This morning I completed longer LT intervals for the first time since I started training with a power meter. This added a new and interesting facet to my workout.
Scott had sent me out today with instructions to ride four 10-minute intervals, with a target wattage of x00 (the first digit has been redacted so as not to disclose confidential performance information). A ten-minute interval is long enough and painful enough that by the time you get halfway through it, you've lost sight of the beginning and the end of the interval, you can't remember what road you're on, have snot flowing freely down your race, and you still have to keep an eye on the clock to make sure that you keep the effort going for the prescribed amount of time, but not longer.
This is different from other types of intervals -- it's easy enough to count to six or ten during short efforts, and even a two- or three-minute interval goes by quickly enough that you can judge the passage of time fairly well during it. With the longer intervals, 10 minutes (or 20) can stretch to an eternity, and keeping track of the time really is impossible, I've found.
Today, I added in the challenge of keeping my wattage at or above the prescribed level. Although this should probably not have been as hard as I thought it was, I was getting nervous anytime I hit a descent, and started worrying that Scott was going to be pouring over my power files and yell at me for the few seconds that I dipped below x00. So it goes.
Truth be told, I could easily have kept my wattage up high enough without watching the power meter, but the way I've configured my Garmin Edge 500 doesn't have a screen that displays the time (necessary to see during intervals) and watts (not necessary). Fortunately, I can change that for next time.
The bottom line, though, is that wattage may prove to be a useful tool for training, but keeping an eye on it today during an intense workout proved to be distracting, something I hadn't really considered beforehand.
On the other hand, it was fun to come home after Tuesday's World Championships ride, downloading my data, and finding that I had put more than x,000 watts at a couple moments. Now, if I could only harness my watts into some kind of result!
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
This morning I completed longer LT intervals for the first time since I started training with a power meter. This added a new and interesting facet to my workout.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I've been on hiatus from Embrocation Cycling Journal for nearly two months now, as that publication has been undergoing a bit of an editorial restructuring. It's been a tough break for me, as I really enjoy writing for Embrocation -- I mean, this is the magazine that published two of my favorite pieces of writing, The Racer's Program for Dating, and Not Attractive, so of course I want to write for them!
After talking with the publisher last night, I'm getting ready to step into a new roll with the magazine. Instead of writing about whatever I want, I'll be focusing on three areas: 1) Conducting interviews with interesting folks in and around the world of cycling, 2) Writing and photographing workshops across the industry, and 3) writing tech pieces.
As a writer, I think it's great that Embrocation is getting away from publishing the types of free-form narrative essays that have been its bread and butter -- any of the essays I've written for Embrocation could easily have found a good home here, on GBBM. But, an interview with, say, a legendary frame builder, might seem out of place here but would fit very well with the magazine.
Of course, I'm grateful that the powers-that-be at Embrocation have found a way for me to fit into their restructuring, and I'm looking forward to working on different types of things for them.
So, with this new set of assignments stretching out in front of me like the untracked asphalt of a freshly paved road, I'm excited to roll ahead. But, I feel that I need some reader input. Is there anyone you've noticed and want to know more about -- an athlete who caught your attention, a charismatic sales person at you LBL, or the been everywhere, done everything UCI official?
What about tech? Got an oddball question about an off-size bearing or a new product? Send me your question, and I'll see if I can find you the answer. What if you've got an interesting work space? I'd like to talk to you too.
So, if you've got any thoughts, shoot me an email at bernstein.andrewATgmailDOTcom. Thanks for your suggestions, I look forward to hear from you soon!
Monday, June 28, 2010
Unfortunately, Sergio and I had just been been dropped from the lead group
At least we looked pretty good! -- Thanks to Dave Kraus for the photo
Forgive me for not posting anything last night, I was very busy concocting a a Spanish rice and chorizo dish (the scent of which is still delightfully lingering in my apartment), and thus did not have a chance to write anything here.
