Friday, February 27, 2009

Another world

A tour of the Garmin Slipstream service course in Girona:

Slipstream Blog

A cool video about the level of financial and personnel backing that these Pro Tour teams have. Wow.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Leadout

I finally figured it out. All this time, I've had an idea in my mind of the super train of pain and how it was supposed to be implemented. I wasn't wrong, I just didn't quite understand the role that each person plays and that how, when performed in synch, how unstoppable the leadout train can be.

So here it is:

Preferably you will have 4 to 5 guys on you team at the end of a race who are willing to commit to the common cause of getting your sprinter across the line first. 4 to 5 guys you ask? It can be done with less, but pull it off with 4 to 5 and they'll be talking about it for months afterwards on the listserves. :) Now let's go over the roles; rider 1 is the first guy in the train, rider 5 is the sprinter:

Rider 1: Your job is to get to the front and take control of the pace of the pack. As a team you'll probably be starting mid pack, or maybe even farther back. As the first rider in the train, you're not waiting for another teams wheels to take you to the front and wait for them to putter out. You're in the wind, driving it, assuming that your day is going to be done once you get to the front.

Rider 2: Your like white on rice on Rider 1's back wheel. Once Rider 1 has gotten the group to the front, you take over and start picking up the pace to a point where everybody is forced to fall in line behind your sprinter or fight the wind on their own. You aren't sprinting, but you're seated, lackadaisically killing it, trying to keep the pace at a point where everybody else is doubting if they can come around the 3 guys behind you and still have something left to go to the line.

Now if someone is feeling really strong and tries to make that move to come around the train or another team is trying to establish their own train...enter Rider 3.

Rider 3: Your conserving energy on Rider 2's wheel, but not leaving any gaps at all or letting anybody force themselves into the line (and this is something for all those sitting 2 through 5...fight to hold your teammates wheel! All this goes out the window if you let somebody force themselves into the fold). If you see someone trying to make a move to try to come up over your train and take over, it's your turn to go to the front. You let Rider 2 know that their day is done, and you turn the screw a little tighter. Your job is to keep the lead and keep everybody behind you..behind you. Your on the front now and you've upped the speed to the point where everybody has no option but to fall in line behind or go all the way to the back. You're all out until you can go no more. At this point you've also pulled to one side of the road (maybe based on which way the wind is coming) and given enough space to allow your #4 and #5 riders to be protected by your draft and leaving everybody else in the gutter. You've got to commit for maybe 15 seconds, maybe more if you got a lot of power. At this point the line is coming, maybe you can see it...maybe not because you got blood coming out of the corners of your eyes from the hurt you're laying on the rest of the field, and right when you're about to pop..enter Rider 4.

Rider 4: The second you see Rider 3 falter/settle in pace, or you feel some other teams getting itchy to try to come around you and your sprinter, you're out of your saddle and up the road with your sprinter in tow. The key here is to jump, but not to the point that your sprinter is gapped and has to sprint just to get back to your wheel. Your job is to get your sprinter up to top speed and then start your sprint. You're sprinting for a line a ways in front of the actual line and aren't stopping until your sprinter goes around you. It's his responsibility to make the move for the line. Maybe you open the door a little to give him a little space to move, but no pulling off. At these speeds and with the amount of firepower behind you, safety is an issue and you could cause some serious problems if you sit up or pull off and get in the way of somebody else. Nobody comes around you and your sprinter, and if somebody tries...

Rider 5: Your job is the simple you get the glory. Riders 1 through 4 have given their all to get you to this point and now it's your turn to seal the deal. Point yourself at the line and just go. Everybody out there is a sprinter, so no need to explain this part. Just be first across the line. Now the details of your job leading up that point is more complicated. You're the conductor of the train. If the pace is too high and the energy is going to run out prior to you getting to your jump point, let them know to back off...or if the pace is too slow, let them know to pick it up. You're also in charge of letting the guys up front know who if anyone is trying to make a move up the left or right side. Most importantly, you're in charge of buying beers, with the race winnings, for all your boys for laying it all on the line for you.

So there it is...simple, right? I think everybody thinks they know what they should be doing, but nobody does it (or very few people/teams pull it off). Part of it is that not enough teams have the firepower to pull it off and part of it is that guys don't want to sacrifice (remember...we're all sprinters, right??). The thing is though, if somebody does pull it off....they'll be unstoppable...especially in the 3/4/5 since it usually ends up in a sprint anyway.

A lot to process, but fun stuff...cheers.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Young people suck...

Theo Boss is cool no longer...although his name still is.
VeloNews Article

VeloNews: Why did you make the decision to switch from racing on the track to try the road?

Theo Bos: I just wanted to do something else. If you wanted to try to go on the road, now is the time. I am 25 years old. If I waited more, it would probably too late...

