Saturday, May 30, 2009

First notch on the helmet for the year.

I finally picked up a win this year. I did a short track mountain bike race in West Virginia as part of the WVMBA series. Most of the other riders were treating the race as a mountain bike short track. I looked at it as a cross race. I was one of 2 riders who were on a cross bike and right from the gun, I punched it hard. We started in a barn and coming out I took the short line through the deeper grass and shot away from the pack. I then maintained the pace til I got to a short road section. It was packed enough that I was able to get a good head of steam up and heading back into the trail slung the bike through the sharp turn in. This jumped the gap another 15 or 20 yards. Coming out of the back side of the course, I had a good gap and there were 3 riders working to bring me back. After another short section of road, I accelerated hard down a twisting trail and carried the speed through the mud section. At the end of the first lap I had a couple hundred yard lead. I put it in cruise control at that point. I only punched it when it seemed the riders behind started closing. At the end of the 4th lap, one of them got to within 20 seconds. I did one last hard punch and after slinging myself off the road at a really fast pace which also involved nearly sliding out once on the trail, the gap went way back up as his effort must've been an all-out effort to catch me. Once I disappeared on him, he let up. I came through on the bell lap and was able to cruise it in for the win. It wasn't a big win, but it was a good intensity type ride. I'll do 2 more of the 3 remaining short tracks. I think I'll go after this series to get myself ready for cross this year. After today, we get the XC for the weekend. I'll be back on the single speed so I won't have as much of an easy time though there is alot of rideable but technical single track so maybe I'll have a crack at a high placing. I'm hoping my last week of long stupid miles pays off.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Memorial Day followup

I completed the weekend efforts on Monday with another day of 2 rides. These were much lower key than the ones in the mountains. I kept to local roads and managed about 50 miles. I did get a bit annoyed when a rider on a hybrid bike time trialed to catch up to me when I was noodling around in the industrial park and then sat on my wheel for for a quarter lap. Then finally pulled up along side and then wanted to chat. I know I'm not a pro or even anything that special of a rider, but I always thought that to invite yourself into someone else's draft without announcing yourself was a bit rude. Then finally he says hi. I did reply but let him know I wasn't much for conversation at that point since I had my own thoughts going in the head at that point.

Tuesday, I was supposed to be heading to Westlake, OH. The weather got in the way of that one. My teammate that was to be going with me and I looked at the weather report and opted out of the 2 hour trip to race in the rain. So I stayed in the Pittsburgh area and marshalled the races in Pittsburgh. I wound up doing a total of about 90 laps last nite and that coupled with a 10+ miler in the morning got me to about 325 miles for the 4 day stretch. This was now the biggest mile week I've done in quit a few years and I have tonites race in Pittsburgh as well as Thursday and Friday to go. I figure I'll have hit about 420 miles total for the 7 days. Not a bad total. I'm hoping to be able to manage about 225-250 a week for the rest of the summer with another couple big stupid weekends like this past one to follow up.

One fun thing about marshalling the races for the beginners and women, is sitting in the back and helping the younger riders understand how the game is played. There was one girl who seemed to be about 15 years old and was having trouble sitting in the pack. I showed her on the fly how to anticipate the moves to minimize the effort needed to stay with them. She hung in well the rest of the race and actually sprinted fairly well at the end. All she has to do is to learn how to move up the line and through the riders as the sprint is going without hitting the wind and she'll do quite well. There were 2 other youngsters who'd fallen off the back and after swapping places with one of the other marshals, I got them working both together and against one another particularly late in the race. In the last 5 laps, they were attacking and winding each other back. It was a lot of fun to watch. Unfortunately, the younger one ran out of gas late in the race. For being on a 24" bike with questionable wheels versus the other on a 700c wheeled bike where the bearings were definitely better, young Lincoln definitely did a great effort. I always make a point of talking with them after the race to let them know things they did well and a few tips to help them get better. After all, if you're not enjoying the racing, you usually don't stay in the sport very long. I think if these two youngsters can get past the car thing when they get their licenses at 16, they could do very well.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Day 2 - Memorial Day Weekend.

I managed to get up this morning. That was a lot considering I'd done 118 miles yesterday. When I got home, I then went to the fireworks for the local community days. I wound up having to walk about a mile and a half to get into the park and then back out to the car. I didn't feel too good when I got home. I got out on the bike about 9AM and did the morning 20. The legs didn't feel too bad but I could tell, I wasn't going to be climbing as easily as I was yesterday. After lunch and a nap, I struggled to get going after starting to watch the Coke 600 race. I forced myself to break away from it and got out. I didn't have as ambitious of a day planned as yesterday. I still did manage 3 ridge crossings and got back into the Latrobe starting point with about 73 miles in the legs. I did almost come to grief when blasting down a hill, I nearly smacked into a large blackbird. That was just not the kind of thing I needed. I'm now about to sit in an icewater bath now. The legs are screaming right now and I need to take care of them. I'm a bit over 210 miles for the weekend now. I only need 40 to break what I set out to ride. Thankfully, tomorrow will be much easier.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Long stupid miles!