Earlier in the day, I completed my third circumnavigation of the Sunday Social Century (so called because Bernstein's death ride was rejected as too foreboding) route along with a rough-and-tumble bunch from the greater Saratoga-area. I heard later that Sunday was one of the hottest days this area has seen so far this year, which explains why I peed brown after completing the 97-mile, 5,700 vertical-feet route that took us well into the hinter lands of Saratoga and Warren counties.
The biggest x-factor on the route is the dirt section of Fox Hill Road, in the town of Greenfield. The last time I did this ride, sometime in April, the road was so dense with stutter bumps that it was nearly unrideable. Upon arriving on Sunday, we found the road to be in much better condition, and what a wonderful discovery that was, as the six of us ripped across the southern reaches of the Adirondack park to Lake Desolation.
It was a little odd to not be racing, as I haven't not raced on a weekend since early May. At the same time, it was nice not to have to worry about packing the car, rushing out of bed, and flying down (or up) the Northway to some far-away locale.
I'll be experiencing a similar, if slightly different feeling this weekend, as I will not be racing the Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic this weekend. This news, when broken to James earlier this evening, elicited a sharp "WTF?"
WTF indeed. After willingly surrendering my ability to race the Green Mountain Stage Race and the Empire State Games because they fall during the Saratoga meet (also known as Bernstein-in-work-hell season), I was really looking forward to putting in a strong showing at the Longsjo. Then came Ben Franklin.
Or, as we call it in the Sports Department, Ben F. Franklin. You can figure out for yourself what Mr. Franklin's new initial might stand for. If you're interested, you can read all about the Ben Franklin Project here, but the short version is this: The Saratogian is participating in a major, time-intensive, company-wide experiment, which culminates with a deadline at 11:15 p.m. on July 3. Fitchburg starts mid-day on July 2, and stretches through the holiday weekend, ending on Monday, July 5. Therefore, I won't be racing. No one ever said the working world wouldn't require sacrifice.
I will admit, though, I have plenty of reasons to skip the race anyway, based on my experience last year. To give myself something to look forward to, I'm going on vacation on July 4th, for almost a whole week. After vacation, I'm getting excited for the Pawling Mountain Road Race on July 11. This is a new race that's risen from the ashes of the Union Vale Road Race. After that, I've got a slate of other one-day road races lined up for the remainder of the season (and possibly the three-day Tour of the Catskills), during which I'm hoping to finally find some kind of form to bring home a result. Here's hoping!
Lately, it's been important to remind myself that I've taken my time to develop at each level of racing along the way, and it's unreasonable to assume that I would develop any faster at this level. But -- while I'm psyched for folks like my super-fast teammate Sean and Wayne Bray, who recently received a well-earned Cat 1 upgrade -- it's hard not to feel jealous that they're moving up so much faster than me.
Keep moving forward.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
My bike is mounted to a computrainer
Fittingly, it was pouring outside
As readers will recall, earlier this month I went to Easthampton, Mass., for a bike fitting with Carl Ditkoff at New England Bicycle Consulting.
The last time I was fit on a bike was in 2005, when I was riding a Douglas Fusion road bike, weighed at least 15 pounds more than I do now, and was proud-as-hell of my cat 4 license. Needless to say, my racing and my body have both changed since then, and with the arrival of my Champion System bike, I thought it was time to have my fit re-evaluated.
Carl uses cutting-edge technology such as Retul motion capture imaging to collect all kinds of data. There were no plumb-bobs or or bubble levels in sight at Carl's airy shop in the EastWorks building. The Retul system works by tracking a series of infrared LED lights that are mounted to your body at important junctions (toe, heel, ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow and wrist). The cameras then track the motion of the LEDs relative to each other, and create a computer model of how your body is moving over the course of a pedal stroke. Incidentally, the LEDs are mounted via adhesive velcro tabs that had me wishing my arms and wrists were shaved, as well as my legs.
It's all magic to me, but the ledger-like series of numbers produced by just a few moments of pedaling was more than enough to have Carl scratching his chin and making sounds like "Hmmm..." and "that's odd," etc...
