Two weeks ago, while in the car on the way home from Bear Mountain, a wise and skilled bike racer suggested to me that winning and losing can become habits. While I don't yet seem to have figured out how to make a habit of winning, per se, I went on a hot streak in May 2008 that extended through the balance of that season, and lasted until about May of the following year. At that point I upgraded to a 2, and have been making a habit of performing poorly ever since.
Needless to say, I'm doing everything I can think of to reverse my fortunes, including, but not limited to, working with a coach, listening to a recording of Arnold Schwartzenager's "Pumping Iron" every night while I sleep, watching videos of pro races, working with energy consultants, training with power and inhaling effervescent blush wine before, during, and after training rides.
My troubles lately have been particularly pronounced in crits, where I not only have been losing, but losing in spectacular fashion that has seen me pulled as early as a quarter of the way into a race, as was the case at the Saratoga spa:crit. Of course, I was tired from promoting that race AND moving the day prior, but you see my point.
Let me bring this whole thing home; I decided that what I needed to do to start feeling better about my shoddy results was to adjust my expectations. It's time, I realized, to come to terms with the facts that I don't have the legs right now to win a race like the Tour of Somerville -- which I raced earlier today -- but not getting dropped should be a reasonable goal.
Such was my mindset when I got in the car this morning with my romantic accomplice in Brooklyn to make the short drive to New Jersey. My romantic accomplice, myself, and my good-for-nothing younger brother Eric spent way too much time unsuccessfully trying to navigate roads in and around Paramus this weekend. After that experience, I wasn't looking forward to making another foray back to the "Garden State," but Somerville turned out to be a nice town.
After a slight delay leaving Brooklyn, we arrived in Somerville with 45 minutes to my race -- or so I thought. Turned out the race was to start about 5 minute after the registration volunteer handed me my number. Panic ensued, but I managed to get myself dressed and the bike put together and to the start line before the race started. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to pee, which made the 25-mile race a tad uncomfortable.
Because of my tardiness, I started on the back row, which is obviously not ideal, but such is life. The course at Somerville is pretty wide, so moving up turned out not to be too much of a challenge.
I spent one lap, early on, at the front, using it as a bit of a warm up, since I'd obviously not had time to warm up prior to the start. In the race with me were my Champion System team mates Roberto and Sergio.
After my one cameo on the front I tucked in near the back, worked on accelerating out of turns, and worked my ass off to not get dropped. Everything went to plan.
Better yet, whereas last week in Wilmington I had the dubious pleasure of watching my teammate Sean Smith win the 2/3 race, this week Sergio took 3rd in the race, and I got to celebrate with him on a cool-down lap that we had both earned (although he earned it a little more than me).
So that was pretty exciting. Plus, my parents came to keep R.A. company during the race, and it was great to have all three of them cheering me on. Also in the category of things that were good today: I lowered the stem on my new bike this week, which did wonders to improving the handling. Whereas the machine felt like a beach cruiser at Wilmington, it felt reasonably similar to a race bike today.
To try and bring this whole thing home once again: by meeting my fairly low goal today, I'm now feeling hungry to go out next weekend and improve. It's time to change my habits, even if I have to do it incrementally, which setting attainable goals for each event.
After the race, R.A. and I settled in for lunch at a sidewalk cafe with a view of the classic race course, where we watched the elite women's race. We took an ambling stroll back to the car and watched a bit of the pro men's race, then hit the road for home, stopping briefly for a dip in Lake Welch. By the way, if you click on the link, beware: in real life, the beach is packed, and no one picks up their trash. It was still really nice to get in the water.
All in all, I'd say it was a pretty solid holiday Monday. This weekend had different types of adventures on Saturday and Sunday, but more on that later.
Monday, May 31, 2010
Two weeks ago, while in the car on the way home from Bear Mountain, a wise and skilled bike racer suggested to me that winning and losing can become habits. While I don't yet seem to have figured out how to make a habit of winning, per se, I went on a hot streak in May 2008 that extended through the balance of that season, and lasted until about May of the following year. At that point I upgraded to a 2, and have been making a habit of performing poorly ever since.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Another late night leaving work, and I've still got a mountain of laundry to fold before I can get into bed. Uhg. Why is it that as time passes I only seem to get busier and have less free time?
Anyhow, in order to shake things up (actually, it's because I'm going to a bar mitzvah on Saturday), I spent some money on non-bike stuff, like a decent-looking pair of shoes an a belt, this afternoon. Kinda funny -- feels like it's been a while since I last did that sort of thing, and my one pair of black shoes and my one pair of brown shoes are pretty tired.
... And then I looked at my bank statement, realized that rent is due on Tuesday, and felt like an asshole. So it goes.
Anyhow, as I mentioned, I'm heading to New Jersey for a bar mitzvah early Saturday morning, and then to enjoy the holiday in Brooklyn, with a stop in Somerville, where I will try not to get dropped in the town's eponymous bike race. I'll be trying extra-hard not to get dropped, as my romantic accomplice will be on hand, so a good showing will do great things for my ego. Not that she seems to care how I do in bike races.
