Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mental health days...

I was "sick" on Tuesday.

Now let me define sick. Part of me was sick that I missed Sunday's ride. I was also sick that I hadn't put in a truly "big" day of riding yet. I was also sick that I had to be inside on what ended up being a really nice day. I was also not feeling well enough to go to work.

But surprisingly, I was feeling well enough to go ride my bike. :) I got 100.3 miles in with a good session at Hains Point in the middle. I left the house with Kari as she was going to work around 9:00am, did a loop out to and down Great Falls on the Maryland side and then made my way back to HP for the lunch ride. Nima, Frick, Young, and a doozy of other heavy hitters were there so the pace was good and the sprints were fast. Here is the lesson learned from Tuesday:

1) In the sprint, if you're reacting to the launch, your race is as good as over. Frick and Young did a couple of two man leadouts that were unstoppable due to them catching everyone by surprise. At that speed, getting just enough of a jump on everyone else is enough to seal the deal. Even if someone else is feeling strong, they still have to come across to the two who took off and then somehow find the extra gear to pull through for the win...and against that kind of talent...good luck.

2) There is some serious talent locally in the D20/MABRA region...I'd put our top riders up against any other region and I'm betting we end up on top. Jersey? New York? Penn? California? Arizona? They got nothing on us. And when I say "us" I mean those 1 boys that are killing us all at HP and on the group rides.

3) 100 miles felt really good. I actually didn't feel that sore today and wanted to get out and ride with Esmonde and the gang in Arlington today...too bad work got in the way.

Tomorrow post work is DC World Championships at HP. Feeling pretty good, so we'll see what happens. I'm actually getting a bike fit finally at CHB at lunch tomorrow...maybe if the fit is dialed in a little better I'll be more comfortable on the bike...and maybe that will result in more power...who knows.

Cheers all.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Not enough time in the day...

ISO Cycling/Family Man Mentor...

This is my open letter to those who have ridden farther, for more years, and have more knowledge than I do on how to balance biking and this thing called life:

Question: How the $@#$ do you guys/gals do it? Minus leaving the house at 3:30 in the morning to get 5 to 6 hours in, I don't see any other way. If you have a significant other, kids, jobs, do you make the time and how do you keep the household from exploding?

As an example, I love the 10:00 am Saturday ride from Rock it. It's one of those measuring stick rides that allows you to see where you're at against some of the top local riders. Problem is, to do that ride I have to leave the house at aprox 9:00 am to ride up there and I usually don't get back till just before 2:00 pm. That's 5 hours of peak "getting stuff done time" on a Saturday...Brunch, trips to Frager's, cleaning around the house, etc...and I don't have kids either. I started the ride this past Saturday, but had to duck out early as my time to use my "go out and play" pass was quickly expiring.

Thing is, I understand both sides. I like to ride the bike, especially when I'm feeling fit. I also really like group rides (I can't motivate myself to ride by's a problem). So biking is a priority and I make time to do it. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to spend a week suffering at working and then, once the weekend comes around, not get to spend any time with the person I love. Having to wait till 2pm to say good morning to your significant other sucks. That clicked Saturday, so I stayed home on Sunday and had a great day hanging with Kari and getting stuff done. The fitness may have suffered a little, but the enjoyment of the day more than made up for it.

Anyway, the big question is how do you do both? How do you get in your training (especially the long rides) and also keep the homestead in a peaceful state? How do you explain to someone, "look, i need to go out and ride my bicycle for 5 hours once a week"? Can you help a brother out?


Friday, March 21, 2008

Tactics, lessons learned

I keep thinking about the UMD race and what went well and what didn't. Breaks didn't really work to well due to the lack of team depth and probably the course layout. Being able to see the people off the front from anywhere kept them in mind and reminded you that you needed to bring them back...they were never "out of sight, out of mind". What I've been thinking a lot about is the end of the 4 race actually. Rayman did a great job at scoring the win, but it shouldn't have played out that way.

With about 5 laps to go, there were only a handful of guys left in the race that actually had a shot at it. We (R1V) had about 6 guys left in the pack to everyone else's one or two. This is where tactics would have been interesting. We should have been attacking and counter attacking the group. With that many guys left, we could have caused some stress to the group by forcing everyone else to bring back the pack to the attacker. If we sent someone up the road and forced another team (individual) to bring him back we could launch someone else up the road once the catch was made and repeat until everyone else was exhausted and we had someone off solo for the win or been fresh for the sprint. We had enough to even have done that while also saving someone for the sprint....I know, tactics at our level is tough. Most of the time we're just holding on for dear life for the finish, but that was a race where we could have pulled it off. The thing is also that the attacks didn't need to be suicide attacks...just enough to cause a little separation and force someone else to put in a little effort (as opposed to sitting in and staying fresh).