Here, we're in the schmoozing phase of the fitting
Despite what Lance said once, it is about the bike (at least partially)
The net result of Carl's analysis is that my stem is now a centimeter shorter than it was (down to 110 mm), my saddle is 5mm lower, and my cleats have slid back toward my heal. It all feels about the same since my hip angles didn't change, but according to some folks I race and ride with, I am now noticeably less stretched out on my bike, with a greater degree of bend in my elbows. I notice this all in the form of less strain on my back and neck -- certainly good things!
Carl also found that my feet are somewhat oddly built, with each sloping in the same direction, and both sloping more than they should. This causes my right knee to trace a circle over the course of my pedal stroke. Who knew? The cure is custom footbeds for my shoes, which will hopefully arrive in the next day or so.
Carl looks on in dismay
This is my position pre-fitting
Since the fitting, I've been asked by a few people why I didn't just get a fitting done at Blue Sky Bicycles, where I almost certainly could have had it done for the employee price of beer. The answer is that at this time Blue Sky is sticking to the tried-and-true "plumb-bob" methods of fitting, instead of investing the thousands needed to set up a Retul system. A Serotta-trained fitter is on staff, and I think this "old school" method is just fine for most people (including me), but I was curious about what data Carl might be able to cull with his cutting-edge toys.
Was it worth the two-hour car trip? I think so, but bike fitting seems to be one of those intangibles that are nearly impossible to quantify. Did my threshold power increase by 30 watts after the fitting? I don't know; but if my back and neck are more comfortable when I ride, it's all good, even if the watts stay the same. At the same time, though, give the time and energy I spend training, eating right, and traveling to and from races, it makes sense to me to make sure my bike is set up in the most efficient position possible.
*Thanks to Jeremy Durrin for taking the photos!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
While I was off suffering with the big boys at the Housatonic Hills Road Race, all sorts of racing was happening locally. On Saturday, while I was saving my legs for Sunday, 10 racers from the region were selected for the Empire State Games team. Sounds like a couple of guys from the Capital Region had great rides and were psyched to qualify for the games. The team includes Terry, who gave me the blow-by-blow last night on a ride, and my former teammate Matt.
Unfortunately, I also heard that some of the Placid Planet guys didn't ride all that well, allowing some rider who'd been dropped to catch back to the lead group -- and then took themselves out in the sprint. I guess, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Although, I suppose, the net effect is different, since Placid Planet did qualify four of six riders for the ESG team, as opposed to 2008, when they were blanked in the qualifier. All that's said with the utmost respect for the Placid Planet boys, of course. Rich and Jim are great guys who run a great race, and I'm happy to hear that they're riding well.
But, I'd have been really unhappy if I'd been in the race, and had lost my chance at the games due to getting tangled up in the last quarter-mile, as was the case for Mark Sullivan, a new, but very strong racer from Saratoga (well, Greenfield Center), who raced the qualifier on my suggestion, made the lead group, and would almost certainly finished in the top 10 had he not been hung up. I guess that's why they call it bike racing.
Sunday, was the Lake D Hill Climb. Again, I wasn't there, but from the sound of things, there was a lot of negative racing, everyone sat on Jamie (who's got two lungs full of mucus at the moment), then, when the felt he was weak, attacked him. Times were thusly slow, with the winner finishing in about 18:36 -- about a minute slower (or maybe even more) than Jamie's winning time from 2009. Of course, the Lake D Hill Climb is held twice a year -- in June and October. I've never raced the June version, but after clearly not being mentally or physically present enough to race Housatonic on Sunday, I wish I'd stayed home for the hill climb, if only to help Jamie pull on the flats at the bottom of the climb, with the goal of setting a decent time to the top. Jamie wound up fourth, with big congrats to John for finish second place -- John is nothing if not consistent!
Speaking of Housatonic, having a power meter gives you all sorts of colorful graphs to ponder and pretend to understand. Fortunately for me, I have a coach who actually understands this stuff, and according to him, and supported by power data, I truly had a bad day on Sunday. Guess I didn't really need a power meter to tell me that! He had some number to go with it, but it seems I was no where near producing the wattage I've demonstrated in other races or in training, and still got dropped. Sounds like two hours really isn't enough sleep to race on?