Of course, that means we'll also be cutting a rug at the aforementioned bar mitvzah. I hope those 13-year-old kids won't be too embarrassed by Cousin Andrew's antics. Who am I kidding? Clearly cousin Eric will be in charge of embarrassing the Bernstein name.
Speaking of Eric, he's leaving for Damascus to spend the summer in less than a week. Apparently, he's going to "bring enlightenment to the Middle East." Yes Eric, I do think it's a good idea for Jewish kid from Brooklyn to travel to Syria and "enlighten" the locals. Good luck with that.
On my advice (though he'll never admit it), Eric has started a blog to document his travels. He says Eric in Damascus is going to "blow blue-mondays out of the water." Well, given Eric's laziness, I'll believe that when I see it, but it'll probably be fun to read about his struggles with the cultural mores this summer -- that is, if he ever gets around to writing about it. As you say, Eric: "It's ON!"
Enough brotherly love for one night.
Tops from the week:
1) The rowing infographic I created today, with words by Stan Hudy. Definitely my best page design so far. Pick up Friday's Saratogian, and check out page 6B.
2) This weekend's road trip to the city. I'm really looking forward to getting out of town for a day. Of course, I'm extra glad that my accomplice is coming along!
3) I finally got to ride and race my new bike. It only took three months...
4) The weather today. So nice out. Yesterday was a little too hot.
5) Tuesday night's world championships -- no one could touch me on Lake D, although Aleks came close.
Bottoms for the week:
1) So much to do, never enough time.
2) Andy's close call.
3) My calf is ridiculously tight, and my massage stick isn't doing enough to help.
4) 7 a.m. roll-out to get to New Jersey early Saturday.
5) My apartment's previous tenant didn't change his address. Now I get his junk mail. Gee, thanks.
P.S. As a result of my trip downstate, there will be no post Sunday evening. See you Monday, and happy Memorial Day!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I was out riding today on South Shore Road in the town of Day where I had a chance encounter with my buddy Scott, who was heading in the opposite direction, making good use of his day off. It was really hot today, and I should have taken better note of Scott's condition when he said that he planned to stop to fill his bottles at a non-existent Stewart's later on in the ride. (Everyone knows that there is no Stewart's in Batchellerville!)
Sure enough, Scott bonked pretty hard later in the ride (he told me later via text), and his girlfriend was fortunately free to come pick him up.
I was in better shape than that, but my water bottles were completely dry when I got home. Had I been a little farther out, I too would have been a few degrees south of "toasted" by the time I rolled onto Franklin Street.
The point being, when we're out there riding on our own, even the slightest miscalculation can lead to problems, minor or severe. It's pretty easy to overcook a turn when you're riding cross-eyed with dehydration. And those are just the problems we cause for ourselves.
Things can get much worse when others cause problems for us.
Last weekend, my friend Andy, a regular on the 6 a.m. rides of which I am an occasional participant, was hit by a car while riding alone in the Town of Greenfield.
I first heard about the collision via an email that Andy (fortunately suffering from no grave injuries) sent out Monday. I saw him a little later, while I was working at the bike shop. His bike was totaled in a way that I've rarely seen -- it was as if someone had dropped a thousand-pound pallet on one side of the bike, warping and crushing the aluminum frame and wheels.
To hear Andy tell it, a teenager driving a car with several friends took a left-hand turn way to fast, fishtailed, and hit Andy with the front quarter, sweeping him up onto the hood and into the windshield. The poor guy was just riding along, getting ready to stop at an intersection, when the car came skidding at him sideways.
The accident and Andy's email led to some fruitful discussion among area cyclists on the problems we all encounter with drivers who don't seem to understand that we cyclists also pay taxes and therefore had a right to use the roads in a safe manner -- without fear of red necks in pick up truckss or teenagers in sedans. Many of us, incidentally, drive cars in addition to riding bikes -- imagine that!
All week, I've been feeling grateful about a few things:
-I'm so glad that Andy wasn't hurt in a serious way and that he will be able to be out riding with us in the nearish future (once he gets some insurance money for a new ride, and once his injuries heal.)
-That I haven't been hit by a car since that one time, way back in 1998, which caused some bike damage, but not too much person damage.
-Incidents of this type are relatively unusual -- although my former neighbor was involved in a much worse collision just about a year ago.
My suggestion to Andy was to reach out to some folks who educate young drivers, that his story might be used to impress upon new drivers that they ought not drive like idiots, even though cars are fast and they are young and dumb. My former neighbor suggested that it is of the utmost importance that he see the driver sanctioned for the proper vehicle and traffic violations. I hope Andy follows both bits of advice -- the roads are dangerous but learning from mistakes and enforcing laws is one way to help change things for the better -- I hope.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
You know I'll be there...