What gives with these young guys, eh?? 25 is now getting old? How many guys do we have in the MABRA region who are under 25 and killing it in the P/1/2's? A handful at most. I can think of maybe 2 or 3 names...maybe just 2. I don't know about you guys, but it is hard to really get into the sport at such a young age. Maybe if you're lucky and have some parents that are into it and supportive financially. My parents were cool about it, but didn't really know enough to say, "hey, why don't you sign up to be a junior on "x" cycling club?" Shoot, I didn't really understand it till after college...

Anyway, maybe Theo can join us in the ranks as middle aged pot bellied masters riders one day. That's when the real racing begins anyway...

Monday, February 23, 2009


That steed is not mine, it belongs to one of our sprinters extraordinaire...Senor Nunez. Of course a little white bar tape, some white hudz, and some white speedplays would go a long way in making that machine leamateurdomestique approved. The team bikes are rolling in slowly and the team is going to look sharp on them this year. I'm sorta kicking myself for not getting one...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday observations..

1) What gives with the fans at the Tour of California. 90% of them are fat and overweight. Who knows that the reason is, but maybe the guys that go watch bike races are more of the type that sit around and rather talk bike and drop names than ride bike and take names. ;) The thought of watching the bike race is nice, but I think I'd spend most of the time wishing I was out riding the climbs and the course.

2) I was only able to get out and ride for an hour today, but went out to the National Arboretum and did a couple of laps of my "circuit". It surprises me how few people know about this gem for training in the city. If you haven't gone, you should. I'll give you my course to get you going. Pretty much just roll around the park and there are a couple of good climbs...nothing terrible, but not bad for being within the city limits.

National Arboretum Circuit

3) I'm glad the Tour of California exists, but it was pretty boring overall. There weren't enough stages to really put Levi at risk. Maybe it's too early in the season for anyone to challenge a guy who peaks in February. It's kind of like Superdave riding the tradezone C race and people guessing what the result is going to be.

Here is hoping for better weather...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Tradezone #1

We did the B race and it was what it was and tends to always be. We rode out from the Hill prior to the race and got there with enough time to sign up, empty the system and do a lap in reverse to check the wind before lining up. We agreed that we'd attack and counter as training and then see where everybody was with a couple of laps to go for the finish. Somebody filmed the finish straight every lap, pretty cool stuff:


Joel went up the road on the back stretch on the second lap and got caught right before the final turn, so I countered hard and got a little gap rounding the turn and up the home stretch. I figured I'd just hold on for as long as I could or see if anyone came with me. An Evo guy came with me (you can see it pretty good in the video) and we stayed away for a couple of laps. I think I was the week one out of the two of us as he was taking the lion shares of the pulls, especially into the wind. It didn't help that I think I had at least a foot in height on him (at least it didn't help me...) :) The rest of the "race" was uneventful. A good move by someone from ABRT and some guy wearing black/red went up the road and the ABRT and the other guys teammates kept going to the front of the group and sitting up and blocking. Now, I understand this is a race tactic, but it's a lame one. I've done it before too, but have never felt good about it. What I did notice though is that nobody seemed to want to do anything about it except us (R1V). At one point we tried to get a little chase train going with about 3 of us "driving" it, which was good practice, but didn't seem to do much (fitness isn't where it needs to be and all of us seemed drained from earlier moves). I hope this doesn't become a standing practice of a move going up the road and then us being expected to bring it back.

Anyway, with one to go I moved up to the top 4 and positioned myself with Brigham and Brandon in tow. I was going to try to get us to the last turn first and then let the Lumm brothers take it from there. The first part of the plan worked okay, but we were all gassed to make anything in the sprint, when the group came around me (at the bottom of the hill leading towards the line) I just sat up. What was funny was that a lot of the people that contested for the sprint hadn't done much during the race...which makes sense I guess, but how much fun is it to sit in for 20 laps and sprint for 20 meters...Aces!!!

We didn't stick around to watch the A's and rode back. All in all it was a 70 mile day with a good hard effort in the middle. There is a little dust that needs to be removed from the R1V 3 team, but it's coming...


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Skills & Drillz plus Tradezone #1 Tomorrow

If you're (a) going to Tradezone tomorrow, (b) doing the B race, and (c) don't race for Route 1 Velo, don't worry about me. I'm out of shape, feeling slow, and about 20lbs overweight. If you are A and B but not C (teammate) disregard that last statement...we are going to rock tomorrow! ;)

The Skills and Drills sessions are legit. Little E is doing some good work setting these up. We split up into teams today and worked on taking the right lines through the course and some sprints. We then did a variation of the track Madison race where each person took a lap and then "passed the baton" to the next person (touch of the hand) and then they took off. It hurt pretty good and everybody had a good time. We then did a 15-20 lap mini-crit which was a blast and also hurt pretty good. A couple of the guys are looking really strong and I think the 3/4/5 Route 1 Velo guys are going to be scary good this out. ;)

We're rolling out to Tradezone tomorrow as a group, leaving Capitol Hill around 9 am from around the Stadium Armory Metro (19th and Independence) and leaving enough time to get to the B race start at 10:30. It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm a little bit worried since there are 49 people registered but only 75 spots. We'll see how everything feels. The week has been good to me with training and I feel pretty great for February. HP lunch sessions have been good and the intensity has been up the legs should be ready for some pain.