I'll be pondering that too, before my next race in a couple weeks. Now, it's time to watch the end of Benjamin Button.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Well, after last weekend's adventure off the front of the Wilmington Whiteface Road Race I was left with the -- apparently false -- notion that I was getting some of my climbing form back. Remember when I used to be a good climber? I'd really like to get back to that.
All things being equal, today's ride at the Housatonic Hill Road Race was actually OK, when compared to some other races I've done this year. I lined up next to Ted King, hoping some of his magic would rub off on me. The race started with a 2k neutral climb, after which James buried himself to string out the field, before sending himself to an early DNF (he apparently has the flu).
That put me in a good position to start the first two climbs we encountered on the road at the front of the group. All went to plan, and rolled right over the top, even as the peloton was melting like ice in a skillet (it was damn hot and humid today).
But, as much as Housatonic is about climbing, it is also about fast descents, and since I go downhill about as fast as a feather, I found myself bounced to the back as we started the long climb at the start of lap two. I did a reasonable job making up ground, and passing folks, staying in contact with the lead group the whole time, but then King attacked over the top, and was gapped. It wasn't a good situation, and when the wheel van passed me I thought my day was done, but working hard with a few others, I got back into the race.
I sat in for a bit, until we hit a stair-step series of climbs, and King attacked again to bridge up to a smaller group up he road. I made it over the first two climbs, but finally got popped on the last one. It wasn't fun at all, but at least I had lots of company. At that point, there looked to be only about 25 left in the peloton. Also at that point, my team mate Sean Smith was killin' it off the front on his own.
Sean was eventually attacked by King, and a greatly-reduced lead group, but held on for a strong finish. As for me, I dropped out at the feedzone, peeled off soaked spandex, and watched the finish.
All things considered, it could have been worse. I'd have to say, though, that the highlight was the car ride to and from the race with Nathaniel. Unfortunately, he didn't do much better. Also, 4 a.m. is really early to be getting up to go to a race. I hope not to have to do that again any time soon.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
There are lots of options for racing this weekend, and after spending several days hemming and hawing, I've settled on the Housatonic Hills Road Race, down Connecticut-way. I raced this event last year in one of my first Cat 2 outings, and faired OK, finishing mid pack. On the way to that non-noteworthy results, I got fodder for a blog post that would briefly become one of my best-read, even if for somewhat dubious reasons.
But, in deciding to race at Housatonic, I'm taking the pass on the Empire State Games qualifiers, which will be held outside Albany on Saturday. In 2008, qualifying for the games was my top priority for the season, and I was ecstatic when I finished seventh at the qualifying road race. A couple months later, racing the games was an incredible experience that remains one of the highlights of my career thus far. It was something about the community spirit of the team, combined with fun and intense racing that all culminated in a singularly wonderful experience.
Of course, it didn't hurt that the 13-member Adirondack team, of which I was a member, cleaned up at those games, taking a record number of points -- something that's been talked about quite a bit over the past few weeks on local cycling listserves.
In 2009, due to budgetary conditions in the state, the games were not held, much to the dismay of everyone involved.
But this year, despite continuing budgetary problems in the state, the games are back on. Although athletes participating will still receive the game's signature sweat suit (you know what's funny? A 155-pound cyclist and 155-pound golden glove boxer both get the same "medium" suit!), but the games are no longer free -- now they cost $50 for four days or racing, and housing, and food. You'll never find a better deal.
Because the games, to be held in Buffalo this year, conflict with opening weekend at the Saratoga Race Course, and because my job includes some responsibility to cover the race track (just kidding, it's a lot of responsibility), I won't be able to race this year. I'm pretty bummed about it, as I would love to go, but instead I'll leave it to the Capital District's other fine athletes to represent us in Buffalo.
Registration for the qualifier closes tomorrow, an I highly encourage anyone reading to go and race (click on the above link). If you qualify, you're in for a real treat. And if you don't qualify, the qualifying road race only costs $12 -- and that's a pretty good deal too.