I say this purely for spectatorship reasons...I think it is one of the most awesome things when a team can put it together and actually accomplish the goal they set out to do. We've done it a few times at the DC World Championships (Thursday nights at Hains it sticking?!?) with leadouts, and not only is it fun to be a part of...they're unstoppable and work every time against someone trying to take the sprint solo.

One major problem is that there is no definition of roles until you get to much more serious levels. Not a lot of teams and riders are willing to go into races knowing that they're only role is to help someone else have a shot at winning. Maybe the organization isn't there until you get into the P/1/2 categories...I know we all know about that stuff (we get the magazines and we watch the race coverage), but maybe it's just harder to implement in reality. I went into this season with aspirations of being the team player and trying to get those who have been 3's and higher longer than I have shots at winning races. This past Saturday was just me being fortunate to be in the right position at the right time and making the right move, but I know I'll get a bigger kick out of being responsible for getting a teammate a win.

Plus, if I've learned anything from my current professional career, it's that I'm no winner. :)


Sunday, March 16, 2008

UMD 3/4

UMD was a brute. We went into the 3/4 race with the intention to create some hurt early on and try to minimize the field. I attacked on the first lap at the top of the hill and pretty much set myself up for not being able to breath for the rest of the race (that cold air burns). The legs felt pretty good, but my lungs were burning for the entire race. We monitored the front for the rest of the race. NCVC, Hopkins, Bike Doctor, and Kelley all got off the front (at different times) during the race, but nothing stuck. We all put in some pretty heavy efforts during the middle to help bring them back. With 4 to go, Brandon (with some nice nasty road rash on top of chemical burns...ouch bro) and I were sitting pretty around the top 5. I moved up to about 3 or 2 and kept jumping to the wheel of the attacker. Bike Doctor and Kelley kept jumping to the front with 2 to go and I would go with them, trying not to lose position and not to use too much energy. On the last bell lap, Bike Doctor attacked at the line and I went with him...nothing too serious as the group was behind us, but he carried us to just before the hill. He started looking over his shoulder for someone to take a pull, slowing down...and that's where I went. I figured that it was an all or nothing. I didn't check, but I hoped Brandon was there behind me and that if I couldn't stick it he would get dragged around by the counter. I was first up the hill and glanced to see that I had a bike length or two on second position. From there one it was just on the gas all the way to the line. Came out of the last turn with just enough space to hold of a quickly closing Bike Doctor and NCVC. Jose showed me a picture and I think the gap was about half a wheel...close, but enough.

Overall, I was happy to be a part of this one. Everyone did a great job working and riding together. Yesterday I was the lucky one. This year is going to be something special as everyone looks strong. R1V is going to be dangerous.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Thursday night at the Point

First the details:

Weight: 183 (scary light)
Fitness: Good
Confidence: High
Riding in the rain Saturday: Looking forward to it.

Showed up to DC's Thursday night World Championships (Everybody else gets one, I feel like we should get one too...I'm going to make the title stick) at Hains Point with the rest of the guys. It ended up being more of a R1V group ride as it seemed like we were everywhere. We talked strategy for a while about Saturday. Esmonde was dishing out advice on the course, where to go, where to hold back, and how to maximize the chances of a great finish. It's going to be a blast of a race. Cliff, Scott, Joel, Brandon, and Myself are all riding pretty well right now...well enough to be in the thick of it during the whole race. We'll see how it goes.

Legs didn't really feel good till about 40 miles into the ride yesterday...weird. Everything felt tight and too forced. Getting up to speed didn't feel as natural as it has in days past. Miles 41 through 52 felt good though. The top end speed was there, even though the accelleration isn't quite where I'd like it to be. I don't think I'll ever be one of those guys that can get up to speed in blink of an eye...more of a go early and hold on.

