Saturday, September 27, 2008

What the F@#$ do we do now?

I think I'm having road season post pardon syndorme.

Saturday afternoon...I didn't ride this morning and I'm not going to ride tomorrow (I figure a week of to heal the wounds is warranted). No races on the schedule until March. The road bike is upstairs for the first time in over a year.

Thank god for College Football.

Corn is for Donkeys...Go Hokies.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Are we going to keep going?

Jim Wilson, as always, was there taking shots...they are great.

ING Direct Capital Criterium

I was going to name this one "Amateur Hour", but Mike said not here it goes:

Joel, Brigham, Esmonde, John (borrowed from Pennsylvania), and I all towed the line on Sunday with the intention of getting Mike to the last corner with a shot at the finish. We were definitely the underdogs in this one, as NCVC, Artemis Elite, and Battley HD all had some serious firepower and the numbers (1's) to back it up, but Mike felt fast and we felt like suffering a game on. 57 pre-registered, but it felt much larger at the start.

From the gun, Mike was off the front setting initial tempo. The group was responsive though and never really let anything go. We rode a pretty defensive race and were always in a pretty good position to cover anything that looked promising. At one point, with about 15 or so to go, a move that had NCVC, Artemis, Battley, and a Kenda rider got a couple of seconds on us and the pack lost some impetus. I was sitting about 18th or so and Mike was sitting 5th or 6th. NCVC and Artemis were all over the front and looked to be slowing things down and Mike starts yelling "Jesse! Move...get things going..." Or something along those lines. So I went across with the intention of dragging the group across with me. It was cool because it was going into the start finish and I got some "face time" on the front and a shout-out for the club from Joe Jefferson (always a good thing). With about 10 to go, Brig and I were sitting top 15. I mentioned that with 5 to go we should be all over the front and ready to go. The next 9 laps I fought to keep my position and with 2 to go I was sitting third overall. Held the position and going into the bell lap I was sitting second. The guy leading the group started to look over his shoulder and slow down (waiting for someone to come through) and no one behind us wanted to be the sacrificial lamb that took out the last lap (Everyone is a sprinter in the 1/2/3 too I guess) when in doubt, lead it out. I jumped hard going through the start/finish to start up the last dig (Joel has a great picture of this moment). It was going to play out either two ways:

1) They would let the cat 3 go thinking that he wouldn't make it all the way around by himself (this scenario had a 0.01% chance of success)
2) I was going to set the pace high enough that Mike would be in good position coming out of the final turn as I was hoping that he was in a good position in the pack already (this scenario was the 99.99% probability).

So #2 happened. I held the lead through turn 1 up the hill and through turn 2 with the entire group in tow. I gunned it down the S turns of 3,4,5, and 6 all out and was out of the saddle seeing stars as I headed towards the final 180 degree turn before the final stretch. I was thinking, "pull off now", but figured if I could get through the turn and could do 3 or 4 hard pedal strokes, maybe it'll help. Problem is while I was thinking this, and starting to black out, turn 7 started coming up a little faster than I expected. I had been taking a good line through there all day, but dove in to quickly this time. I wasn't able to hold the turn at that speed and slid out into the barriers...luckily not taking anyone else down with me (I know, f&#$ing amateur cat 3's...locusts of the 1/2/3 race) I laid there for a second or two, moved all the extremities to make sure nothing was seriously broken and got myself up...did a one over on the bike to see whether or not I my convincing of Kari that I was going to need the new '09 Tarmac Pro was going to be easier (nothing serious..dang)...and rode down to the finish (Joel also has a great shot of this one too). Off the back, bruised badly, but happy.

Even with the crash, I had the best time in this race. The course was unreal and the backdrop was awesome. ING Direct/CycleLife and all the other sponsors are awesome for putting it on and I really hope they continue to support it. Thanks to everybody that showed up and cheered us on, it really helps a lot to hear your name while your suffering to hold the wheel in front of you. I think Mike got 9th in the sprint...he's going to have to confirm as he told me after I help down 8 pitchers of beer while watching the Pro race... :) A great day.

Some shots from the race: Here


Sunday, September 21, 2008


Joel got a good shot of me leading it into the last lap of today's 1/2/3 race...

Looks promising right? Problem is that there was also this shot...note the shorts.