Go to the games, you won't regret it. I'll be back after Housatonic (which is my consolation prize, for not racing the qualifier) -- if I'm still standing.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
If you haven't yet seen this video, take a seat, hold onto something, and press play. This was Tuesday's Stage four at the Tour de Suisse.
Ouch. That's why I'm always the guy surfing the back of the peloton when it comes time for a field sprint.
More remarkable than the video is this photo:
Yes, Cav's wheel is in the process of folding like a taco as Heinrich Haussler rolls over it. BUT, as you saw in the video, the wheel somehow rebounded to (approximately, I would assume) it's normal shape. Can someone please explain to me how that happens? I was under the impression that a carbon wheel would simply shatter under forces like that.
Anyway, I have no plans to try that with my Zipp wheels any time soon.
Incidentally, Cav was relegated on the stage for sprinting into Haussler -- guess no one mentioned that the object is to go toward the finish line, not sideways into the barriers. This isn't a demolition derby!
On another Cav-related note, I've been reading an excerpt from his book in the latest Velo News. If the excerpt is any indication, it's best to leave this one on the bookstore shelf. Mostly, I think Cav fails to realize that before you can write a memoir, you need some perspective on your life. The guy is only 25, for F's sake.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Next time, I hope to make it to the line out front.
Maximum wattage today: 1,196 -- achieved while digging really deep to get out of bed this morning.
Average wattage: -4,000
It was one of those days. I was tired all day, a combination of still recovering from a big effort (and late night) on Saturday, and having to get up early this morning to work at the bike shop, where I continue to reign as stock boy-in-chief. Also, this cool, gray weather we're having here in upstate New York is not doing anything to help my mood. Isn't summer scheduled to start next week?!
It had better be, as the super-secret, invitation-only summer solstice century is scheduled to roll off on Monday, but we'll have to cancel is temps dip below 80.
The one bright spot from today was wrapping up work on the early side, and making it home just a shade before 11 -- the earliest I've left work on a night where I'm on the desk (most nights) in quite some time. What a nice treat.
On an even brighter note, it appears that my extra-curricular writing will be changing in the coming weeks. Regular readers have doubtless noticed that I've been on a bit of a hiatus from Embrocation Cycling Journal, to which I am a contributor. The reason for said hiatus is that the magazine is undergoing a bit of a restructuring, and is doing away with the types of narrative essays that I've been writing since I penned my Racer's Guide to Dating -- which I think is one of the better things I've ever written, even if I've since had to explain to my Romantic Accomplice that I'm not really that cynical or conniving, and that I am still capable of enjoying a (n occasional) drink, during the racing season.
Instead, I'll be focusing more on conducting and writing interviews with notables from the cycling industry. I'm excited for this new project, and looking forward to getting started in the near future. Stay tuned for further details. Of course, you can still get your self-centered, narrative fix here at GBBM.
Back to gloominess:
Since I was so tired today, and since my official training schedule had me marked down for a super easy ride "or off," I decided to take it easy, and instead of riding did some things around the house: namely sweeping my gross floors, and paying some bills.
Also, I sent my Mom a birthday card, because she's turning _2 tomorrow. I can't believe it's her birthday again -- seems like just yesterday she turned _1! Happy birthday Mom, sorry I can't be with you celebrate this year! Incidentally, it must be the season. Brett's birthday is also tomorrow, as well as one of my clerks, and another member of the sports crew has his on Thursday. Happy Birthday to everyone!
Since I left work early tonight, I'm hoping that will translate into an early bed time, so that I'll be nice and rested when I have to get back to real (on the bike) work tomorrow. On that note, I've got a few more domestic duties to attend to -- namely washing a pile of dishes and folding laundry. Does it ever end? At least I don't have kids. I hear they really get in the way of racing, riding, and other life ambitions.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
A moderately-sized field showed up on Saturday morning to contest the New York State Road Race Championships in Wilmington. To cut to the chase, I leaped out of the field about two miles into the race to join a breakaway, thinking it would be a chance to warm up, and that we'd be safely back in the field in a matter of moment.