New York State Cycling Championships come to Wilmington, NY and Saranac Lake, NY
Wilmington, NY, 04/06/2010- Team Placid Planet ave announced plans to host the
New York State Criterium and Road Racing Championships in June of 2010. The
3rd annual Wilmington-Whiteface Road Race (NYS Road Race Championships) will be
held on Saturday, June 12th 2010 and the 2nd annual Saranac Lake Downtown
Criterium (NYS Criterium Championships) the following day on Sunday, June
13th 2010. Both races are sanctioned by USA Cycling and provide opportunities
for men, women, youth, and first-time racers to participate.
The Wilmington-Whiteface Road Race will start at the Wilmington Town Park and
take Bonnie View Road to a 13.7 mile loop on back roads in the town of Black
Brook before returning via Bonnie View Road and finishing 1.6 miles up Whiteface
Mountain to the Santa’s Workshop entrance. Race distance will range from 12
miles for 10-14-year-old Juniors, to 41.2 miles for first timers, and 82 miles
for professional racers. The course features scenic views, rolling terrain, and
a finishing climb that will challenge all riders.
The Saranac Lake Downtown Criterium is a shorter event designed for sprinters
and spectators. The course is a three-turn .55 mile loop around Main Street,
Broadway, Dorsey St, and Rt 3. The course will prove to be fast, technical, and
exciting to watch.
More information including registration information and volunteer opportunities
can be found on the Team Placid Planet website at www.teamplacidplanet.orgor by
emailing email@example.com [mailto:race@teamplacidplanet.
About Team Placid Planet:Team Placid Planet is a cycling and multisport team
based in Lake Placid and the High Peaks Region and welcoming members from all
over Essex, Clinton, and Franklin Counties. The team aims to promote good
sportsmanship, fair play, and physical fitness, raise awareness of cycling and
triathlon, and serve as ambassadors for visitors to the region. There are
opportunities for riders of all ages and experience levels to be a part of the
team including a Youth Program, group training rides, race clinics, and
informational meetings. Please join us at our next meeting or find more
information online at www.teamplacidplanet.org.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Yes, I will be adding another water bottle cage
Astute observers will notice that the ______ don't match.
After months of anticipation, I finally got to ride my Champion System bike on Friday, and then raced it on Saturday and Sunday. Thanks very much to the team and sponsor for this sweet setup! How cool to have a bike that matches exactly the team kit!
As far as the ride goes: non-racers don't typically understand this, but a race bike is a little like a running shoe, in that even a slight change in set-up or geometry (fit) can make a huge difference.
Such is the case with this bike, and I am very much still getting the fit dialed. In addition to changing the fit, I've also "made the leap" -- to borrow a marketing slogan -- from Shimano to SRAM, so I'm learning how to shift all over again in addition to everything else.
This bike is noticeably stiffer than my Scott
Despite the increased height, it seems to corner pretty well
All that being said, it's clear that this is a sweet ride. With heavy wheels (but no water bottle cages) it weighed in at about 16.5 pounds, which is on the light side for a 59cm frame. I haven't done any real climbs with the bike yet (there are no hills at Floyd Bennett), but I'm willing to conjecture that the bike's weight (it's about a pound heavier than my Scott Addict, which it's replacing) wont be felt so much on the climbs, as in the sprints -- this bike is a very stable platform.
I need to cut a little more off the top of the steerer
It'll get there, though
The stiffness comes courtesy of oversized tubes throughout, and an especially beefy bottom bracket.
The bike is built up mostly with SRAM Force components. There's also a proprietary seat post, 3T bar and stem, Shimano Ultegra pedals, FSA headset, all rounded out with an Airionne saddle. The most blinged-out bit is the Quarq Cinqo/SRAM power meter/crank, which I'll be pairing with a Garmin 500 to add some numbers to my training. The SRAM-integrated Quarq Cicqo is a new part, just recently on the market, and one which allows you to track power without worrying about wires all over the place, or by using a dedicated hub. Training with power will be quite a departure for me, and one which I'm sure I'll be parsing here on the blog for months to come.
I'm running Fizik bar tape, which has about no cushioning, but great grip, which is why I like it. Rather than the stock cables that came with my Force DoubleTap shifters, I used Gore Ride On cables to improve shifting performance, and hopefully extend the cable life. One final note on the build: I'm running a Shimano chain and cassette (except on my Zipp 404 race wheels, which have a SRAM Red cassette). The collective wisdom seems to be that the shifting with SRAM cassettes and chains is not as good as with the Shimano counterparts. I think that whole missing-tooth thing may not have panned out that well. Sorry SRAM...
Besides, I've got a half-dozen Shimano cassettes on various wheels and in various gear ranges that I don't want to replace! So far, the shifting seems to be spot on.
I decided not to buy new wheels, as I've got about four different sets to chose from, so I'll continue to train on the best wheel ever -- the Mavic Open Pro -- and to race on either Mavic Ksyrium SLs or the aforementioned Zipps. It's nice to have options.
The bike is very compliant, and had no trouble on Floyd's bumpy tarmac
See the grassy intrusions?