I'm taking the weekend off from racing. Last weekends results told me it was time. So, I'm just going to get out there and ride some long stupid miles. Each morning will start off with a 20 miler at the Yoop(a 2 mile flat road that I use for light spinning). Then after a good breakfast/lunch, I intend to hit the mountains. On Saturday, the plan is to do 4 major ridge crossings. The route I have takes me up to the 7Springs resort where Nationals was held a couple years ago, then back down, then up the ridge again on the next crossing over to the Hidden Valley resort. I'll have already done Chestnut ridge with a 4 mile crossing. Then after crossing the mini ridge in between the 2 big ones again, I go back up Laurel via the Linn Run Climb. Then I'll do the run back into my launch point in Latrobe. This first day should be a bit more than 100 miles. I'll lop off the 7Springs climb on Sunday which should still give me an 80 mile day. Then Monday, I'll tone it down and do some smaller climbs near home. Welcome to Western Pennsylvania. One bitching climb after another.

Just got back from day one. Morning ride - 20 miles. Afternoon ride, I had to cut the final climb short since I got out a bit late in the afternoon. I road almost 100(96, I just could finish those last few miles) miles but trimmed the final 2 (out of 7) off the Linn Run climb. Damn. My goal was to be 250 miles this weekend, I think I'll pull it off and then some.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New VP bunker location

"Biden exposes location of VP Bunker."

After opening his yap one too many times, it's been reported that VP Joe Biden will get a new double secret bunker for times of national emergency. It will be located at the 7-Eleven at 3530 Conneticut Ave NW in Washington, DC. This decision was made after the Vice-President announced to the press the location of the previous bunker. When necessary, the VP will be transported under the protection of the secret service, to the bunker where he will serve Slurpies to the customers til the emergency has passed.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I couldn't do it . . . . a third time.

Well, the form has been coming up so I chose to do a weekend of racing when most of my other teammates weren't able to do the road trip. I've been feeling good but not that good. The first race was the Smoketown Airport Crit in Lancaster. I wound up working in Johnstown, PA (Flood City) which had me an hour on the route to Lancaster so instead of backtracking home, I just did my Friday evening ride there and then drove eastward. I got to the race and even got a decent warmup. I was expecting there to only be around 20 or so riders, but from the original 14 preregged, we wound up with about 35 riders. In this mix were 2 teams, one with 4 riders and the other GS Lancaster had a full compliment of 6. This made it a total bitch as they were able to have their riders roll off the front on a continuous basis. The first 3 went pretty much from the fun. It was a windy day out and I was telling myself, 'not the first move. wait til the second'. BUUUZZZZZZZ - OOOOOOO, wrong answer Bob! It stayed out. A second move involved the remaining Lancaster riders and a few others. When I saw the group form up and start riding away, I realized, I had to go right then. This involved a stretch of 200+ yards into the headwind and then through the turns where a crosswind would still slow you down. I made it out of the nasty headwind but still had a bit of a cross wind going down the backstretch. I punched it hard a second time and got within 25 yards by the bottom turn. I flew through the turn and was on. We seemed to go hard for a couple laps and I saw the remnants of the field falling away. Good, I thought. Less people for the party. Inexplicably, our group let off the gas and we wound up getting caught by all the small groups. Later they said, 'we didn't realize we had a gap'. I remember having that one used on me by the Alliance Environmental boys at Williamsport a few years ago in a nasty rainy crit which I still consider one of my best performances in a race. I'm thinking they were just out trying to waste our energy. It did work as I was unlucky when they attacked again and I was behind slower riders. All of a sudden for a third time, there was another freaking gap. I tried launching again but this time, it just wasn't going to happen. I got halfway across the gap and then the body told my brain to have a nice day and there you have it. I did ride strongly but really need to have teammates with me. It makes it easier when you don't have to be dealing with each and every move. Later Saturday, I drove down to Baltimore for the Kelly Cup. It was cool seeing my friends from the MABRA area. The 35+ race started with around 80 riders and it went hard and fast right from the gun. Did I say it went hard and fast? Inside of 3 laps, half the field was gone. Before we got 6 laps in I was just done. I was sliding back through the field and all of a sudden there was an acceleration which I wasn't able to stay with. I waited for the next rider to come past. After waiting a second and no one came through, I took a quick peek back. WTF!?? Where did everyone go. I was able to see the small group of 9 off the front. The second group has around 10. A third group just ahead of me has a dozen riders in it. Another rider and myself killed it for a couple laps to catch them, but once a prime got called for that group. that was it. I knew I was a bit tired from all the racing I've done in the past 6 days (4 races) but jeez, I should've been able to hold onto it for maybe 10 miles. Seeing riders like Kris Auer in the back group that I'd slipped out of made me feel a bit better, but only slightly. Oh well, it's time to lick the wounds and recover through the week while I prepare to spend all next weekend in the mountains. If things go well and I don't wuss out, I plan to have around 250 miles and at least 10 major ridge crossings in those 3 days. I haven't done a weekend like this for a while and I need to get it to try to get myself up to where I need to be for the next phase of the season. I really like riding in the Laurel Mountains in western PA. There are lots of good roads and you don't see many cars while I'm up there. It should be good.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Feeling the love set in . . . finally.