Great race, and worth a "great" write up, but I'm too sore and tired to do it now.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Celebrity Sighting

From the 7:00 am Ride this morning:

Not that ugly dude looking back..That's Rahsaan Bahati sporting the Rock racing gear and totally custom painted frame and what looked like a one-off tour of london saddle.

I asked him about Tour of London...seems like a pretty chill dude.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Off the front...Part 2

Turkey Day 2008. Not the most exciting course. Usually, at least in the 3/4 and 5 ranks in years past, it has been a parade followed by a long run in on the last lap leading to a mass sprint that is contested by all. I was a little bit worried that the meltdown from Coppi on Saturday would take a toll on me physically on Sunday. There were a bunch of us in the race, so I figured at a minimum it would be fun.

Pre-race: We decided to take the dogs with us to the race. The wife had a pretty miserable drive over as the dogs both urinated and puked all over the car and on her on the way. That lady with the shorts that were obviously too big for her...that was my baby sporting the stylish post-dog-pee "man" shorts. So, mentally I was upset about that and wasn't able to get much of a warmup for the race.

Race: 3/4 race started as it always does...parade with minor pickups for the early primes. I went for one of the primes and missed it by a tire. An ABRT rider who rolled through in third asked if we wanted to keep rolling since we had a little gap, so we gave it a go. Initially the three of us had about a couple of seconds till two more bridged across to us. We got pretty organized quickly as I think everyone knew what was needed to make this thing stick. We each took real short pulls, very similar to down at HP at lunch or down MacArthur early Saturday morning, and were able to hold 24 to 26 mph average on the course. The rest of the R1V guys in the field said that the field organization just wasn't there. A couple of individual flyers here and there, but nothing that was going to bring the break back. Anything that did look good was immediatly jumped on and "shut down" by solid tactics...great job guys. Anyway, with 4 to go we were still working well together and even rolled through a prime without attacking each make sure it stuck. On the last lap, on my last pull, I noticed nobody pulled through. Let the games begin. An attack went up the right side and we all jumped on it. Everyone was hurting and I was feeling the heat and Saturday's effort in the legs. Another move happened (eventual winner) with one turns to go and nobody initially jumped for it. It was a solid effort as it was far enough away to create doubt in the rest of us, but close enough to hold on. With one turn to go the four of us left started attacking each other. I had nothing left, so I played my one card up the right side on the slight downhill leading up to the sprint finish right after a move on the left and gave it my all. I was caught by two and rolled in for fourth.

Post Race: I was happy with getting in the winning break. I'm not too pleased with my closing speed and the power I had left at the end. It is something that I've suffered from in the past. Twenty minutes of sustained effort followed by intense bursts usually end up in the intense bursts not really being all that intense. Maybe more intervals following long rides. Maybe more sustained efforts to get used to the effort of staying out in the break. Maybe a little more heart and larger cojones. Who knows. Anyway, the season is almost over and it is probably for the best. One more to go on Sunday.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Off the front...part 1

Theme of the weekend. One positive (more on the positive later), one negative. 50 miles of Coppi on Saturday. 22ish miles of Turkey Day Sunday.

Scott puts it best: We all spent a good portion of the weekend in our own personal pain caves. Personally, I revisited a dark portion of the inner suffering that I have not been to in a while. I was faced with a wall that I've cleared in years prior, but when attempting to clear it on Saturday, I ended up short and hit it face first.

On to Saturday:

