch.
AND, the opportunity to live with a neat, considerate, up-and-coming journalist and amateur bike racer. I'm hoping to find a young professional or student to move in.
All that, for $500, including heat, electricity and trash removal. Off street parking. Did I mention that the apartment is two blocks from downtown Saratoga Springs and $500 per month?
The lease runs through Oct. 31, and the apartment is available immediately. We are advertising on Craig's List, and please feel free to pass this blog post along to anyone you know who might looking for housing in Saratoga Springs.
Non smokers only, please.
Interested parties should contact me via email: email@example.com. Thanks!
Monday, March 23, 2009
If you're a frequent Goodbye Blue Mondays reader, you doubtless know what this post is going to be about.
It's about how outraged I am that a relatively unknown rider from a small continental team won a stage of a major race in Spain.... and all anyone can talk about is Lance Armstrong crashing and breaking his collarbone.
Today's cycling news should be all about Joaquin Sobrino, the Burgos Monumental rider who finished ahead of a strong international field on the first day of Castilla y Leon. If I were covering the race, I try to write about who this guy is, what other races he's won, what the deal with his team is, and maybe how the last kilometers of the race unfolded.
Equally impressive and worthy of attention is Rock Racing taking second place with David Vitoria. The results sheet reveals other curiosities that deserve some explanation, such as; fifth-placed rider Manuel Cardoso is listed as riding for Liberty Seguros. What?
Yes, that's right, Liberty Seguros. As far as I knew, Liberty pulled out of cycling in 2006, when Manolo Saiz became embroiled in the Operation Puerto doping scandal. Well, it seems that they're back in action, and have a full compliment at Castilla.
but, instead of those interesting stories, the lead story in the cycling press is (and has been) Lance's broken bone. Lance's crash even made the front page of NYTimes.com for a bit. No mention of the race winner.
Certainly I understand Lance's appeal, and certainly, this is a major set back to his comeback season. But, please put the story in its place... below the headline of the winner.
A similar thing happened Saturday, when Lance rode like a sack of potatos at Milan San Remo. Mark Cavendish closed a huge gap to Heinrich Haussler to win by a tire, and Lance's crappy day again stole the show. Boo.
Fortunately for Lance and the Lance-obsessed public, collar bone fractures usually heal in four to six weeks, so while his participation in the Giro is now in doubt, he should be able to compete in the race we all know he cares about the most; Le Tour.
As much as I'm down on Lance, I have to say that I have been heartened to see him backing off of his initial bravado regarding his chances of winning an eighth tour, and differing to the abilities of Alberto Contador. Time will see how he bounces back from this injury. Of course, come July, I'll be rooting for a Schleck brother to win.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Earlier today, I braved the cold and snow to ride the ToBV course with promoter Dieter Drake, the majority of the Keltic Construction Cycling Team, the majority of the women from the Anthem Sports Elite team (I was the only member of the men's team present), and a few others of the capital region's most talented cyclists.
I'm gald that I had the afternoon free, and that I was able to ride the course with so many talented cyclists. However, I'm getting smarter as the race approaches, and I've realized that posting detailed descriptions of the course and its most difficult spots does absolutely nothing to advance my chances. In fact, if anything, it hurts my chances, as it gives away the advantage earned through sweat on the road to any of the thousands who read this blog each day.
Selfish? Yeah, probably, but so it goes. However, I would urge anyone racing in April to go check the course out. You will want to know what's coming.
Even if I'm not going to give it away here, I do want to get some blog fodder out of today's ride, I will offer an assessment of the course's dirt sections.
Today, almost all of the dirt was rock hard, and nearly smooth as pavement, and fast as a result. There were, however, two tricky stretches. On Mountain Road, in the Town of Easton, recently-graded stones mixed in with the dirt made for a very bumpy few miles. There is a smooth line, but, of course, I'm not going to tell you where it is. Anyone who has raced ToBV before should be able to find it without too much difficulty.
Secondly, there was one spot, toward the end of the race, on Stage Road, where a section of the road was washed out and road crews filled it in with tangerine-sized stones. It was only about a 100 feet long, but a very long 100 feet. By race day, these stones should be pretty well packed down. In the mean time, keep your speed up through the stones. I made the mistake of trying to change lines, and wound up loosing my front wheel out from under me, and walking across the stones.