Well, I did eventually wind up back in the field, but not before riding 84 miles off the front with said breakaway. We were caught as we rode by the 1.5 k-to-go banner, heartbreakingly close to the line. I believe that warrants one giant "FML."
Why did I risk such a long break with such slim odds? Well, in the first 100-yards of the race, I watched Wheelhouse Racing's Matt Mainer nearly start an international incident by colliding with a French Canadian. Fortunately, both remained upright. Mainer then complained to me that I hadn't written about riding off the back with him at Bear Mountain.
I stopped listening pretty much immediately, but he kept talking, telling me some far-fetched story about having sex in his friend's bathroom at a Halloween party. I really tuned out when he said "Darth Maul costume," but I'm pretty sure I heard him say something about crabs after that.
Pubic lice was about five clicks past "sickening," on the scale of things I'd like to hear about during a bike race, so I put in a 510-watt (yes, I am now using a power meter, and will be rating everything I do -- from cycling to laundry in watts) effort to bridge to the breakaway. I got there in short order, and we rolled -- for 84 miles.
Ostensibly, there were five people in the break -- myself, Mainer's Team mate Eric Tremble (who probably also wanted to get away from Mr. TooMuchInfo), and three Quebecois. The Wilmington-Whiteface course is lollipop-shaped, in that you start at the bottom of the stick, ride to the candy part, do a bunch of laps around that part (five, I think), then ride back down the stick, and up part of Whiteface mountain. Everyone was working on the first lap, but one of the Quebecois (who had "license to kill" written on his helmet ((in English))) stopped working after that one lap, and proceeded to sit on until well after the fat lady had already sung. I'm not sure exactly what the strategy was there.
Anyway, it was a long time to be out front. As we ended the second-to-last lap, our gap had come down from a maximum of 3 minutes, 30 seconds to about two minutes, and we were going really slow. Thinking that my legs were better than they turned out to be, I took off on the mile-long feedzone climb, thinking I could solo the remaining 18-miles. It worked for a while, as I quickly got 30 seconds. But the other four must have decided to chase me, as I was caught about half-way through the lap. In retrospect, I burned a lot of matches on that move -- matches could have been better used later on.
On our last trip up that climb, one rider, from the Nativo Concept team (who had a team mate in the break), bridged up to us, worked with us to the top of the climb then realized how torched we all were, and promptly rode away. I watched him go, thinking "I really should try to stay with him -- but... I can't."
We exited the circuits with a 1:30 lead to the peloton, and hit the base of the final climb with a gap close to 45 seconds. I gave it everything I had -- trying to imagine that I was on Lake D, holding off some of my normal riding partners, but sheer force of will was not enough to get it done.
I was swarmed from behind right at the 1 K-to go sign, and then had to use every ounce of strength I had remaining to crawl to the finish line.
I guess it's like Rummy: I tried to shoot the moon and came up a little short.
On Sunday, I went out with Steve, Mark, and Steve, who were planning on a century. I figured I was good for half that. In total, I rode 40 today, and took almost three hours to do it. Think I was tired?
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Just moments ago, I removed the Tufo S33, which went flat during Sunday's stage 3 of the CT Stage Race, from my race wheel. In doing so, I likely ruined the previously-repairable tire by pulling backing tape off of the tire casing.
So that's just wonderful. I guess I'll be going back to a Continental tire for Saturday's race. That's a prime example of why I wouldn't be allowed to play mechanic, and should leave the wrenching to those who do it best. While out doing intervals in Greenfield today (in the rain), I was thinking how remarkable it is that I actually managed to assemble most of my new bike on my own -- with only a few pointers and wrench-turns by Keith, Dave, Aaron, and Billy over at the shop.
The bike hasn't fallen apart yet, so that's good.
Of course, it could still be better, as I don't yet feel 100-percent comfortable on it. Especially in regard to my center of gravity, which is noticeably higher on the larger frame (59, vs. 58 for my old Scott), and therefore feels slower going through turns.