So, like I said, I raced this thing this weekend. The bottom line: It's a sweet bike. But don't ask me who made it -- it's a Champion System, obviously.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
I'm finally sitting down on my couch back on Franklin Street after leaving home at 8 yesterday, driving 6 hours (should have been 5 -- thanks a lot, Princeton) to Wilmington, Delaware for the Bank of America Wilmington Grand Prix.
I've driven pretty far to race my bike, but this road trip is, without a doubt, the longest I've yet undertaken. Considering that I was pulled from the 2/3 race about halfway through, I'm not quite sure it was worth the 660-odd miles I put on my car.
But, Wilmington is a real-deal bike race, and it's important for any team that wants to get noticed to attend such events. So, of course, Champion Systems was racing -- we ain't no slouches! On the up side of me riding poorly and getting dropped, I had the pleasure of watching teammate Sean Smith win the race. Sean, who started racing this season as a Cat 5, has been on a tear, of late.
After hiding in the disintegrating peloton so completely that I was convinced he'd been dropped, Sean attacked with a little more than a lap left, and stuck his solo move to the line, leaving the rest of the peloton wondering where he'd come from.
Nice moves, Sean!
Behind, Tom, Sergio, and Roberto all rode well to finish in the top-end of the field.
We were also represented in the pro/1 race, which was powered by a fair number of NRC teams (this being an NRC crit). Igor led the charge, surviving the rain-induced carnage to finish in the mid-30s, just out of the money. I was glad it stopped raining before my race...
After waffling on my plans for the weekend, I got closed out of today's Kelly Cup/Bike Jam -- which I think is just as well, since racing in Baltimore would only have led to more time in the car. Instead, I drove to Brooklyn last night, where I had dinner with Brett, broke, then fixed, his bike, did some laundry, slept a little, and then raced the Kings County Kermesse at Floyd Bennett Field this morning.
After a string of disappointing results of late (capped off with Saturday's implosion in Wilmington), I was really hoping to pull off a decent race on Sunday. The Kermesse was a 123 handicap race, where the 3s started with a 2:30 head start on the 1s and 2s. We were all racing for the same pot, so we had our work cut out for us from the gun.
I haven't raced Floyd since 2007, when I last participated in the Tuesday night series held there, so I was fairly excited about getting back to the airfield, crappy pavement, R/C airplanes, helicopters, coastal winds and all. Floyd did not disappoint. After motoring along for the first few laps, taking only a handful of seconds each lap out of the 3s, the gap started to come down quickly on the third lap, and after six or seven laps, the race back together -- or, mostly, anyway.
A flurry of attacks came right as the race came back together, and although I was feeling a lot better, and able to participate in the attacks, feints, and counters, I put my money in the wrong move, and then missed the right move. So it goes. After cruising around in the peloton for a while, I latched onto a bridge attempt by Scott Demel, a friend and former teammate. One other rider joined us, and we quickly left the remaining peloton behind.
Scott didn't last long, but the other guy and I rode efficiently to catch two others in no-man's-land, and began reeling in the next group up the road. After five laps of hard work, we caught them with just under a k left in the race. I was pretty much toast at that point, and with a further five up the road, getting in the money was going to be tough.
In the end, I rolled across in about 11th or 12th, happy that I didn't get dropped, and that I was able to drag my ass back into the end game. It was a much-needed confidence boost. Congrats to Brian Breech who finished second, but was awarded the win due to some questionable riding in the sprint.
Afterwards, I had a chance to catch up a little with the Brooklyn crew, which is always a good thing. Nice to see everyone!
This weekend also saw my new Champion System Bike finally assembled. I'm still getting the fit dialed, but it is a sweet ride! Look for photos a "review" in the next few days.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
I really prefer not to read, write, or even think about doping in cycling, but with today's headlines, there's really no avoiding it.
As readers may know, I was in Paris to watch the finale of the Tour de France in 2006. In the years since Floyd Landis was briefly the race's champio, he has pawned his innocence to members of the extended cycling family, who gave him donations to fund a lengthy and costly, defense against the doping charges, but was ultimately convicted of using testosterone en route to that victory. then he and served a two-year ban.
He returned last year, riding (mostly as a no-show, at least in bigger races) with OUCH-Maxxis, then left his contract with that team early in an attempt a return to the Pro Tour level. Apparently there were no takers, as he wound up with the Bahati Foundation Cycling Team. He raced to second-place at April's Tour of the Battenkill (incidentally, I took a little heat for calling Landis "aloof" in that essay), here in Washington County, and then seemed surprised when his team did not receive an invitation to race the Tour of California.
Maybe he should have been surprised -- he did have a decent showing at the race's 2009 iteration, finishing 23rd on GC. Besides that, he did win the inaugural race -- in the same year he "won" the Tour de France. But, the race is full of the U.S. and Canada's best teams, along with a bunch of Pro Tour outfits, so his first-year, unproven, team was an unlikely choice for ToC organizers AEG sports.