I'm really looking forward to watching how the 4 race plays out tomorrow. We have 11 of 35 registered...with some serious fire power. It's going to hurt. :)

Good luck to all. Race season starts tomorrow!!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Racing is just around the corner

UMD Crit is on Saturday. I can't wait. I'm getting that nervous feeling of anticipation of the season actually starting. Kari was making fun of me yesterday as I dished out all my thoughts on how the thing was going to play out and all I had to do this week for prep, etc, etc...I give her credit though, I deserved most of the mockery.

I checked Bike Reg and it looks like only 21 people have signed up for the 3/4 as of this morning. Five of them are from R1V. I'm not a betting man nor do I know much about Vegas odds, but that's not bad representation when almost a quarter of the participants are from your own team. Only 21 also doesn't leave much room for anyone to hide or sit in too much either. It's going to be painful right from the gun for the entire why would anyone want to miss that?!?

Got about 120 miles in last week. I had wanted to get in a monster ride on Sunday, but it just didn't work out that way. I think some easy days here and there this week and some rest for Saturday and all should be good.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Teach a man to fish...

There are others out there that are "experts" on this bike game subject. The 1's, 2's, and local Pros that have been there, done that, and just know what its all about. I remember when I first started going on group rides and showing up to Hains Point. I didn't know Jack about group cycling etiquette, technique, or anything. I remember getting yelled at to hold my line, to stop pulling off the wrong side, and having dudes push me out of pacelines. I was new to it all and excited, but there was no instruction for me...just what I was doing wrong.

I was (and still am) one of those guys that wants someone to tell me how to better at biking. If we do something stupid, tell us, but don't drop the f bomb on us keep cursing. Instruct. Esmonde like to dish out teachings on the sprint and how to maximize the chance of a good outcome. "Put it in the gutter" is a favorite of his. Nima does a decent job of this too at HP...he's big on placing people in the right position in a paceline. If the wind is coming left to right, and you're out of position, he'll ride up behind you and actually push you into a better position to help yourself out and those riding behind. Add an explanation on "why" that position is better and we're golden.

Overall, if everyone tries to help out our fellow cyclists to make them better, the sport and our races in general will get better.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Different levels

Great Monday weather + taunting from Esmonde = Ride at Hains Point on a recovery day.

Trav, E, Cliff, Brandon, and I showed up down at the point for a couple of laps after work and started fooling around with sprints with the wind at our backs. We were chatty on the way down to the point, but picked it up on the Virginia side to the regular sprint line (think lunch ride).

A warning to all signing up for the 1/2/3 races out there: If the race is coming to a bunch sprint, look out for the little tatted guy in the R1V kit. That kid is quick. Two times I thought I had the sprint. I remember the gap from my initial jump, glancing down at the computer...seeing numbers in the 36 to 38 range, seeing the line, and then seeing E coming around out of nowhere. That's not supposed to happen....

This goes back (sorta) to a previous post of mine about how some folks are just gifted. They have that little something extra that puts them just a bit higher on the poll of ability. Now I'm sure a lot of it is also training, technique, instincts, and years in the saddle, but there are a bunch in the MABRA region that race in and race out just perform at a different level..year after year. I think one of all of our goals is to get to that level. Why else put in the miles and all the time and effort (not to mention the dough $$$) on this addiction?

Anyway, enough about that...I was looking at the UMD crit registered riders list and it looks pretty bleak (18 have signed up out of a possible 75). Why is everyone so afraid of this course? Too hard to early in the year? I've heard that the first turn scares some. Sign up already!! How often do you get a crit this close to those college kids for making this happen for us.

PS: I don't like to clean my bike...although I'm obsessed with wanting to ride it. ;)

Monday, March 3, 2008

BP Sunday Ride...

Brig and I rolled out to the BP ride Sunday morning instead of making the trek out to Tradezone. I was beat from 87 on Saturday, but felt pretty good going into the ride. We were expecting Esmonde, Travis, and Cernich there, but they were no shows for the start...bummer. The group got a late start, but it warmed up enough to take off a layer or two. I was looking forward to this ride as a guage of fitness (Tradezone is too "on" and "off" to be a good test). As we started the climb up Mass, nothing too fast, but I got blocked in on the right by someone coming towards the back while everyone else was moving up the left. I was cold and itching to go, so once the space opened up a little I made my way to the front passed Jose and kept a steady tempo towards the top. This must have sparked the competitive juices, because not a second after I passed Jose he was big ring out of the saddle going past me and taking DCVelo and a couple of others with him (those kids accelerate quick). I kept it steady, and crested a couple of bike lengths behind...a quick glance over my shoulder made it clear that that little attack at the top had splintered the front of the group a bit.