I'm back at the desk pretending to do work now. I drove up to Cleveland last evening with a teammate for the Westlake circuit race. They really need to get at least one or two more volunteers (pay them, i'll pay another buck for the race) so we can have both lanes open for the sprint. I would've done a top 5 finish there, but after the pack damn near ran into the back of a pickup truck on the final lap and then about 20 people ignoring the yellow line rule in the rush for the sprint, I wound up about 30 riders back. I got somewhere between 10th and 15th which wasn't too bad considering all I did was roam through the group(with the rider traffic, it was all I could do) til I crossed the line but when you finish and aren't even breathing hard something isn't right. I was happy with the race because about 15 miles in, a break started that looked like it had the right mix and I was able to burst away from the pack, fly past a couple riders who were blowing up from going with it initially and come up to the back, go to the front immediately and do a strong pull. Unfortunately, there was enough horsepower up there to scare the teams in the pack who didn't make it and a general pack reaction happened. When the other riders saw this, they backed off on the throttle, but it was still good to see the reactions of the top riders when I rolled up to them and then past to stoke the fires of the break. They know I'm back and they're beginning to take me serious again. It's a good feeling.

Monday, May 11, 2009

RATL and Westlake

Wow, it's the first time I've worn a road helmet at a road race in 3 years!

I just finished up the Summit Freewheelers Race at the Lake series for the year. I raced there for one of my teammates who really felt he had a good crack at the win there so after being fairly aggressive throughout the race (including almost picking up one little weasel by the scruff of his neck and tossing him in the weeds) we found ourselves in a pretty good position for the finish. With a lap and a half to go, I went up to the front and wound the pace up. I was able to hold it going fairly quickly for half a mile and heading into the final hill, I hesitated for a couple seconds thinking I'd be able to make a second push over the top of the little rise. Damn, I'd overestimated my strength. I did lead into the hill going around 30 and a bit, but I just don't have that long range ability to keep it going like I need it to. Another 100 yards up over the little rise and I would've been able to stay on it for another quarter mile. Unfortunately in the end, I blew up and Chris left a gap on the right side of the road where he needed to be opening his sprint from and we only wound up with a fourth place. It was a good finish but if I'd just waited before I blew everything out for another lap, we could've had a win. Oh well. On the plus side we'd done a decent race. The bad part of the day was when I started the 123s. Paul Martin and company from the RGF team just wound it from the start and it was hell. I hung in for around 6 laps, but I just wasn't in the frame of mind to be going that fast so soon after my efforts from the first race. When you're flying up the hill in the pack and you're doing over 25 and the pace wasn't cooling off, you know it's going to be a tough day. Most of the main protagonists from the first race blew within 10 miles and the rest of the pack wasn't far behind. There is so much talent there right now with multiple former national champs (Martin and Baldasare) along with the Inferno pro team and a couple top notch amateur teams it is pretty much impossible to double up when there is only a 10 minute break between the 2 races. I'll get a much better crack at them Tuesday at Westlake though. I'll be about a third of the way there and when I link up with a teammate who will be a bit further along the way, it shouldn't be that bad of a trip. I've done very well in the long drag out sprints there and I love the 120 degree turn they have on the one end of the course. Every year there riders go careening off the course when they realize they've overcooked it trying to follow someone like myself through that turn. I almost wish the finish was on that side of the course as I could really create some havoc by nailing it through the turn and blasting my way towards the finish. I at least know that I won't ever get dropped there as even the big boys tread a bit lightly there. Whatever happens, it'll be fun.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Warm and Fuzzy?

Well, I am just getting the warm and fuzzies with the current business climate here. Chrysler and GM are both being 'sent' into bankruptcy being ordered by Obama to do so. WTF? When does the government get that kind of say. Then part of the terms that are to be coming of this is that the UAW gets somewhere around 50% of it? Double WTF! They aren't putting a freaking penny into the game and they are walking away with half of it? That is just out there! It is a huge crime that is being committed on the tax payers of this country. If anything, the tax payers should be getting that ownership with a definitive plan to spin it off so the government can get on doing the things it should be doing what it should be which is protecting the country. We are seeing a full-blown arrival of what Ayn Rand wrote about 50 years ago. If this doesn't get stopped, we are doomed as a country. We are seeing the same type of economic positioning as was seen in Germany and Italy in the 20s and 30s. Bad things are coming. Get your arms out ready to have the chip implanted now. It's on its way.