To hopefully make things feel more comfortable, more efficient, and faster in general, I'm driving over to Western Mass. tomorrow for a fitting with Carl Ditkoff at New England Bicycle Consulting. In addition to being a stand up guy who supports my friends on the Wheelhouse Racing Team, Carl is a fit expert, and promises to make me faster. Here's hoping!
I was last fit in 2005, as a cat 4 collegiate racer with a shiny new Douglas. Even as my legs have gotten more powerful and more adept at spinning circles, and my hips and back have gotten stronger and more flexible during the ensuing years, I've more-or-less retained the same position established way back then.
With a new bike, I figured it was about time to have my fit re-evaluated. You see, a racing bike is a little like a running shoe, in that the proper fit will enhance the running experience and help you go faster, while a poor fit will lead to pain, suffering, and slow, plodding runs.
Initially, I was going to see a local fit guru at certain manufacturer of custom bikes, but the price was astronomical. Carl offers the same service (albeit, without lofty claims of having fit as many active pros) for a fraction of the price. So, it's worth the two-hour drive. I'll be reporting fully on the experience in the near future, complete with photos of the process (assuming Carl lets me take photos tomorrow!)
While I'm out Northampton way (the shop is in Easthampton), I'm going to get to have lunch with Amanda, my high school buddy, who turned 25 on Monday. Nothing like a mini road trip mid-week, and back to work in time to put the paper out for Friday!
Monday, June 07, 2010
I would kill for a garage
This tree's fruit is worth about twice as much as my car
As I sit here on my plaid love seat, I find myself thinking that while I've done a pretty good job of settling into my new apartment (incidentally, I wonder how long I'll keep thinking of this as my "new" apartment), but there's still a lot of work to be done.
I've still got boxes of odds and ends scattered around, and lots of extraneous lamps.
the most interesting feature of my new apartment is my bike tree. OK -- bikes do not grow on trees, but they can be stored on trees, such as the one in my living room.
A key consideration in picking my new home was finding a place that could accommodate my growing stable of bicycles. The 106 had a capacious -- and sparsely furnished -- living room, but space was a bit more of a premium at most of the 1-bedrooms I looked at. Hence my purchase of the bike tree. In roughly the floor space that would be occupied by two bikes leaning against each other, I can store all four of my race bikes. (Yes, four: TT bike, 'cross bike, and two road bikes. I could get rid of one of the road bikes, but that makes me nervous since I don't actually own the Champion System.)
So, that's nice. Of course, the pile of wheels still needs to be addressed, as do some boxes of parts, tools, and other odds and ends.
This is all a roundabout way of saying that I've got a lot of bikes and bike crap in my apartment. But there are times, such as now, when I don't really feel a need to look at it all. After all, I spent the weekend up to my eyeballs in bikes. I worked at the bike shop this morning. I rode my bike to recover from the weekend, and now I'm mentally preparing myself for some gut-busting intervals tomorrow.
I really don't need any more bikes in my life, and sometimes I think I could do with a little less. So, maybe I should put up a curtain that I could use to section off the bicycle part of the living room for those times like tonight, when I don't need any more bikes on brain. Or, I suppose, I could just go sit in the kitchen.
Sunday, June 06, 2010
I'm fresh off of a weekend trip to my first stage race of the 2010 season, the Connecticut Stage Race, in Northwestern Conn. and the Berkshire Mountains.
Let me preface this post by saying that as a working stiff with a 9 to 5 (well, a 3-12, really), I have a TREMENDOUS appreciation for stage races that fit neatly into the 60-odd hours between the end of work on Friday and the beginning of work on Monday.
The reason being, of course, that stage races are a lot of fun, and while it's relatively easy to take Saturday and Sunday off, stringing together additional days can sometimes be a challenge. So, I appreciate promoters who provide such opportunities.
Let me also add that while today's stage three road race turned into a giant fustercluck for a variety of reason on which I will expound in a moment, and for which this race will likely receive a bad reputation, the racing this weekend was good, and, for the most part, I had a good time.