Having now ridden the course twice, I'll reiterate a few of the observations I made after first riding the new course last October: though there is less elevation change, the climbs are steeper and seem to come closer together. Every climb will be decisive, and will make it unlikely that any substantial groups will survie to contest a spring in Cambridge.
After today's ride in the cold, and at a pretty good clip, I'll add one more observation: I feel for the pros, who will have to complete two laps of the course in Sunday's pro invitational. Ouch.
Dieter confirmed for those of us on that one of the US's biggest teams will be present in April, but I'll save that announcement for tomorrow, when it becomes official.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I'm having a hard time adjusting to my new schedule at work. Where my week used to start with a leisurely chance to catch up on email, clean my desk, and get ready for the week's work, before the week began, has now been replaced with my workweek starting a day late, with me already behind the ball.
Worst still, where Thursdays used to feel like the crowning of a week of achievement, all I feel now is despair that I still have two more days to work. So it goes. I know that this schedule will begin to feel more routine once I settle into it. Also, I certainly enjoyed having a three-day weekend at the end of last week. The jury is still out as to which schedule is more productive for me.
In any event, this has been a pretty good week. Mostly, I think, because the weather is improving, and my mood is improving with it. Although it'll be a little cooler tomorrow, I'm looking forward to three days of good rides ahead of me, culminating with a pre-ride of the ToBV course on Sunday with some of my Anthem Sports Elite Development Team mates. Should be a good, fast ride.
The Racing City Grand Prix continues to come along, even since yesterday's post, with Sonny Bonaccio, of Bonaccio Construction, pitching in with hay bales, and a local hotel contacting me with a possible offer to arange special rates for racers, but more on that later...
Tops from the week:
2) The cirt championships continue to evolve...
3) Farm Team Cycling.
4) My upcoming story in Adirondack Sports and Fitness... stay tuned for further details.
5) Finally having four reporters at work. It's been a long time coming.
Bottoms from the week:
1) One-day weekend this weekend.
2) The pros keep injuring themselves...
3) Poachers, in New York, of all places. Check the saratogian.com for my localized story tomorrow.
4) Wednesday comes on Thursday this week.
5) I'm on the hunt for a new room mate.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
As you'll recall, I'm working on promoting The 2009 New York State Crit Championships, to be held May 31, here in Saratoga Springs. In the midst of training for the coming season, work, and racing, the Saratoga crit is gaining momentum.
When I last wrote about the race, we had just secured a title sponsor for the race, and I will now divulge that Marshall & Sterling Insurance will be the title sponsor for this year's Racing City Grand Prix and New York State Crit Championships.
Thanks to M & S's sponsorship, the race will be able to benefit Team Billy and Farm Team Cycling.
The course I've posted above, on the city's west side, has now been informally approved by the Saratoga Springs Police Department (we will have formal approval in the coming weeks), although we are still working to determine exactly where the start/finish will be located. Likely, it will be somewhere along Grand Avenue.
In the coming weeks, I will be focusing on working to notify area residents of the event, to solicit other support from are businesses. Stay tuned for further details, and we hope to have a bike reg page up in the near future.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
On Monday, since I was off from work, I drove over to Cambridge to ride with some of the juniors on the Farm Team Cycling Club.
This year I am racing for a new team, Anthem Sports Elite Development, which is a sub team of Farm Team Cycling, making the kids technically my team mates. Both organization, along with the masters-oriented Battenkill United, are operated by uber-promoter Dieter Drake, of Tour of the Battenkill Valley fame.
At a meeting about the upcoming Saratoga Crit (details to come later in the week), Dieter suggested that I might enjoy getting out to Cambridge to ride with some of the older kids on riding for Farm Team. As he put it, anyone in the Farm Team-Anthem Sports-Battenkill United family is welcome on the rides.
So, I rolled into Cambridge around 3 p.m. yesterday afternoon, and spent an hour riding around by myself, checking out some of the roads used in June's Balloon Festival Classic, and then zipped back to the Cambridge Hotel -- birthplace of pie ala mode -- to meet up with the three older riders on this year's team; Derek, Nathan and Brandon, who are all in high school.
The four of us, led by Dieter, practiced some pacelining on some of the roads to by used by the pro/1 men in the April 18 Tour of the Battenkill Valley, completed with a sprint to the planned finish line, followed by some loops around Cambridge.
Chief among these roads is McKie Hollow Road, which has been planned for the previous two editions of the race, but has never actually been included. In 2007, it was left off due to snow the week before. In 2008, a brush fire took it off the map (not literally).