Coppi. It was hot, the distance was far, the terrain was brutal, and my strategy was not in my personal best interest. 60 to 80 some guys at the start, we rolled out easy and the first lap went by without any kind of excitement. I looked down and we were averaging around 24 mph (it might have been 22mph, I'm having a hard time remembering). Either way, I was unimpressed with the pace. I saw 11mph on several of the climbs that should have been about twice that. Looking back, this was inexperience with road races and a little too much anticipation. I was antsy for action. On the second lap, on the rise to the left on Slidell Rd (here is a map if you want to follow along) I moved towards the front and upped the pace. I gapped the field (no great feat since we were going 12 mph at the time) and just decided to keep going. Boy genius (listen carefully and you can hear the sarcasm) decided that with over 30 miles to go he was going to go off the front by himself and ride away from the 3 field at Coppi. I stayed away for about 11 to 12 miles, and at one point the pace car yelled back that I had over 2 minutes (I don't think that was right Travis thought at most it was just over a minute). For the first 5 or 6 miles of it, I felt good. I felt strong on the climbs, I was holding decent pace on the flats (there aren't that many flat sections) and I was descending well. The second 5 or 6 was a different story. Doubt stated setting in. I was getting tired. The engine wasn't firing on all cylinders and fatigue was setting in. I was holding decent pace I think, but the climbs got a little harder and I wasn't holding the tuck on the downhills quite as well. I got caught just after the right turn from Shiloh Church Rd to W Old Baltimore Rd. The pack came by, and I fell back into the group. Now the field had whittled down a bit, so there was a little positive spin to that effort. But there I was, 1.5 laps from the finish and right back to where I was a lap ago, in the field, but now I had 11 miles of solo time in my pain cave in the legs...not wise. I stuck it out on the back for another lap, but on the final lap right before the left on Slidell Rd, the legs, mind, and heart said "enough"...I was off the back and on a solo journey of introspection. I remembered at that point a saying that everybody and their mother says regarding bike racing. "Have a purpose for every move you make". What was my purpose for going off the front with 30 miles to go? Dumb. I had nothing left. The climb up the finish was me versus my 27 and the 27 had the best of it. Glad I finished, but not too happy with how the race unfolded. We talked in the beginning of sitting in, watching the front for the first couple of laps and then going with anything that looked promising in the last two laps. Had we (I) followed that plan, I think the outcome could have been different...could have been the same, but at least there may have been more of a chance for it to be different. I guess you learn from those moments of pain and suffering. Anyway, here is what I took out of it:

1) Road races are races of attrition and should not be raced like crits. This is obvious to most, but to me (with only three under my belt in the last three years) this is a hard lesson learned.
2) I don't like road races. Maybe if I was smarter racing them I would...but even then I doubt it.
3) Take more water and food next time. I had two bottle and I could have used at least one more. Also, food that is easier to get at then a power bar would be nice.
4) Those thoughts you get when you're off the back ("I hate cycling"..."this is stupid, why am I doing this?"..."who am I kidding, I'm better at sitting on the couch drinking beer anyway") are just for that moment. That negative-ness will pass.

Oh well, chalk that one up as a "don't do that again" moment. I told Scott to remind me of that moment next time I start talking about doing a road race. Remind me of the suffering and then I can ask myself if I want to put myself through that again. I probably will, but hopefully I'll reread this at some point in the future and I'll have a better plan...

Overall, though, thanks to Coppi for putting on such a race. As hard as it was, having something like that "locally" makes the cycling around here legit.


Friday, September 12, 2008

What is better than a tailwind?

I'll tell you the answer...nothing.

A strong tailwind changes everything when it comes down to your finishing strategy. Last night we were jumping at least 200 or 400 meters earlier and holding the speed all the way to the line due to the help of a little "push" from mother nature. Overall a good evening of work on the bike and I felt good finally. Being able to ride consecutive days makes a world of a difference for me. Everything feels loose and the power felt like it was there. Today it is about taking it easy....and then tomorrow. The distance scares me a little, but it's just really the 7am ride...maybe faster?? We'll see.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Reality Check...

I was looking at the results of the Univest Grand Prix Road Roace and noticed something that we here in MABRA never see:

Univest Grand Prix Road Race Results

Take a look at the DNF's. Here are guys that KILL locally. Granted I don't know the whole story..stomach flues, mechanicals, crashes...there are various reasons why someone might not finish. But assuming that these guys were in top form and didn't have something happen to kind of opens your eyes to how good and tough the pro peloton is. Thumbs up and much respect to the guys below for even attempting such an event.

DNF Brian Butts (USA) Battley Harley Davidson Elite Cycling Team
DNF Sean Barrie (USA) Battley Harley Davidson Elite Cycling Team
DNF Ken Johnson (Can) Battley Harley Davidson Elite Cycling Team
DNF Mark Warno (USA) Immediate Mortgage/Artemis Elite
DNF Ramon Benitez (USA) Immediate Mortgage/Artemis Elite
DNF Michael Githens (USA) Immediate Mortgage/Artemis Elite
DNF David Osborn (USA) Immediate Mortgage/Artemis Elite
DNF Sean O'Rourke (USA) Kenda/Raleigh Cycling Team


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

You know you've made it when...

