Sunday, August 23, 2009

End of the road season. (Thank God!)

Well, the end of the road season is winding down. It has been a disappointing one at that. I started the year out really well, unfortunately, I did not do my traditional weight workouts thru early April. So I started out slow and little by little, I died out completely! I do have a couple more events with one that I'm particularly interested in doing well in. The Long Street Tour in Columbus, OH on my birthday, September 5th. That would be a heck of a present to myself, but I'd also take a win from anyone on the team. In this race a few years back, I was just coming out of an injury plagued season after a very nasty crash early in the season. I'd had a couple good races but no sprint. So I was the guy who monitored the front or chased the whole race for out team. Of the 22.25 miles out of 25 that I was in the race, I was on the front for well over 10 miles. If an attack went and one of our team members was not in the it, I'd go to the front and raise the pace 1 or 2 mph. Then motor til the gap came down and a counter could go. From there, I would park myself in third place and just be a total jerk to everyone trying to organize a chase. It took a lot of effort and just when I was thinking we were going to pull off the race as we wanted, I popped. Right after that, the final attack went and the 2 other riders on my team didn't respond. I hated putting that kind of effort out to have it wasted like that but hey, that's baseball. I'll probably be in the same kind of role here, but I will be looking for the opportunist moves. I was able to cross a huge gap at the westlake crit a few weeks ago and I'm pretty sure I can handle repeated moves like that especially as there is a lot of cornering in this race. To prep for it, I will finally be getting down to the track in Pittsburgh for the fixed gear races on next Friday. I've been trying to work that into my schedule all year. Up til 2 of the individual events last year when I was competing on a gear that was too small for the track size we are on, I'd not lost there since I started going down once or twice a year starting in 2003. I did finally get a 15 tooth cog and set matters right in the final two events, a miss and out and then a 10 lap scratch race. This year, I hope to get down there and kick everyone around and now that I know what gearing to use, I'll be there from the gun and going for it. I find that the intensity of track racing really gets the legs going for a crit as long as it isn't the next day. It also works for cross which starts up in a few weeks. I'll be tag teaming my first couple cross races with the finals of the WVMBA MTB Short Track series. The last time I was at one of those, I won handily. Everyone else showed up for a MTB Short Track race and I showed up for a Cross race. Even on the old steel Fort, the race was decided in about 200 yards. The next 20 minutes were a formality. I hope the others work the same way. We'll see in a few weeks!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Strong finish for the road and a history lesson.

I'm finally feeling like I've got something in the legs. After going through several weeks of dealing with some health issues dealing with fatigue, the body feels like it's responding. Last week, I got some really good cross training in. I was riding the bike around Gettysburg and then jumped in with the Boy Scouts hike around the battlefield. I caught up with them after I'd done about 25 miles. They were about halfway thru their hike and were at Devil's Den on their lunch break. As long as we were on the road, I was on the bike, but once on trails between Little and Big Round Tops and then the fields back up through the left side of the Confederate lines on the battle field, I had the bike shouldered. I road the couple miles to the starting point of Pickett's charge. I acted as a communications man between the front and back of the scout troop as a few had gone on ahead and then a couple stayed back with the stragglers. After having a tough time in the mud coming down from Big Round Top, my boy Ryan got his second wind and was making a point of staying near the front. The battlefield hasn't changed much since I saw it as a kid though they did have a new Visitor and Museum center. It was good to get both my boys in for a bit of education on one of this countries most prolific battles and have them understanding why the conflict was taking place. The final leg of the hike was retracing the steps of Pickett's charge and we were most of the way across when one of the scout leaders realized he'd lost his phone. I hopped back on the bike and took the roadway back to where he figured he'd lost it. A couple other tourists saw me riding by and had found the phone flagged me down and was asking me if I was with the scout group who'd lost the phone. That made looking for it easy. After retrieving the phone, I got back to the start of the charge trail through the field again and I ran the whole way. It's hard to imagine what it's like to do this in a battle. I was trotting my bike and a few extra pounds of stuff in a backpack. The soldiers that did this were marching across with their guns, haversacks, canteens and in uniforms. To top that off, cannons that were firing canister shot (old era version of machine gun fire), and infantry volleys were sending a shower of metal that knocked most of these men down by the time they got across. In the time it took to cross the field which for me was about 6 minutes, for the charging rebels, I would imagine it was around 15 minutes, over 5000 men fell. That is a very sobering thought. In dealing with any of the conflicts that we are faced with in the world, I think it is best to remember the words of Robert E. Lee when it comes to armed conflict: 'It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it.'