Should the road actually make it into this year's edition, it should prove quite painful. It's very step, and the decent off the back side is also steep, with a series of sharp switchbacks.
When we rode it yesterday, the road was about the consistency of peanut butter, and while traction was not an issue, upward mobility proved difficult. Adding to the challenge were a series of deep ruts cut into the road, which made line selection of prime importance. Near the top of the road, I tried to cut across a rut, only to loose my front wheel and wind up walking. Dieter says the road will be graded before the race. The next challenge came in the form of stones strewn about the road. I certainly hope there aren't too many of those on the amateur race course.
In the name of laying to rest any assumptions about the fitness and motivation of junior riders, one of the Farm Team kids, Nathan, left me and the others in the dust going up McKie Hollow and most other hills. Granted, I'm still recovering for a weekend spent hiking, but I'm not sure I could have followed him even without lead in my legs. Clearly, I'll have my work cut out for me over the next five weeks.
Later, we flew in a paceline down County Route 68, which felt about as fast as any training ride I've been on in March. The ride's substance ended with a sprint in Cambridge to the ToBV finish line. Nathan attacked on South Union Street, with Dereck on his wheel. I was off guard, but they weren't able to maintain their pace and I bridged and countered, leading into the last right-hander onto Main Street. I had a solid gap, but I heard Dieter shouting behind me.
Not knowing the etiquette for sprinting against juniors, I sat up and Nathan and Dereck flew by, with Nathan taking the sprint by a tire. It tunred out that Dieter was just urging us on. I'll take it next time...
In any event, I was glad to get a feel for how the last kilomter of the race could unfold. There is a slight rise going into the last turn. From the turn, it's about 200 meters to the line.
Afterwards, I went out for a relaxed loop with some of the younger Farm Team riders. Although the ride was a much-truncated version of the ride with the older kids, but it was cool to see a group of kids (8 and up) learning about riding in a group, pacelining, and, most of all, excited about riding bikes.
Monday afternoon is a tough time for me to get to Cambridge, but it was well worth the trip, and I certainly hope to make it out there more often.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Brett and I picked up almost exactly where we left off six years ago, when we took the very adult step -- for high school students -- of driving on our own from Brooklyn to the Adirondacks and spending four days hiking around the high peaks.
On Saturday, Brett and his girlfriend Deanna, and I drove up to The Garden, in Keene Valley, with the goal of climbing Haystack, the third-tallest of the Adirondack High Peaks. Although Brett and I are both experience hikers, this was a new kind of adventure for Deanna, who had never seen the kind of exposures we say on Haystack. She handled herself with aplomb throughout the trip -- no small feat considering that it got down into the teens as we slept in a lean-to, and that the upper slopes of Haystack were covered in slick verglas on Sunday.
Here are some photos from the weekend:
7 miles with full packs from The Garden to the lean to at Buschnell Falls
Tired faces, ready for dinner
Brett shows his approval on the way up Haystack
Can't beat that weather.
Deanna, blissfully unaware of what's to come
Still plenty of energy at this point
The ledge was much narrower than it looked
But we made short work of it
High day-time temps and bright skies lead to a thick sun crust
We punched through on every step, but it made for good purchase
so we didn't take any summit shots, this one was just below
Mount Marcy in the background
The weekend was not without its trials for each of us, but it was a great trip, and a great way for the three of us to open our accounts for the 2009 hiking year. Last year, I climbed five of the high peaks, including four in the winter. With winter nearly over, I don't think I'll be putting up similar numbers this year. Instead, I'll focus on enjoying the time that I do have to spend in the woods -- while remaining focused on riding my bike as much as possible.
As far as training goes... I expect that it will take me at least a week to get my legs back on track. 22 miles on trail, and most of it with a heavy pack left my legs feeling heavy and stiff. On a training ride earlier today, I was noticing that my circular cadence had some noticeably sharp corners. So it goes. tomorrow will be better, and it was worth it!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
First of all, CBS wants you to get a colonoscopy: http://www.cbs.com/cbs_cares/
They'll also give you a hotel room for your trouble. As someone who's probably got colonoscopies in their future, I guess this is a good idea. But it does seem like an odd prize for a sweepstakes.
Anyhow, here's the tops and the bottoms from the week:
Tops from the week:
1) The stacked pro field at the Tour of the Battenkill.
2) Racing at Bethel. I can feel my racing legs getting stronger...
3) FactCheck.org. What a resource.