Google tells you so.

Go for Ann Arbor Crit...see what happens. I can retire now as I have made a name for myself. :) j/k


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Done wrong...

on the training side.  Just a short post on how cycling and running are different.  I remember running track in college and training for races post college, and rest days were important.  A rest day in running though was completely off your feet, on the couch, hydrating and rolling out the legs with "the stick".  I don't think this translates well to cycling training.

Towards the end of the season I've taken more days off, but gone harder on my days on.  Some very rough and unaccredited research leads me to believe that a "rest" day on the bike is going out and spinning the legs "easy" for an hour or so.  There are no actual days off, as in sitting on the couch, just easy days where you don't decide to kill it.  I think I knew about this in concept, but just was never able to implement.  So what have been my findings?  I feel like my legs are stiffer, I'm not recovering as quickly, and I'm not as loose as I felt I have been in the past.  Funny though, I do feel great on the Sunday ride when I've ridden Thursday, Friday, and Saturday....what does that tell you?

So what does that mean?  I think this past Sunday's performance may have been hindered by not riding the bike between Wednesday through Saturday (travel and stuff kept me off the bike)...a little bummed by this realization as it just means more time on the saddle...which is fun, but is tough when balancing everything else in life.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ann Arbor Criterium

Results are here.

(I did a write up for the team that I sent, but I figured I'd put it here as well)

I went up to Ann Arbor with the wife and the dogs to visit her family, catch the Michigan vs Miami of Ohio football game, and race the Priority Health Ann Arbor cycling classic...what a tough race.

I was signed up for the 2/3 and being a first year race the numbers signed up were pretty slim...about sixty guys showed up, mainly from Michigan, Ohio, and Canada. Surprising too since they were paying ten deep with tenth getting $40.The course was six turns with all of them being at least 90 degrees and had two hills about the steepness of capitol hill (maybe a little less) but about half as long...not grinders, but enough to cause separation and take a toll on the legs. There were also two railroad crossings that were covered with a layer of sod..overall a truly gnarly course but exciting to race.

Wasn't able to get much of a warmup, but rolled off the line sitting mid pack. Spent the first two laps making my way to the front and was sitting around top 7, and felt comfortable. Pace was more like a fast 3/4 back home...but combined with the course, guys were getting popped quickly (20 guys finished). Plan was to watch for the right move and go with it. Two guys made a strong move going into a 90 followed by the hill leading to the finishing straight and it felt right...I jumped to bridge across and we had three of us and about 5 seconds. We ended up dropping one of the guys and me and a guy from Michigan built our lead to about 17 seconds...took a $50 prime while we were away, which sapped my power. The guy I was with was the strongest guy in the race (eventual winner) and I was dying trying to recover and hold his wheel.

I made a decision that I'm regretting now, but race and learn.

I was hurting...bad. I wasn't recovering quick enough and thought that if I kept trying to stay away with this guy I'd blow up and we'd be somewhere in Maryland right now. I made the call to sit up, let him go at it alone and go back to the field. The gap was about twenty seconds at this point. I fell back in line, picked a position in the top ten and tried to recover. The pack was breaking really hard into all the turns and the guy up front built himself around a 25 second gap just by riding the turns quicker than everyone else.

The rest of the race was uneventful. Nobody could get organized to chase, even though there were teams with 3 to 4 guys still in the chase. I wasn't going to do anything as I had already got gas money from the prime and was content to sprint for without any teammates I felt it wasn't my responsibility.

With three to go I was sitting about 7th. Held the position and with what I thought was one to go I went with a guy that was making a strong move on the finishing stretch. The announcer corrected himself and said that it was actually two to go..that sucked. Anyway, on the last lap the wheel I was following popped on the last hill and I had to adjust and get back on the gas...rolled in with the bunch in 9th for $45.

Looking back I wonder if I just wussed out when I went back to the field and that if I had just put the head down and gutted it out, maybe payday would have been a little sweeter. Who knows...I had a long drive back from Michigan to think about it. Superstar Jay Moglia sent me a reply that really shows that he knows a lot of this bike game. Super useful stuff that should be shared. Here are the good parts:

Now as for the second guessing tough to say. Obviously if you fully blow up in the brake you are done and get nothing so maybe you were smart to do what you did although I would say given the situation and if at any way this is possible what you should of done is verbally conceded first to the dude and just sit on to see if you can recover. Is possible that just be sitting on you could of recovered and maybe helped him if you could and had a certain second place.

