Thursday, August 28, 2008

Is this the change people wanted?

An interested side note to the Democratic Party convention was the arrest of an an ABC news producer who was on the sidewalk by the hotel where Dem senators and donors were going in and out of. Link to story on cbs newsIs this the message the Dems really want to show? 'Vote for us, but don't you dare try to see what we're doing or who we're meeting with? If these charges stand, this sets a VERY DANGEROUS precedent for free press, no matter who they are. If we are not allowed to stand up and say what we believe in, no matter if it is popular, correct or whatever, we may as well take a sharpie and blacken out the first amendment on the Constitution of this country. Wake up, people. Start bitching about things like this when you see them occurring and make sure your "Elected" leaders know you are paying attention to this sort of thing. Many would think 'Well, it wasn't me, so why bother?' At some point, it just might be you and then because you didn't speak up when you could, you could've thrown away the opportunity to speak your mind. This is not something to be taken lightly and these people should be called on it. I don't care if you are a democrat, republican, or even a larouchey, you have a right to be heard. Do NOT throw this away due to apathy, PLEASE. Do not let our society get to the point where we wind up seeing history repeat itself.

Past that little political rant, I had a fun race in the rain in Pittsburgh last night. A break got away and spent most of the race about a half lap up. Since no one was chasing seriously and I was not really there to win anything, I decided to make it a hard night of training. I did 3 massive pulls at the front. The first one closed it a bit, but no one followed thru. The second did the same. So I tried a third time and after getting a bit of a lead-up to my effort from another rider, I chopped the gap in half after a quarter mile pull that topped out about 35mph. I did succeed in stretching out the pack to the point where it was falling apart. Unfortunately, I got behind someone who was having some trouble following the counters after I'd pulled off. Dammit, I was off and gone. So my season ended pretty much how it started there. Doing massive pulls and blowing apart completely. It was good training for the weekend though where I hope to have a couple good races in Ohio.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back in the mountains

Yesterday, I had a really good ride in the mountains of Western PA. I started out from Latrobe, which was the former home of the Rolling Rock brewery (a nasty tasting beer, but I do know why the 33 is on the bottle). I'd gone over the 1st ridge and was starting up the 2nd when I was joined by a riding companion, Laura. It was a good ride and we altered the course a bit and even went over a few roads that I hadn't been on in years and then some new ones which I hadn't been on before. It's nice to have someone to chat with when on rides. She was able to climb the hills fairly well and showed some decent strength on the bike. We road past the Rolling Rock farms which was very scenic. It was also nice since we barely saw a car on the roads. I was also amazed that none buzzed us or had any nasty comments to shout out. Laura, I found out is a relative newcomer to racing and has tried the Oval in Pittsburgh, but as most new riders find out, you can't plow at the front lap after lap. A couple lessons in how to maneuver around the pack and a couple lessons on the hows and whens to do things in a race and she could probably do fairly well there. Hopefully she'll add to the growing number of women in the racing scene in the 'burgh which has grown fairly well this year. After she split off for home, I finished a the ride heading back through the Ligonier area and just caught the early traffic for the Sunday evening concert at the Gazebo downtown. If they have a strings concert there sometime, I might have to stop and catch the show sometime. I wound up with just off a good 70 miles for the day. I haven't had too many long rides like that this year and it felt pretty good, especially after a good day of racing the day before. Another weekend of road racing, 2 of mountain biking and then Cross starts up. I'm getting the bikes ready now. Maybe I can have the body ready for it this year.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Valley City, OH