So, to me, this whole "admission" is little more than sour grapes. I'm not one to defend Armstrong -- and my guess is that he, and many other Pro Tour riders do dope to a certain extent, or, at least they did in the years leading up to 2006, but Landis isn't doing anything to clean up the sport with his late 180-degree "change of heart."
As I read on one online forum: "Despite what Lance may have done, Floyd is still a dick." To put it another way: Was he lying then, or is he lying now?
There's nothing altruistic about throwing others under the bus. Or, maybe there is -- if you don't stand to profit from it. But with his post-2006 career going nowhere fast, Landis clearly needs to do something to keep himself in the headlines, and this looks like little else to me.
Maybe he thought we forgot about his book -- which now appears to contain nothing but lies -- in hopes that we'll line up to buy the second (forthcoming) work.
I don't have any right or place to comment on possible legal ramifications, being that he has made statements contrary to the allegations he is now making under oath, but I can comment, as a person whose watched and written about pro cycling for the past several years -- this whole thing feels slimy.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
While I'm doing my best to keep up at Bear Mountain, there are a couple of fairly important stage races going on. Namely, the Giro d'Italia and the Tour of California.
I don't write about it too often on this blog -- as I like to keep this space pure and limited only to my kvetching about my own racing -- but I am almost as interested in the sport as a fan as I am as an athlete.
As such, I'm doing my best to follow both races, primarily via Velo News. However, I've been finding myself confusing the various happenings at each event, and have had to decide which of the races I'm going to follow in detail. Trying to track both events has begun to feel a little like reading two Dan Brown books at the same time -- it's easy enough to follow along, because the formulaic plots are similar -- but then you can't remember which character, plot twist, or event, belongs in which story line.
Ultimately, I had to give the edge to the Tour of California, for the very simple reason that it's on TV and I can watch it live during the first couple hours I'm at work -- before the "real" sports come on. So, that's all well and good, except when the riders fail to consider the TV schedule in their racing.
Such was the case during today's stage -- a 113-mile trek from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. With a little less than 30 miles to race, Dave Zabriskie, Mick Rogers and Levi Leipheimer broke away over the Trinity Grade, and then launched into a thrilling TTT effort with a hair over a minute lead to the peloton.
Did the three make it to the line?
I wouldn't know, as Versus cut away to NHL hockey, and the live feed available on the race's website went down as millions of viewer simultaneously tried to tune in. Apparently the threesome needed to ride a bit faster to finish safely within the 2-hour slot afforded to the race by the network.
Incidentally, I had to run out of the office at that point anyway, but had I been able to stay at my desk, I would have resorted to the text updates available from Velo News -- and would almost have been able experience the thrill of DZ's "sprint" for the stage win and yellow jersey. Cool stuff.
I've put sprint in quotation marks because while Leipheimer, DZ, and Rogers are all nearly unbeatable in a time trial, none is known for his prowess in a sprint. I didn't see it on TV, as noted above, but I'd be willing to bet the sprint for the stage win in Santa Cruz was slightly less impressive than it would have been, had the peloton caught the three speeding leaders.
On an unrelated, but happy, note, after a trip to Cross Gates this afternoon -- with some unexpected but very pleasant company -- my computer is now back to it's old, chipper self -- complete with spacebar and shift keys. I think we're all happy about that!
Monday, May 17, 2010
First off -- I'd like to apologize for the declining number of posts around here. There's a good reason for it. As reported last week, some of my computer's problems were repaired -- and other problems were added. What started as a problem with the 'shift' and 'r' key has now spread to 'n' 'u' and 'space bar' -- all of which means that while the computer is still usable, it's a real pain in the ass to type anything.
I'm going back to the Apple Store tomorrow, in hopes having the computer fixed once and for all, at which time I'll be able to get back to blogging (and paying my bills, replying to email, etc).
So, I've got a few minutes to kill at the office, and I thought it was high time I got my blogging shit together.
Sunday was the Bear Mountain Spring Classic. Although I've had an up and down relationship with this race (crashing badly in 2008, earning a podium finish in 2009), it remains one of my favorite events for a combination of reasons: it's close to Brooklyn, Dad and I used to go hiking and cross country skiing around the area in my youth, it's really pretty, it's a big event and feels like it, and the racing is good.
Although the course was changed this year to eliminate the Tiorati Lake climb -- which is well-suited to my style of climbing -- the modified parcourse was just as much fun, and the field lived up to expectations as well. Several pro teams (Kelly Benefit Strategies, Team Type 1, Jamis-Sutter Home, Trek Livestrong) were represented -- albeit by the riders who didn't make the Tour of California cut. And of course, all the strong regional teams were present.
Well worth the 2.5 hour drive from Saratoga. On Sunday, I drove down with Nathaniel, meeting him in Albany at the ungodly hour of 6:40. Doing the math backward, you'll realize that I left Saratoga at 6, after a 5 a.m. wake up.