If the dude was just motoring and you were maxed then there isn't much you can do but with an opportunity like that I would try every little thing before bailing.

I know I have had to do that (concede to stronger rider in brake so I wouldn't get attacked) - is kind of hard/weird to do that but on the other hand it is a smart last grasp move.

He's on the money. I kept thinking to myself, wondering, "could I have suffered through the pain and recovered on his wheel?" I'm kicking myself a little because I like to think that when that moment comes when you either fight or flight (cycling-wise), I'd fight it out...but I didn't. Maybe I was tired...who knows.

Anyway, Coppi and Turkey Day this weekend...we'll see if I can HTFU.


Monday, September 1, 2008


is the new black...again.

White handlebar tape + white tires + white seatpost + white saddle = Hot!

I'm on the everything on the bike should be white bandwagon. Granted everything that was white is now dirty, but still...bling is in. I'll take pictures one of these days, after washing the bike....which could be in a couple of months.

Four to go

It is late in the year, but there is still a lot of bike racing going on...regionally too. So here is the schedule:

September 7th, Priority Health Ann Arbor Classic Criterium
Race website
Next weekend should be pretty awesome. Usually trips up to see the wife's family involve too much food and lethargic activities. This coming weekend is going to be badass. Saturday we go see Michigan try to redeem itself against Miami of Ohio and then on Sunday I see how I measure up against the Midwest 2/3s in the crit. I was talking to teammate Andy (he's from Michigan) about the kind of talent up there and how they measure up to the Mid Atlantic, and it sounds like it is going to be a really tough race. The course looks challenging and any race with 2s in it is hard. We'll see how it goes. Fitness feels pretty good at this point. I figure I'll ride smart, yet aggressive, and see if I can sneak myself into a break that stays away...or set up for the sprint (which I wouldn't prefer as I'm discovering I'm not much of a sprinter). Really, just be around at the right times in the right place...isn't that the core rule of bike racing?

September 13th, Giro de Coppi Road Race
Coppi's website
I was on the waiting list for this one. Originally this race opened up when my arm was broken, and I thought the season was over, so I didn't sign up for it. When everything healed up and they moved the race back to September, I figured...well, maybe I will do it. Got on the wait list and then go in..sweet. This one is the Road Race cool would that be, right? Problem there is the distance I think. Racing for 50 miles may be a bit much at this point. The only other road races I've done was Walkersville as a 5 two years ago and Jeff Cup as a 4 last race season...Walkersville was a joke as we rode around for 40 miles at 18mph and then sprinted the last 200 meters. Jeff Cup hurt me bad for some reason and left a mental block on road races that I don't think I've gotten over yet. Not sure why. I really like crits. I REALLY like them, but maybe I'd be into the longer stuff to if I tried again. We'll see after this one. We should have a pretty good team and have already started talking for you other teams out there, be prepared because we don't want another Hagerstown again, do we?? ;)

September 14th, Turkey Day Circuit
Race Flyer
This race is a blast and I've had a lot of fun each year I do it. End of the season, everybody is having fun, and there are a bunch of flyers with a nice long sprint in the end. The course itself isn't anything to write home to mom about, but still we'll have a lot of guys in it to cause aggravation for everybody else.

September 21st, Capital Criterium
Race website
First year criterium, dowtown DC, 1/2/3 race, and a technical course? This has all the makings of a super sufferfest. I was talking to Michael Githens (who by the way is an animal) and it sounds like the elite guys are doing the Pro race as opposed to the 1/2/3. The cool part about that is seeing our local boys giving it their all against the national pros that come into town. Seeing The Muscle banging it out at CSC against Magnus and the rest of the Elite pros was inspirational and made a lot of us proud to see one of our own doing so well at such an elite level. How cool a nickname is "The Muscle". I'll probably get something like "The Achilles", still awesome...but not nearly as cool. Anyway, this race I hope to finish and just be smart about placement...cause this is going to be one of those that if you're gapped, you're gone.

That's enough...cheers y'all.