4) Going hiking this weekend with Brett... the first camping of 2009, and the first time in a long time hiking with Brett. I can't wait! Photos next week.
5) Big announcement on Monday about the Saratoga Crit...
Bottoms from the week:
1) Missing two days of training for hiking... I may have a problem...
2) Lingering sore throat, and it's only getting worse...
3) Cold temps at the end of the week... I'm so ready for spring.
4) Anonymous comments on www.Saratogian.com and elsewhere. Uhg. People have no respect.
5) No internet at home. It's kinda getting old...
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
In my life away bike racing, I am a political writer for a daily newspaper. This blog sometimes gets so focused on the important stuff (bike racing) that I feel the need to remind people of my day job.
Although I feel strongly that most of what I report on is important to my readers and the greater Saratoga Springs community at large, I don't think that much of it is of much interest to readers beyond this area. As a result, I don't often write about my work.
However, for the past month or so, I've been covering the quickly-evolving race New York's 20th Congressional District, long a Republican bastion, but snatched away by Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand in 2006. As you probably know if you're at all atuned to government and politics, David Paterson appointed Gillibrand to the U.S. Senate in January, throwing the seat open to a special election, to be held on March 31.
The race is being contested by State Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R) and a political newcomer, Scott Murphy (D).
Although I've only been watching elections for 24 years, not all that long in the grand scheme of things, this election seems -- to me -- very dirty. On both sides. Adds on the radio and on TV, some paid for by the campaigns themselves and some paid for by national campaign committees, have been slinging all kinds of mud for weeks. All in all, I find it sickening, and has made me feel disinclined to support either candidate.
Today, however, I found a ray of light, to at least cut through some of the mud, even if it won't prevent further mud from being slung.
FactCheck.org, The Annenberg Political Fact Check, is a non-partisan, non-profit agency run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The stated goal is to check the factual accuracy of statements made by politicians in the media, debates, and other types of public forums. These people were extremely helpful during last year's presidential election.
For my purposes, I found an article they put out on the 20th CD race very interesting, and wish that they had more resources to devote to this race, as I don't have time to sift through the near-hourly insults that get funneled into my email from each camp.
The bottom line, however, anyone who has even a passing interest in politics -- be it personal or professional -- should check out the site. It's a great read.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Brief post tonight, because I'm just now sitting down to blog, and the coffee shop is closing in eight minutes, at which time I will be kicked out on the street, and internet-less until tomorrow.
It's just been announced that Team OUCH, home of former 2006 Tour de France champion Floyd Landis will race the Tour of the Battenkill Valley. Although Landis has not been named in the preliminary team roster for the April 19 pro race, several prominent names in American cycling are expected to take the race, including Tour of California standout Tim Johnson (who also happens to be reigning US 'cross champion, and will start as a strong favorite), Karl Menzies, John Murphy. I'd be willing to bet that one-time Good Bye Blue Mondays commentor Jon Chodroff will be racing as well.
With Team OUCH now slated to race, as well as BMC Racing, Team Type One, Kelly Benefits Strategies, and Bissel, several of the top U.S.-based domestic pro teams, along with several from Canada are now slated to compete in the nation's largest pro/am bike race. Obviously, this news means that the race is steadily gaining prestige, and increasing it's draw. Perhaps we'll see Pro Tour teams racing in 2010.
Here's the official release from Dieter:
Cambridge, NY - Team OUCH, Presented by Maxxis (www.teamouch.com) has accepted an invitation to the 2009 Tour of the Battenkill (www.tourofthebattenkill.com) on April 18-19, 2009 in Cambridge, NY. The preliminary team roster includes recent Vuelta Mexico Sprint Champion Karl Menzies of Tasmania, 5-time US Cyclocross Champion Tim Johnson of Beverly, MA, and 2008 Tour of Taiwan Champion John Murphy of Jacksonville, FL.
Monday, March 09, 2009
I've found some photos from Sunday's exploits at Bethel, courtesy of J.P. Kaminski and stage 1/Fusion-Think Racing. Thanks for the shots. Although I love race photos, both of myself and of others, I will say that I'm a tad frustrated that after at least 10 attacks in two races, always right in front of the photogs, not one attack appears to have been cuaght on film!
OK,OK, I'm kidding. As usual, it's awesome that so many people were out shooting us spendexed weekend warriors, and I'm grateful to have the media to share with readers here.
Next time, I'm going to attack twice as much to ensure proper photo-documentation.