I did better with my preparations for Bear, I think, and felt reasonably good going into the race. Unfortunately, things didn't go all the well for me. I started toward the back, and although I was able to move up efficiently on the first half lap, I gave up some position going over a steep roller at 5k to the finish.
The key to bear is the 180-degree turnaround at the bottom of Lake Welch Drive, and I was in OK -- but not ideal -- position going into the 50+ MPH downhill. Then I got bumped onto the grassy shoulder and gave still more ground. Long story short I wasn't last going into the 180, but I was close. Keep in mind that we're about 20 miles into an 80-mile race at this point.
So, I started the long, steady climb at the back. Given the circumstance, I did OK. I passed a lot of people and almost made contact with the back of the main group. But almost isn't good enough, and I was gapped going over the top.
I wound up chasing with a group of others who hadn't quite had it on the climb, and I thought we were going to get back in when we'd nearly caught the peloton at the roundabout at Lake Tiorati, but then some non-race traffic got in between us and the peloton, didn't know what to do, hit the brakes, and interrupted our efforts to chase. Now in the headwind, that was pretty much the end of my day.
As you can see in the results, I did suffer my way to the finish with a group of other unfortunates, but it was not what you'd call a successful day on the bike. Next week will be better. At least it was a gorgeous day.
There was a bad crash early in the race that left one racer with his bell pretty badly wrung. It was the kind of crash that I heard behind me, and thought "I'm not going to look back because I don't want to know." No word yet on how he's doing. Nathaniel went down in the same crash, and although he was mostly OK, it left him as a DNF, giving us both plenty to gripe about on the way home.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I'll be racing at Bear Mountain on Sunday (and why does my race have to start so damn early in the morning?!), but any cyclist in the region who isn't racing should be at High Rock Park for the 6th Annual Ride for Research, to benefit Team Billy, a Saratoga-based not for profit that raises funds for research on brain cancer and support for patients living with the disease.
If anyone wants to travel to Saratoga a day early (and, who wouldn't?), you can sign up for a tour of the Serotta Competition Cycles factory on Saturday. If you're really lucky, I'll sign you in at registration...
See below for details, and have fun on the ride!
-- If you haven't already signed up for the ride on May 16, please do so now via teambilly.org (The entry fee is only $25, and all proceeds go to a good cause - brain tumor research. For those who want more of a training ride pace, btw, I strongly suggest you sign up for the 50 knowing that event organizer Ken Grey never fails to whip up the pace through the Battlefield!)
_______________________Please forward the following announcement to others you think might be interested in this event!Dear All,The League of American Bicyclists and the organizers of the Sixth Annual Team Billy Ride and Walk for Research have teamed up with Serotta Competition Cycles to present a unique opportunity for a cycling getaway - suitable for serious cyclist or the whole family - in beautiful Saratoga Springs, New York, over the weekend of May 15 and 16, 2010.Ride a great route for a great cause...On May 16, The Team Billy Ride and Walk for Research will offer the choice of one of three organized and supported rides of 50, 25 and 10 miles, or a three mile walk.The rides are on the lightly trafficked, highly scenic roads of Saratoga County, some of the country's best riding, with the 50 mile ride including a 10 mile stretch that winds through the Saratoga National Historic Park, site of the crucial American victory in the Revolutionary War. The walk is focused on the town's historic district, and provides an excellent option for a non-cycling friend or family member. All of the money raised from the event goes to brain tumor research via the National Brain Tumor Society. Please note that the three rides combined are limited to a total of 1000 participants, so register now!Arrive a day early and see how some of the best bikes are built...On May 15, famed frame builder Ben Serotta of Serotta Competition Cycles (www.serotta.com) will open the doors to his facility, offering factory tours and fitting demonstrations, as well as free bicycle checks from some of the world’s best bicycle mechanics to those who will be participating in the Team Billy event.Between 10AM and 3PM, come pick up your Team Billy registration packet, meet Ben and his team, and see why Serottas have been the premier ride of choice for recreational and serious riders like you to Olympians and leading pros, receiving awards aplenty, including the prestigious Editor's Choice Dream Bike from Bicycling. Learn about the Serotta Fit System, which has become the industry standard to enhance rider comfort and power. And participate in informal rides that will be leaving from the Serotta factory throughout the day. Please note that the factory tours are limited to the first 225 participants, and require advance registration via the link at www.teambilly.org. The fit demonstrations, bike checks and informal rides do not require advance registration.Last, but definitely not least, note that the top fundraiser for this event will be awarded a Serotta Colorado customized, yes, a customized frame and fork valued at $2795! And the next two top fundraisers will be awarded Serotta custom fits valued at $375 each!*And take advantage of special offers from cyclist-friendly hotels...Special rates for participants have been arranged at three local hotels, all of which are within a five minute ride of the event start:Saratoga Hilton $139 per night (Usually $219) Call 518-693-1000 and ask for the group block for "Team Billy"
Courtyard by Marriott $149 per night (Usually $209) Call 866-210-9325, ask for "Team Billy"Residence Inn $159 per night for a studio with kitchenette (Usually $219) Call 800-331-3131, ask for "Team Billy"To register for the Team Billy Ride for Research and the factory tour at Serotta, or to make a donation for brain tumor research, please follow the links at www.teambilly.orgFor more information, you may also email the event organizer, Ken Grey at firstname.lastname@example.org.We hope to see you in Saratoga!*Eligibility for the awarding of the frame and fork is contingent on raising a minimum of $6000, and eligibility for the awarding of the custom fits is contingent upon raising a minimum of $1500. The winner of the frame and fork may upgrade to another Serotta frame and fork at an additional charge.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I (briefly) led Steve Fransisco
His wife snapped this shot of us
The hits continue to roll here at GBBM. After a relatively smooth night at work, I'm getting ready to wrap things up and head home, where I will continue to enjoy a disconnected (mostly) existence, while my computer is in the shop.