But before that, Valentine's Day dinner and wine...


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pilgrimage to Sugarloaf

With UMD being canceled I think I'm going to organize a team ride out to Sugarloaf on that weekend. Get all the guys together to go loooong as a group before the season really kicks off.

The Route

I've done parts of it before, but never the whole thing. 80ish miles if we leave from Georgetown.


I dedicate this post to Luna Di Luna, Chardonnay Pinot Grigio....

I assume this is the best wine in the world because after two glasses I feel very warm and fuzzy and happy...even after a questionable day at the office. I recommend it.

Today at Hains Point. WINDY!!!!! Whoa. Big turnout too. I think DCVelo has some organized ride now at lunch...three days in a row I've seen them down there laying the hurt on all us under-cats. Also saw the Mayor out today looking strong. I like the fact that the Mayor of DC rides his bike at HP. Makes me feel good about living in the city.

Today's session of pain included text book race tactics. On the second lap going down the sprint side, Frick goes up the road and opens up a huge gap (that guy is really really strong). Another DCVelo guy attempts to bridge across (Young?), but ends up in limbo land half way between the group and Josh. For the next lap the main group is rotating pretty good, but nobody is really making a move to try to bring back the lone rider up the road. As we round the point and start heading towards the sprint line (with the wind coming left to right with a slight tail wind) the pace picks up and guys start drilling it. The pace picked up to the point that guys farther back started to pop and gaps started to open. I was towards the front going across the line, looked over my shoulder, saw about 6 to 10 guys with me that all lay down immense amounts of hurt on their own, so combined...this was going to hurt bad. There was no rest. We had closed the gap to Josh a bit, but not all the way, guys came around me and kept on going. I chased back on and looked back again and saw that the gap was significant to the next group. If this was a race, this was the "winning move". The next two laps were painful. I tried to hide when we were going into the wind (I was on the rivet and didn't want to pop), and took small pulls when the wind was at our back. I eventually popped once we caught Josh and the sprints started....too much horsepower in the harley/dcvelo legs...still felt pretty good about being able to hang on for as long as I did. Who knows, maybe "fast" will come this year?

Point of the story, make the effort to stay towards the front. Once the pace picks up, guys/gals are going to pop left and right. If you're stuck behind one of them, the effort to get back up to the front group might be too much to then have to hold onto the new increased pace. How much does it suck to chase onto a lead group and upon contact, have one of those mf-ers attack the group and just leave you in oxygen debt and alone on the road thinking about why you didn't make the effort early to stay with the leaders...

Funny how group rides in the MABRA region are "mini-races"....people think of group rides as these italian team rides where everybody rolls around shoulder to shoulder at 20 mph for 60 miles. No sir. Around here it is everyone for themselves until the last man is standing...wasn't me today, but I'll show up to fight another day. :)

Cheers and enjoy the is supposed to be in the 30s for Tradezone #1 this weekend. Yikes!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Case of the Mondays

Long time, but nobody is reading this thing anyway...

Hains Point today was good. Chuck, what seemed like the entire DCVelo contingency, and the regular crowd of hooligans all showed up. The first two laps were pretty mild and I was hoping for some easy turns of the pedals after a pretty good weekend of riding; 40 on Saturday and 60 on Sunday (first two day weekend ride of the season for me...left me beat). After two laps of some casual riding (think 16 to 18 mph), the pace quickened and the attacks started coming. Now, if any team has got "it" figured out when it comes to bike racing, it has to be DCVelo. Those guys get it. Send one guy up the road, when the chase happens, catch a free ride in the draft and counter upon contact...simple stuff, right? Even though I took a beating when I tried to chase one of them down and towed Ken Young to the line for an easy "win", it was fun to see Chuck take a little beating as well. At least twice he was nipped at the line by well played tactics. Its nice to know that no matter how strong you are, some organized guys can get together and play the cards right to beat you.

I read a cool article on Svein Tuft today. That guy was a wild one growing up. Worth a read and puts some character on a face that we'll probably see a lot of during the big races coming up.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Clean Drivetrain Secrets

I was on the cycleto website and came across this gem of a video on how to quickly and efficiently keep your drive train clean. I thought it was interesting:

Just pay some dude to follow you around all the time to clean your bike...sounds simple.