The photos are from the both the 3/4 and 1/2/3 races.
The first shot of my new wheels in action..
Look how fast they look!
The 1/2/3 race was marginally longer and faster than the 3/4 race. It was a total of about 30 miles over 34 laps. It was, however, a whole lot smoother. I was still recovering from the previous effort when the race started, so I was planning on sitting in until I started feeling better, and then to see if I could ride a little more aggressively toward the front.
I figured I could try an attack or two, but after being unable to get away in the slower 3/4 field, I didn't hold much hope of actually being able to stick a move.
I shaved my legs for the first time the night before
I always hate when my legs have their pre-tan pale
Sure enough, my assumptions proved correct. I was able to sit in comfortably, and by the time we hit 30 laps to go, I was feeling much better. Even my power-shot induced nausea from the previous race had faded. I moved up in the field, and sat tight in the middle for a while before making the first a few cameo appearances at the front, including one hard effort that saw me briefly off the front, and bridging to a break away through the disintegrating front end of the field.
Of course, it all came back together once we hit the strong head wind on the back stretch.
I like to be on the inside on the climb,
as that line funneled you to the outside on turn one, the hardest on the course*
In the end, it came down to another field sprint, with me finishing somewhere in the middle. By the time it was all done, I felt like I'd got a very good work out after 57 miles of crit riding. As tired as I was, my traveling companion Mark, must have been feeling even worse. Not only did his team mate Andy Ruiz (a member of last August's winner Empire State Games team) win the race, but Mark was active and at the front throughout the 1/2/3. Early season form made good!
Matt Godeke is on my wheel
My other wheel is lost in the crease
Now, a day later, my legs feel better, but I can tell that it was a very hard effort. Of course -- that's what early season races are all about. Next, I'm going to start focusing on hill workouts. My next scheduled event is the first of three Johnny Cake Lane races on 3/24 in Coxsackie.
You can see Matt on the right, wearing white shoe covers
I'm closer to the front, getting ready to attack
*At Bethel, the easiest crit course I've ever raced on, using the term "hardest turn" is extremely relative.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
I know I raced hard when dinner isn't appealing, a shower isn't appealing, all I want to do is lie on the floor and moan.
As promised, and despite my better judgment, I met up with Mark Sumner in Clifton Park, and drove with him three hours to Bethel, Ct., for the Ris van Bethel, the first race in a two-month long training series. The race is held on a quiet loop in an industrial park. The start/finish is on the top of a short hill, and the rest of the .9 mile loop is generally downhill. Today, there was a stiff headwind on the back stretch.
I raced in both the 3/4 and 1/2/3 events, pinning on both numbers at once. Unfortunately, I didn't place in either, but -- as I mentioned above -- I feel like I got a great high-intensity workout, and even saw some of the speed that netted me an 8th place finish at last June's Lou Maltese Team Invitational. (One of my favorite photos from last year came from that race.) It's early in the season, and I can feel myself getting faster already, so it was encouraging to feel this power so early on.
Going into the the 3/4 race, I'd decided that I wanted to ride aggressive, with the goal of getting off the front and into a breakaway. In the 30-lap event, I think I attacked the field about every three laps. Mostly, I would accelerate on the hill, roll into the downhill and pin it into the headwind. My best solo effort was to get away for nearly a whole lap, at which time, the glimpse of last summer's speed faded to the early-season realities of today, and the field caught up to me.
In general, the race was fairly negative, perhaps due to everyone's early-season fitness levels. On a few of my fliers, I was able to get into small groups that were either already up the road, or that came with me. In almost every case, people were happy to sit on, but didn't want to pull through. In other cases, we'd get a nice rotation going for a couple hundred meters, and then someone would sputter out, and we'd all wind up back in the field. Anyway, I was having fun, and greatly enjoyed ripping over the top of the hill, where a few spectators were watching the race.
Eventually I got into a three-lap rythm: attack on one lap, drift back through the field to recover on lap two, work my way back toward the front of the field on lap three. Repeat.
Matt Godeke, of CBRC, was also in the race, and rode agressivley throughout. With one lap to go, Matt pulled me up through the field, with the goal of setting up the sprint. Unfortunately, no one gave Matt the memo that I am an absolutely atrocious sprinter. I didn't want to ruin Matt's good efforts, so I gamely did my best to get set for one last big acceleration. But, I got swarmed from behind, lost my nerve, and finished mid-pack.