Without further ado, here are some observations, which any bicycle race promoter should note:
1) Bicycle races sometimes occur in inclement weather. Such was the case today, as we raced through drizzle that eventually turned into a driving downpour (although, only briefly.) The racers understand this and come duly prepared. The officials also understand this, and are ready to stand out in the cold, in the rain, in the mosquitoes or whatever, until the job is done. Therefore, (and not to take anything away from their selfless generosity), the volunteer marshals also need to be ready to stand out in the rain.
As a result of road marshals heading for cover when the skies opened today, many people on the road (basically, anyone not within site of a caravan vehicle -- which is to say, most people) was left on his or her own to divine the course. After dropping my chain and consequently getting dropped somewhere in the neighborhood of mile 70, and then getting a flat and consequently getting dropped from the group I was riding with, I ripped down a descent on my own, and arrived at a T-shaped intersection.
There was an empty chair and a cone, but no indication of which way I was supposed to go. After thinking about it for a minute, I picked a direction and started to head off toward the finish when a master rider who'd dropped out of his race stopped me, informed me that I was heading in the wrong direction, and sent me on my way. Thanks to him!
Not only did I get back to my car to before the rest of the group I'd been riding with pre-flat, but I got back long before the remainder of the much-reduced peloton, which road an extra 12 (or thereabout) miles into Massachusetts. Upon careful review of the map, I'm pretty sure that I was well off of the actual road race course at this point -- a situation caused by -- you guess it -- a lack of marshals up to that point.
Of course, shortly after I got back to the car, the sun came out.
2) Rain+metal grate bridge+bicycle tires=ice rink.
I understand that we all partake in this sport at our own peril, and I've never been one to complain about a course being too dangerous, but I thought the advice of the promoter on the start line that we were good to race "full speed" across the metal-grate bridges on the course laughable. If it were my race, I would have said something like, "that bridge is really dangerous, please use extreme caution."
That probably wouldn't have changed the outcome of what happened when GC leader Cameron Cogburn (CCB) crashed on said metal grate bridge and sparked race-changing carnage, but at least the promoter would have looked a little less silly. Fortunately for me, I was off the back by the time we hit that bridge, and thus avoided a painful encounter with the ground. I hope everyone who went down is OK.
3) When the promoter fails you, you can always count on your fellow athletes. When I flatted my rear Zipp wheel, on a little decent sometime after the second feed zone, there were no support vehicle in site, and I was feeling pretty-well f*cked. I started walking in the direction I'd been riding, and before too long, two cars loaded with riders opting not to finish came upon me. Both cars were packed to the gills with sodden races, bikes, and equipment, but a couple of CCNS guys loaned me a wheel, and I was able to ride home. Thanks so much, guys!
So, that was... fun?
Eh. There are worse ways to spend a day than riding your bike -- even if it is raining. It'll be interesting to see how they manage to score the race. The chief ref, whose name I don't know, was patiently fielding complaints from dozens of disappointed/pissed off folks after the race. Now there's a job I'd never want!
In other news, teammate Sean Smith, who is currently on a crazy tear, having upgraded from 5 to 2 so far this season, arranged for most of us to stay with his folks in Litchfield County. Thanks so much to the Smiths!
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Lots of flats tonight on the World Championship ride.
Four in all. Awesome ride, though. I now owe tubes and CO2s all over town. I also believe that makes me the world champion of Tuesday night flats. Wonderful. Thanks to Mike, Matt, Steve, Marc, and Jamie for helping me keep the bike rolling and getting me back to work in time to finish Wednesday's sports section! This was doubly disappointing, as we'd been shredding Thunderdrome up until my second ill-timed deflationary event.
I'm heading to the first stage race of the year this weekend, at the Connecticut Stage Race. As a result, I'll be out on the tt bike tomorrow. If you see me on the road, please don't confuse me with a triathlete.
In other news, I've been on the phone with Alaska for 105 minutes, so I'm going to pass on any kind of a real post tonight. See you tomorrow.