Valley City, OH, is the Frog Jumping Capital of Ohio. Unfortunately, the race is held a couple weeks after the Frog Jumping festival, but they have their street fair there for the race. The race course reminded me alot of the Western PA Wheelman's ride called the 'one significant hill ride'. This was an absolutely flat ride with the hill being between a couple blocks in Connellsville, PA. The sidewalk there was a staircase and it went for about 100 yards and then back down to the flats. That's pretty much what this race was. I was there by myself for this one again as most of my team is winding their seasons down. There were several teams there as it was the Ohio State championships races. That was going to pick things up or so I thought. Tris Hopkins and another rider from Stark Velo rolled off the front in the first 3 miles and were never heard from again. I couldn't believe it. They just rode off. I was in the back and thinking 'well this isn't my fight, it's their championships.' OOOO, wrong answer, Bob. Common sense was telling me to go with it. Unfortunately, I've made a habit of not listening to the many voices in my head this year. I just wish I had a bag of ass-scratchers to sell to everyone there because that's what we did for the next few laps. It did get a bit fast and towards the end of the 2nd lap, I jumped across to a move and started flogging the riders to work and get the break going. All it took was 2 riders to pull across behind another rider who had just pulled off so they could miss a turn. JEEESSSSUUSSSS, we were not going that fast and between myself and another rider, we were doing the lionshare of the work into the wind. That pretty much killed everything and we got caught since everyone else sat up right after that. After making some comments about certain riders really needing to learn to leave the skirts at home, I'd settled in and waited for the sprint for 3rd these guys wanted to have. A mile out, I'd launched a good attack and figuring no one would be chasing since it would've taken work to catch me, I was flying up the line and then dammit, one of them swung wide over for a turn and blocked me. He didn't do it intentionally. He was just a goof. I just love riders who feel compelled to stay tight in on a turn and only swing wide at the last second so they can make the corner. So, I now was 2nd in line heading into the small high with a long 400 yard stretch to the finish. Well, I was following the one everyone was afraid of in the pack so I didn't worry about it much. We climbed the hill and he put it in the big ring and tried to wind it up. At this point, my mind switched to the scene in 'Better Off Dead' where John Cusack was trying to race a couple oriental guys who spoke like Howard Cosell and right as he tried jumping on the gas, stalled completely. I was right behind that kind of a leadout with 350 yards to go. Well, I was in that great catch22 situation. If I wait, I invite more people to the party. If I go for it now, riders get a great leadout. Damn, I hate having too many people in a sprint party so I went for the long one. 25 meters, 2 riders came by and then 2 more right at the line after I blew to pieces. The one good thing I brought away from this, was I'm going well. The bad part was, I should've gone alot earlier, right about mile 3.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Inspiration for the day!

You've looked at the image and now it's forever stuck in your brain!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mo-town Wednesday niter

I've really got to start getting out of work earlier on Wednesdays when I head down to Morgantown for the evening ride there. It leaves promptly at 5:40. I dumped my car at 5:41 at Gunnar's house and tossed the bike together and rode down the hill. I probably was starting with an 8 minute deficit. The first 4 or 5 miles are generally taken at a lighter pace by the group and they go along the river at about 20mph, then when they turn off the river road, it heats up. I caught up with Betsy and my teammate Chris (Dr. Big Legs) after he'd cracked his saddle. There is really something to be said about having heavier components on a bike. A saddle is one place where stupid light is probably not the answer. They were only about a mile and a half from the turnaround point and I checked over the bike and found the problems for Chris since he wasn't sure why his saddle was not feeling right. I'd managed to close about 3 minutes on the group. On the run back in, I had to do another TT to catch the group back after Chris flatted and I'd stopped for him again. It was certainly not his night. He said to just go and he'd make it back in on his own. I didn't contest the state line sprint since I was still a bit winded but the climb up Rt 19 where I usually fell off, I stayed up in the front part of the group and going over the top the ol' Mavic Cosmic pro wheels carried me past everyone in a coast. I'm starting to feel better if I can use heavy wheels and still climb well. I've got a race this weekend at Valley City, OH , so we'll see how it goes.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The way racing ought to be...