For those of you out there in the world who do have computers, you should surf on over to Embrocation Cycling Journal, where my latest essay has been published. This one offers a little explanation for the drive to promote bike races.
Here's an excerpt: "... I’ve been focused on one event that will stay in my mind after this year’s crit for years to come: when a friend and I were taking down police barricades at the end of the day, a little kid from the neighborhood where the race was held came up to us on his bike and asked if we would hold the race again next year.
“I sure hope so!” I replied.
It seems Mom and Dad had forgot to wake him up from a nap in time for the kid’s race and he was really sad to have missed it. “I definitely want to race next year!” he said. Priceless."
It seems that a scheduling conflict with the Cambridge Hotel is the reason for the cancellation. I do think it's too bad, though.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Well, it's official: my computer has shit the bed. Tonight's post is coming to you only because of the generosity of a certain special person who lent me her computer. So thanks to you!
Meanwhile, my laptop, which has toiled tirelessly by my side for the past 3.5 years, is on its way to some undisclosed Apple repair facility where it will hopefully be returned to working order, and then returned to me (less all of my data and program files, of course). Fortunately, I was able to back up most of my stuff while my computer was on its last legs.
My software, however, is gone, I fear. Of course, maybe my hard drive will come back intact -- there's really no way of knowing, I suppose. I'll let you know in 5-7 business days. In the meantime, I will blog as I am able to do so -- borrowing equipment, blogging after hours at the office, etc... Please be understanding if I miss the occasional post as a result of this connectivity issue I'm having.
Anyway, on to more important matters: It continue to be really wind and unseasonably cool here in the Capital District. I about froze my hands off while on a 90-minute recovery ride today, all the while thinking: I would be really psyched with this weather: in February!
It's May for Pete's sake. So, hopefully the weather will warm up soon. On a somewhat-related note, at least insofar as it's about cycling, the last of the parts needed to complete my new bike are supposed to arrive tomorrow. If it happens (and I'm not holding my breath at this point) look for bike porn on my twitter feed.
In other news, I drove down to Albany this morning during the heart of rush hour. Let's just say it's not an experience I'd want to repeat any time soon. I had some business to attend to first thing, which put me in the car, headed for the Northway at 7:20 this morning. As a journalist who starts the work day later than most, and who has always lived within walking of riding distance from work, I can honestly say that I had no idea that Saratoga has rush hour traffic.
Now, we're not talking BQE outbound at 5 p.m. on Memorial Day weekend or anything, but a ride across town that would ordinarily take about three minutes in a car took me a good 15-20 this morning. This had the dual effect of putting me in a foul mood and making me late to meet my secret accomplice, with whom I was caravaning down south.
So that was a rude surprise. So to was the traffic around exit 9. I've heard of this traffic -- congestion that seems to start for no reason, and abates just as mysteriously around the Twin Bridges -- but I've never before had to sit in it.
I'm just going to say: I'm so glad to live five minutes walking from work. That's all for tonight: I've got a pile of clean bibs to fold and put away. Hopefully, I'll see you tomorrow.
Sunday, May 09, 2010
I'm sorry for the decidedly intermittent blogging this past week. Unfortunately, such staid efforts are likely to continue, as my computer, a 2006-vintage MacBook, is doing a charming thing where it turns itself off any time it's moved, and demands to be shut down and restarted at odd intervals.
Clearly, I'm a bit concerned about this, as I have blogging to do, a deadline for Embrocation, and lots of other thing to accomplish, all of which will require my computer. I'll be at the Apple Store in Cross Gates first thing tomorrow, where I will hopefully receive an optimistic diagnosis. I guess I've used my computer fairly hard over the past few years, but I don't think it's time for a new one yet! (Also, there isn't exactly a lot of piggy bank at the moment...) So, please bear with me as I continue to struggle with technology.
Anyway, on to the important stuff:
No racing for me this weekend, as I was needed at work Saturday, and wasn't able to race Sterling. Just as well, looks like that race was a fairly rainy affair. While I did manage to stay dry on my weekend rides (mostly), I did not stay warm. That's because we seem to be in the midst of a weather system that I'd kill for -- in February.