I had sucked down a gu moments before the race, and it didn't sit well. I would say that I wanted to puke for about 85% percent of the race. I was hoping to feel better in the next race.
I took one lap to cool down, zipped back to the car to refill my water bottle and cut my 3/4 number off, took one more lap, then got set for the afternoon's second race, the 1/2/3.
BUT, because I've been up since 6 a.m., and because it's now 11:37 p.m., I'm going to save tales from the 1/2/3 race for tomorrow's post. There were lots of people taking photos, perhaps some will emerge overnight. In the mean time, welcoem to the work week!
Thursday, March 05, 2009
As mentioned yesterday, I went to a press conference on the Tour of the Battenkill Valley today.
There wasn't much new news about the race itself, but it was very cool to see a room full of people (normal people, not just racers) excited about this race.
As we already know, the race will be the largest pro/am bike race in the United States, with about 1,500 racers expected to register by race day, competing in 18 categories. In addition, Promoter Dieter Drake and other organizers are expecting as many as 50,000 spectators. That's a lot of people in a county that only has a population of about 50,000.
For every anticipated spectator, the globe's newest microchip manufacturer GLOBALFOUNDRIES has given the event $1 ($50,000 total), to earn its status as presenting sponsor. Officials from the new company were on hand to talk about how excited they are to participate, and how they recognize that it's kinda funny that their first big community outreach is in rural Washington County, rather than in Saratoga County, where most of their investment is located. And yet, this also seems to be a recognition that the project's footprint is much wider than geographic borders.
Also at the press conference were various local dignitaries, and representatives of state and national legislators, including Senator Schumer and Assemblyman Tony Jordan. I think any doubts about the statewide importance of this event (and by that, I mean importance to non-cyclists) must now be laid to rest.
Also, the Battenkill Valley Creamery has designed and released a commemorative 1/2 gallon of chocolate milk, which was on display at today's press conference. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to sample. The creamery is the only fluid milk producer that takes milk from cow to consumer in Saratoga, Warren, or Washington counties.
So, I'm feeling more and more excited about the race. I can only hope that my training comes to fruition! To that end, I'll be venturing down to Bethel, CT this Sunday to resume racing. this is a crit, where I once finished 9th in a 3/4 field, shortly before bombing my first attempt at the GMSR.
This weekend I'll be racing in the 3/4 and 1/2/3 fields, and will hopefully improve on my 9th place finish! Check back for a report on Sunday.
Anyhow, here's the top and bottoms from the week:
Tops from the week:
1) Even if I didn't win the first race, it's racing season!
2) Spring is coming. I can feel it.
3) Zipp wheels. Not just hype.
4) My new (to me) wok. Awesome.
5) Tax rebates.
Bottoms from the week:
1) Spring is coming... yet, there is still ice everywhere.
2) Epic Movie. What a crap film.
3) Driving to Albany for a 7:30 a.m. meeting. That's the last time I'm driving south for work... (probably not, but I'll say it anyway).
4) Heart burn. Had my first experience Sunday. I hope it was also my last....
5) Headset maintinance. At least I've got some crack mechanics to help me out.
Ordinarily, this post marks the end of my work week, and the start of the weekend. But, those days are gone. I'm now on a Saturday rotation, and didn't work on Monday. SO, I'll be at work tomorrow and Saturday, then enjoying a 1-day break on Sunday. Woo.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Although I've been very focused on the Tour of the Battenkill (both in my training, dreaming and my writing), there are other races coming up. In the nearer future, we have the Johnny Cake Lane series, which I'll be using as a pre-Battenkill tune up.
May will bring me back to Bear Mountain (where I'll be hoping not to repeat last year's disaster). June has a few things on the horizon, including the second-annual Wilmington-Whiteface Road Race. Although this was a great race, and I felt very good about my performance there, the race also holds a special place in my heart because a blog post that I wrote following the event has been one of my most-read posts of all time. Now, eight months after publication, the post still accounts for 2% of the total traffic on this blog, receiving 34 page views in February -- the most traffic of any individual post.
For a while I wondered why this post was so popular, but I've since given up on wondering, and am instead just proud that I penned something that has such a strong following. The only theory I ever had that made any sense was that my mention of the oft-googled "Ironman Lake Placid" led to many of the hits.
Anyhow, the race was a great event last year, and this year, a crit in Saranac Lake on Sunday June 14 has been added to the event, to follow the road race on Saturday June 13. They're calling the event the North Country Race Weekend, and it's not to be missed!