I just did the Tour of Millersburg this past weekend. I didn't set the world on fire. I didn't really add a whole lot to the race. But I had more fun this past weekend than I've had at a road stage race weekend in years. This town really came out behind this race and made it a super fun weekend for everyone involved. I rolled in Saturday morning for the 12 mile TT. It was a pretty good course and I was doing ok, but just really didn't have the strength to push the bigger gear like I was hoping. I finished rather unimpressively, but felt good spinning down. Maybe that was a sign that I didn't go quite as hard as I could've. After a sandwich and hanging out in the park in town, it was time to get ready for the crit. It was a really good course and the townsfolk were out and watching from their porches. The best scene was the line of older ladies who were out on the sidewalk with their lawnchairs and snack tables, each with a glass of wine on them and they were chatting and having a good ol' time. After the criterium, there was the 'Meet and greet with Bob Roll' at one of the Ned Smith Community Center. This place was pretty cool. It was built to honor Ned Smith, who was a naturalist artist and produced many paintings and prints that now command a pretty hefty piece of change to obtain. Much of his original artwork was there on display and the grounds were absolutely beautiful. While there, I was talking Barry Daub, one of the guys who were helping with the organizing of the race. Earlier in the day, I was asked where I was staying and I'd replied 'eh, I'll find a motel.' I was taking the 'God will provide' approach to finding a place. I was not disappointed this time. I'd told him my plans of getting a hotel room back near Harrisburg and he was instantly saying, 'No no no, don't do that.' He turned to his wife and asked, 'The Rowes are putting up some riders aren't they. Call them and see if they have another bed.' Within 2 minutes, I had a place to stay. Everyone at that point, was heading back to town for dinner. Wayne's Inn, was a pretty good place to eat. Even the people I was staying with, Terry Rowe and his family were there as well as around 30+ racers. There were alot of the riders from the MAC series there and we had a great time there. So many road races that I've gone to seem to be 'yep, let's race and get out of Dodge'. If they stop anywhere to eat, it's with their team and there is very little interaction with other riders. This could not have been more different. Several of the riders were put up at an Amish farm and they had fun by going on cart rides and helping with milking cows and other tasks from their stories. I was able to sleep in a bit as my race didn't go off til 1PM. We had a great breakfast in the morning. Mrs. Rowe was laughing because when she asked what I wanted for breakfast and I'd replied 'pancakes would be fine'. Apparently that is one of the little things that her and her husband don't agree on. He doesn't like pancakes and she does so she doesn't often have them at the house. If she wants pancakes, she said she usually went out to breakfast for them. We ate out on their deck which had a great view of the Susquehanna river as well as a wide open field behind their house. As we were eating, a few deer came out and were poking around. There was also a small flock of wild turkeys as well. It doesn't get much better than that. After helping clean up, it was time to get over to the race course. I got there with 2 hours to go before my race and helped hand off some water bottles to racers coming thru the feed zone. The guys putting on the race were very interested in hearing what we thought would make the race better. Is there anything that could be changed. The answer was unanimous. Not one thing! Keep it as it is, you've got it absolutely right. The road race that afternoon had its spots where there was a bit of a punch to it, but the race was between the racers, not the course. Unfortunately, I didn't pay attention to the fact that I would need the calcium and potassium supplements after the double stage the day before. Even though I kept drinking and eating during the stage (Little Debbie oatmeal cookies rule!), I wound up having a cramp in my hamstring 5 miles out from the finish. I couldn't get it shaken out in time to draft the follow vehicles, so I got left behind. At the finish, I'd found out that there were several riders looking to my wheel to be behind at the finish. I'd goofed up some plans when I disappeared from the pack. Apparently they noticed that I only took smooth lines thru the turns, no jerky movements and was able to move around the pack exactly as I wanted. No effort was wasted and with the exception of almost getting caught behind an effort on the first lap to pinch off a group of riders by the Mainline cycling guys, I was able to stay right near the front without having to put an effort in(I like to make the joke that I'm writing a book on bike racing entitled 'How to stay in the front 10, never take a pull and get away with it). The worst part of cramping up was at that point, I had picked out the couple riders that I was looking to be my sprint markers. If I'm doing that, I know I'm going fairly well. Who knows, maybe I'm coming out of the funk I've been in most of the summer. After the race, the promotors were ready with wraps and cookies for the riders, so after cooling down and getting the wheels back to the car, It was good to get something to eat before the drive home. This is definitely a race to put on your calendar. It is certainly on mine and we'll be bringing the full wrecking crew next year for both the masters and the 123s. It'll be a good one next year without a doubt. I'm getting my reservations for host housing in early next time round.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Another rant.

Well, this past week and a half have been hell at work, so riding has suffered. I do have a day of hookie scheduled for Thursday to go to the Morgantown Grimpeurs ride though. One of my clients wound up with a bit of an issue last week. Their server kept bouncing on and off through the course of a day. I got up there after it bonked completely. I started checking out everything and when I looked at the network switch (the thing all the computers plug into so they can talk to each other) the battery it was sitting on top of was covered in what looked like roofing tar. What the hell? I started looking around at the ceiling and other things to see what or who might have done this. I knew the bank next door was doing construction, but that shouldn't have anything to do with our office. Upon picking up the switch to inspect the battery closer, I saw what happened. The rubber feet on the switch had actually melted off. Well, if you're around things long enough, I find you eventually see everything. Of course, the construction people denied any issues. They either crossed a wire or were causing such a draw on power that the battery heated up to a dangerous level. The law firm next to ours also lost their network, so this was definitely not an isolated incident on just our network. What really pisses me off is when people goof up (it happens to the best of us) and then refuse to accept responsibility for it. Just an admission of 'oops, I'm a moron, sorry' would suffice sometimes. It's an insurance situation, but I look out for my customers and if I screw something up, I don't bill to fix it. I like to think that other people would have the same scruples. I guess I'm hoping for a bit too much here. In the meantime, I've had quite a bit of loss of sleep getting everything back in order.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

If you can't do it well, at least be colorful.