In May (yes, it is May), I'd expect it to be at least 20 degree warmer than the 38 I woke up to at 7 this morning, when I scooted over to the Hathorn Spring to meet Steve, Mark and Masi Mike.
While we'd all got the memo on the weather, and had come attired in full-on winter garb, the itinerary was a little less certain. We wound up heading north and east, toward Durkeetown , and then further east to Cossayuna Lake.
Although it never really warmed up, it was a great ride through some of Washington County's rolling farm land. In Greenwich, the band broke up, with Mark (suffering a mechanical) and Mike headed for home. Steve and I rode on for another two hours, climbing Willard Mountain, and then looping through the Battlefield on the way home for a total of six hours, 20 minutes. Is that enough, Scott?
Needless to say, I was pretty hungry when I got home.
While I regularly complete long rides on the order of five or six hours, it was Steve's longest ride for the year, and hats off to him, for sticking with me, even in the later hours. It must be the magical powers of that shiny new K. Bedford Customs road bike. I hear that things rides like a magic carpet on bumpy roads, like a fighter jet on descents, and like a drag racers in town line springs. Plus, it looks pretty good.
That ride along would have been a great way to spend a Sunday. Unfortunately, I also had to go to work, pick up some stuff for the apartment at Target, get groceries, and deal with a sick computer. Sweet.
With that, good night.
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
I did get the bed made on the first night
Although, not a whole lot has happened since
So, one of the main things I needed to accomplish during my blogcation last week, was moving from Caroline Street to Franklin Street.
I'm happy to say that while I didn't sleep very much, I did successfully move. Thanks, in large part, to stand-up guys and girl Jamie, Steve, Pete, Mike and Aleks, who helped me caravan everything over to the new place on Saturday.
I have, at this point, managed to get rid of most of the boxes
Which was a major step in the right direction
These photos were taken in the immediate aftermath of the move, when everything had been unceremoniously dumped into the new apartment, but nothing had been unpacked. It's improved a little since then, but is most definitely a work in progress. I've got some free time scheduled in the next couple days, and am hoping that by the end of the weekend I'll have a sparkling apartment to show off.
I haven't met too many of my neighbors yet, but it seems to be a quiet building, the shower head is higher than my head, and the staircase leading to my apartment doesn't require me to contort myself to get my bikes out the front door -- all good things. Also, I'm looking forward to doing laundry in the near future -- without driving to the laundromat. Imagine that!
The love seat is now right-side-up
Other than, not much progress in this room
My commute is now a little longer than it had been, so I get to ride my fixxie to and from work now, which is a lot more fun than walking. So, things are good over at the new pad. I'll post some photos once I get everything organized and put away. In the mean time, though, my regards to Caroline Street!
Monday, May 03, 2010
OK, I know I'm supposed to be making my big return from blogcation tonight, but I'm still up to my eyeballs in boxes, bags, bicycles, and futon cushions, so forgive my brevity.
Plus, Spa:Crit was yesterday, and in addition to unpacking, I'm neck-deep in fallout from the race (mostly positive, but still time consuming). So, no real post tonight.
Instead, spend some time perusing these excellent shots from the race, then check out the edited versions here. There was also some great coverage of the race in The Saratogian, courtesy of city reporter Patrick Donges and ace photog Erica Miller.
In summation, we had about 240 racers show up for the Marshall & Sterling Spa Crit on Sunday -- a 150-percent increase from 2009. Notably, the women's race had about 25 participants, and the elite men had about 50 (up from 12 registered in 2009). Every race, from 1-lap the kid's crit to the cat 5 race and the elite races were fiercely contested, and everyone from the spectators to the participants and volunteers had a great day.
Of course, there were a few unhappy neighbors, and I hope that I will hear from these individuals so that we can better address their needs for the 2011 event, when we once again hope to be guests on the West Side.
I started promoting bike races because I spend a lot of time traveling to, and participating in, races. At every one of those events, there are tons of volunteers who spend lots of time to produce fun, enjoyable events. I want people from both within and without the cycling community to enjoy Saratoga Springs. Spa:crit is a way to show off our town, while bringing something different to the city residents. It was great to see some residents, many of whom looked like they'd never before seen a bike race, sitting out spectating.
From within the cycling community, it was great to see the number of non-racers (not-yet-racers?) who registered for the cat 5 category, and had a great time in their first race. Hopefully, the first of many! Similarly, it was great to see some serious contenders who can line up and race competitively at almost any race in the country choose to come here and race in Saratoga.
Thanks to all of the racers, athletes, and, especially the volunteers, who make the second year of the Saratoga Spa Crit a success.
There were lots of fun and memorable moments on Sunday, but the best one was when John and I were taking down barriers at the end of the day and a little kid came up to us on his bike and asked if we would hold the race again next year. It seems Mom and Dad had forgot to wake him up from a nap in time for the kid's race and he was really sad to have missed it. "I definitely want to race next year!" he said. Priceless.
P.S. We are finalizing the results, and they will posted in short order.