As long as I'm able to get that Saturday off from work, count on seeing me at both events, where I'll be looking to improve upon my 12th place from last year, which was just outside of the money.
Here is a press release that I recieved today from the event's promoters:
Dear Participant in 2008 Wilmington-Whiteface Road Race,
Thank you for taking part in our race last year. The 2nd annual WWRR will take place Saturday, June 13, 2009 (one week earlier than last year). We'll be using last year's course, which was very well received; format and categories will be mostly the same.
This year we are pleased to offer a second day of racing, the Saranac Lake Downtown Criterium, the day after the road race, Sunday, June 14. Our USAC permit applications for both races are pending now and both races should be up on BikeReg by mid March. We'll inform you when they are up.
We hope you'll come back and race both days and bring your friends. We had a tremendously positive response from the racers last year and hope to make it an even better North Country racing experience this year! So please mark your calendars for June 13 and 14. Details soon.
Jim Walker and Bill McGreevy
Team Placid Planet
Race directors, Wilmington-Whiteface Road Race
One last note: I'll be at a Battenkill press conference tomorrow afternoon. Check back tomorrow for an update on the latest from the biggest and best pro/am race in the U.S.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
I'm too worn to write much tonight, so I thought I'd offer you something a little different.
One benefit of spending all winter on a trainer (the only benefit, other than fitness) is that I've been able to watch a lot of movies. Without a TV (cable, bunny ears, digital airwaves or otherwise), this has been even more true than in years past.
Here are the top ten movies that I've watched this winter while spinning:
(In no particular order)
1) Get Smart
2) Lord of War
3) Blood Diamond
5) Walk Hard -- The Dewey Cox Story
9) Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix
10) Pirates of the Carribean
As you can see, I am partial -- while spinning -- to movies that require little to no focus to digest while concentrating on intervals, and other types of bike-related suffering. I think the staff at the Saratoga Springs Public Library is beginning to wonder how I can possibly watch so many movies...
Fortunately, it's almost spring, and soon I'll be able to turn the laptop off and watch the road passing under my wheels, rather than the flickering laptop screen. Boy, I can't wait for that.
Monday, March 02, 2009
I don't like to boast about my equipment too often, but I also feel that blog readers should know what I'll be bringing to the races this season:
Scott is both looking and riding faster than ever
A diet brought the UCI minimum weight within sight
Even if I am no faster this year than I was last year, at least my bike is going to be quicker, thanks to a new set of very-fast hoops. Thanks to the good people at 30 East Marketing, LLC, I was able to acquire a set of Zipp 404 tubular wheels, which I'll be racing on in most of my events this year.
These wheels, in addition to their increased aerodynamics thanks to the deep section carbon rims, are also lighter than the Mavic Ksyriums SL wheels that I've been racing on for the past several seasons.
Although I'm always dubious of the wisdom in counting on technology to make you faster, after racing on these wheels Saturday, I have to admit that they are noticeably faster. In particular, they are much stiffer than the Ksyriums, which makes them accelerate faster, while the aero shape seems to make them hold speed better.
The biggest difference, however, is that the tubular tires (I'll be racing on Continental Sprinters this season) give the bike a whole new feel, thanks to the refined contact patch offered by a tubular tire. I noticed this immeidately when I rode the wheels for the first time in Prospect Park. The tires grip corners with much more confidence than the clincher tires I'm used to riding.
So, like I said, the bike is faster, even if I'm not -- but hopefully, I'm faster too.
I've never been one to get caught up in weight, but I hung my bike on a scale for the first time on Friday evening in full race trim -- Zipp wheels, not water or saddle bag -- and the verdict is that my bike is frighteningly light considering it's 58 cm size -- 7.3 kilos, or 16.25 pounds. That's only half a kilo or one-and-a-quarter pound above the UCI regulated minimum wieght for a racing bike.
Were I to upgrade to a Shimano Dura Ace or SRAM Red drive train, I'd likely to right at the limit. That's *almost* enough to make me wish I'd gone with the seat mast option when I bought my bike a year ago.
Anyhow, as I mentioned in my blogaction check in last week, my much-loved Diadora Pro Racer shoes have met an untimely death. The culprit is a siezed bolt, which led to a ruined base plate, rendering the shoe useless. Although new shoes was not a planned purchase this year (nor was there room for it in the budget), I've made room, because you can't be a bike racer without a decent pair of shoes. This was made clear to me after racing Saturday in a very old pair of Diadoras with a plastic sole, but intact cleats, on Saturday.