That pretty much sums up my WV Stage race experience. The TT was longer than I'm really up for doing anymore. I can do longer efforts in road races, but my ability to just sit on the bike and go like hell by myself hasn't been there for a few years. I started out riding like a hero at around 28mph, but after 11 miles, I hit a spot where it just wasn't happening for me. In short, I blew to pieces and there was still the 2 big hills on the course to go. I'd started behind Betsy Shogren and passed her within 3 miles, but in the last 2/10s of a mile of the big climb, she rolled up past me and said 'BOOOO'. I stayed with her and rolled down past her after the descent then locked up completely on a small rise just near the finish. She passed me again. I used gravity to go back past her at the finish, but I knew my time was slow. I was expecting a 58 minute time on the course, but with as bad as I blew up, I wound up with a 1:02. The crit later in the day was disappointing as well. Since they were letting people ride individual stages, one of my teammates came down to help out me in my race and then our 123 GC rider Adam in his. Unfortunately, he was trying to run our race strategy off of how he felt, discounting the fact that I'd already done a difficult stage earlier in the day. In the end, I cracked due to his efforts when he thought we had to take a bunch of time in the crit. I wanted to just take the time bonuses and a bit more time in the last lap which would've put me close enough to do the same thing the following day in the road race. I knew I could win the sprints easy enough, but I did not want to have to deal with the extra efforts. After that debacle, I had to accept the fact that I was racing for second. I also had to accept the fact that I was probably going to finish second in the series as well due to the fact that we'd let a rider who slipped into contention in the series due to the fact that everyone else thought he had done another category in the first race and had been scored that way as well. That's for later though. I stayed with the guys I figured I had to stay with and after they tried to crack me on the climbs, it was going to come to the finishing sprint. Everything came together perfectly. Eric Delaney gave his teammate a long leadout to the final quarter mile and then Fritz tried to jump hard to get rid of me. Sorry, nothing doing there. If I can get to the sprint, you're not going to drop me like that. Then disaster struck. Course marshalling at the WV races has been sketchy before, but this time, we were sprinting into cars. As we came around the final bend, I found myself heading straight into a Dodge Neon with a Jeep directly ahead of me going in the same direction we were going. WHOA, not good. I quickly saw the only way out of this situation was swing wide left. In doing so, the bike started kicking out from under me. I compensated and the bike wound up swinging completely in the other direction and was now going sideways. Then finally after the extreme lateral stress, the tire, after already getting torn down to the casing, came off the rim. I skidded to a halt. I tried to slip the tire back on, then quickly realized I was going to have to run for it. Yanking my shoes off and picking the bike up, I did the final 200 yards with my hamstrings screaming in pain. I only lost a couple places and I didn't get hurt, but I was pissed. I snapped a bit at one of the people who were supposed to be marshalling (unofficially though) after she asked me if I was ok. 'NOOOOO', I'd shouted and proceeded to start running. At the line, I completely collapsed. Before long, everyone who was there had heard about the spectacular 'near crash' and that everyone was amazed I wasn't a hood ornament and had also managed to keep the bike upright. It was a Kodak moment, but not a good one. Due to the points fiasco from the night before, it threw me back in the standings of the series. I'm still leading but since it is based off of the top 5 finishes, I now have to win the Mountain State Classic outright. There are 2 5 mile climbs which gain a couple thousand feet so it's definitely not my race. I've done well there before but with the race now being called the 'Jay Downs Beatdown' by several of the other masters riders, I'm going to have my hands full.

Friday, August 1, 2008

WV Stage Race!

Well, we're racing the WV stage race this weekend. I'm hoping I have enough under the hood to defend my title in the 40+ ranks. We also have a rider in the 123s, Adam Anderson, who should be able to spank the rest of the field in the TT. If he can do that, we have enough other team riders to goof with the rest in the time bonuses and leave the finish to Adam in the road race. The 123 field got smacked around by the Freddie Fu team last year. We're looking to take up that role in the men's fields. We really do need to get a few women on the team though. They're around, just not really into the road racing though. Maybe that will be something to push for next year. Til then, we have to concentrate on what we have on our plates right now. They should be having leaders jerseys this year too. I've never worn a stage race leaders jersy even though I have won two of them. It'd be cool to get one this year. After this, we have a couple more mountain bike and road races to go and then it's it to cross! I'm really kind of getting keyed up for it.