Coming over Mass and making the right turn three of us bridged up to the lead two. I decided at this point that I was going to suffer for a bit and see what the legs and heart were going to let me do. As we joined the lead, I rolled past the front and kept the pace heavy. I was hoping to simulate a little break trying to get away from the main group and took my share of hard pulls as we closed on McArthur. The pace was hard, and since there were only 4 or 5 of us, there wasn't much time to recover (nor to hide...those cyclists are short). As we closed in on the parkway, I saw the colors of R1V up the road...we were catching up to the rest of the guys that were meeting us who had decided to not make the trek up to Silver Spring. Esmonde, Cernich, Trav, Pete, and Charles were all there...let the fun begin. We rolled past them and they jumped on our caravan.

The parkway was fast and a little unorganized at times because of the speed. There weren't enough to hide out in the back for long periods. Whenever someone did, the pace would lull a little and then speed up...there were a couple of efforts that resulted in fighting the wind up to the front instead of holding the lead wheel. I kept trying to take my turns without missing any. I wanted to suffer and see what I could do up Mt. Gate and through the neighborhoods after this effort.

Coming off the parkway I was sitting well. Second wheel, slightly out of breath, not to sore; overall not bad. We hit Mt. Gate and then that's where I remembered why I will never be a "great" cyclist...hills.

Somehow on the day that the Lord created Man, he decided that guys like me were not meant to go uphill fast. Short bursts maybe, but "long" hills..not so fast. Mt. Gate isn't really that long or steep, but it kicked my @ss. It may have been those other bums driving the pace, but I was the bad habit that everyone has been trying to get rid of for all this time.

Man, no hilly races for me this year.

I was on my own through the neighborhood somewhere between the front group and a group behind and stayed there up Anglers. I didn't venture down into Great Falls. No need for pride or anything at this point, just recovery.

Rides like this are great because it reminds you that no matter how strong or fit you think you are, there is always someone else out there that is ready and willing to whip you silly. Those boys are something else. I was glad to see that Cernich, Trav and Esmonde were driving the train (or at least part of it) on the front least someone knows how to push the "up arrow" on the hills.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. Young Bax was there and showed why he is awesome, taking the Democracy sprint solo by a mile. I think E got the field sprint. Overall, I think the clock said 67 or so mile for the day...not a bad weekend.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Going solo...

Decided last night that I was going to go out and put in some miles solo today. I had remembered reading Angent Nick's blog about a dc velo ride that took them over the potomac on White's Ferry and decided that was where I was going to go.

I got out of the house around 7:05 and rolled out to VA and started out the bike path towards Leasburg. Nothing hard, no power numbers to report, no intervals...just out for a ride and re-appreciating why I enjoy riding my bike. The head wind on the way out was pretty nasty, but I felt good after putting in about 18 miles for the week (all on Monday). I was in the gym a couple of days, but this weather sucks...and it's been harder for me to get myself outside during the week during crappy weather. I ended up riding about an hour from Vienna to Ashburn with a guy named Jeff who rides for HPC...a good guy to roll with in the headwind. I spend a good portion of it trying to convince him to do road races (he's a cross guy). Fourty five miles later I was in Leesburg eating a bagel with butter and drinking a coffee. I got directions to White's Ferry and headed towards it. The weather started to change a bit (actually was snowing in Leesburg) and went from freezing to really warm once I got to the ferry.

If you haven't been on White's Ferry...take an opportunity to go out there. If you don't want to ride out there, even the drive is worth it. The guy driving the ferry told me it's the only ferry that crosses the Potomac. Really pretty out there and only $1 to cross.

I got lost on White's Ferry Rd (I think I was supposed to turn off at one point) and ended up in Poolsville. I didn't intend on going out there, but rolled through and started my way back to River and back home. I thought for a while that I might be able to tag onto the end of the 10am ride, but my timing was off by a bit. Riding back with a tailwind was pretty sweet.

Overall, I got 87 miles in. It was a long ride that I've been wanting to get in for some time now. The group rides are a blast, but I haven't put in any long steady state miles since forever. Tomorrow a bunch of the R1V guys are going to be at the 8:30 BP ride. The last time we all descended on that ride it was a blast. Should be fun to ride with them and keep working together to have us ready for the season.

I really feel like it's going to come together really well for us as a group this year.