After the race on Saturday, I went to R&A Cycles, on Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn, and was able to negotiate a lower price on a pair of DMT Kyoma shoes. I've been curious about DMT shoes for some time, mostly because of thier catchy adds in cycling magazines, but they fit me very well.
These are a simpler affair than my old Pro Racers, with just three velcro straps to hold them on your foot, rather than the ratchets and buckles I had on the Diadoras. Nevertheless, I've now spent five hours pedaling in them, and find that they hold me foot very well -- maybe even better than their outgoing predecesors. I got smart this time, and opted not to go with white shoes.
White shoes look very pro -- for about five minutes. Then they just look like crap. I'll gladely take the slightly-less pro black option in exchange for a pair of shoes that look good for longer. Besides, I'm not a pro -- at least, not yet.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
The end of my week's break from the blog finds me at my parent's house in Brooklyn. I was originally going to stay here until tomorrow, but with more than a foot of snow on the way to blanket much of the northeast, I'm going to make a break for it while I still can.
I was going to write a full report on the first race of the season, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. Here's the brief version:
I kicked off the racing season Saturday in Prospect Park, and I had planned on continuing the season today, at Bethel, CT, but that race was canceled Saturday afternoon due to snow. Instead, I was going to race in Central Park, but when I opened the door to assess the temperature (at 5 a.m.), there was an accumulation of sleet on the ground, so I shut the door and went back to bed.
Prospect was windy, cold, and very fast for February. I tried to go off the front a few times, but don't yet have the top end to stay away. The race came down to a field sprint, which I did not win. So goes the beginning of the season.
Although I was initially worries about my form, which was less "Ferrari" than "Honda," when I thought about the first race of last year, it wasn't much different, I've still got plenty of time to work on my top end. And that's exactly what I'll do.
See you tomorrow, with photos of my my bike's new look, and further updates on the start of the season.
One more point. I sent the following email out to update friends and family on my recent writings (obviously, I can't attach a word document, please let me know if you'd like to receive a copy of the story:
We are now mercifully closer to spring than we are to fall, and yet, I'm still thinking of autumn. Why? Because the current issue of Velo News (which landed with subscribers last week, and will hit news stands in mid-March), features a story by me, about Manny Goguen, a 17 year old from Hopedale, Massachusetts, who is one of the top junior cyclocross racers in the United States and was able to spend some time racing in Europe last December. Athletic prowess aside, what makes Manny's story nearly unbelievable is that Manny suffers from Cyctic Fibrosis -- a lung-clogging respiratory disease that shortens life expectancy and currently has no cure. In spite of everything stacked against him -- and one of his younger brothers, who also has CF and races -- Manny is finding success at the sport's highest levels. It's a great story, and definitely worth checking out.
Unfortunately, the story is not available online, so I've attached a Word version of the story -- but you should go buy the magazine anyway.
In other throwbacks to fall, I realized that I never sent out links to my last two columns in CX Magazine. Here's one, and here's the other one. Believe it or not, after a reason of struggling, I ended my 'cross race on a high note. Read all about it.
'Cross season is now long done, and, as such, I've scaled back my writing about 'cross, and am instead focusing my energy on other cycling-related writing. Besides the Goguen story, Velo News has been allowing me to following the meteoric rise in popularity in April Tour of the Battenkill Valley, the nation's largest single-day pro/amateur bike race, to take place in New York's Washington County, just across the Hudson River from Saratoga.
The race is quickly becoming on of the most-highly regarded events in the nation. You can read two of my most recent articles about it here and here.
At my day job, I've been very busy following the race for the 20th congressional district, which Senator Kirsten Gillibrand vacated in January. With only a month left before the election, the candidates have been tearing all over the district, fighting what should be a very close election. My other main preoccupation is Advanced Micro Devices which is planning on building a new microchip fabrication plant plan in in southern Saratoga County. Work has certainly been busy of late, and very interesting. You can check out my latest stories at The Saratogian's website.
And, as always, you can follow my daily dispatches of trying to be a bike racer living in Saratoga Springs at my blog, Good Bye Blue Mondays.
I'm sorry that it's been so long since my last update. Hopefully, I'll have more news to report before too long! Write back if you get the chance, I always love to hear from my friends. Take care, and join me in hoping spring comes soon,
P.S. Please let me know if you would like to be removed from this list.