Saturday, February 28, 2009

Losing Focus

My goal for the season was racing either Nationals or Fitchburg in early July but now neither seems like it's going to happen, unless I want to be in some real hot water. That's pretty much left me without a training objective for the season, it's probably a good thing since I lost some fitness being down with a sinus infection but the past two weeks weren't very productive since Tradezone started up and I haven't been putting in the long rides on the weekend. Traedzone is fun, but not where my time should be spent right now, especially since I'm stuck trying to rework my schedule and find a new objective a bit later in the season to focus on.

My plan for today was to head out to Frederick for some hills but after realizing Jeff Cup and Walkersville, both 1/2/3 races, are right around the corner I decided on the Davidsonville ride this morning looking to get a hard, fast 3hrs in the legs. A lot of the hammers weren't there but the pace was still good and the ride hard, especially since I found myself on the front a lot. It also made me realize how jacked up my back is from my little fall last week. The last hour was horrible, it was difficult to pedal. This really sucks becasue I spent the last two years working out back issues and now here we go again. I just hope this is something that goesaway quickly.

With the need for more miles and a forecast of bad weather again tomorrow I'm going to skip TZ because the chance of doing both the A and the B races in wet weather is pretty low and one race just isn't enough.

I've had my fun, now it's time to refocus and not get caught up in this early season racing.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Peace Offering?

No, it's not what you think.

If you race in the Mid-Atlantic, you're probably familiar with racing in both Maryland, Northern Virginia and lower/central Pennsylvania (Lancaster/Philly area). If you've ever looked closely, you notice a major difference in the promotion of races in MD/NoVA versus central PA. In MABRAland races are put on by the clubs in the region not only for the sake of the sport, but to fulfill an obligation as a registered USCF cycling team, there is also the added fundraising component to putting on an event. Most teams do not actually make money on events, at least not a lot. Sometime we even lose money but it doesn't matter, that's not what's important. A lot of clubs in this area are dedicated to putting on great events like Poolesville, Giro di Coppi and our own Walkersville RR to name a few. Road race are expensive ventures, besides the basics like refs you also pay for a place to stage it, typically a school and police and EMT support. If you're lucky, they promoting club will have some form of wheel support, typically a volunteer driving his or her own car behing each race and then being reimbursed for gas. Let tell you, don't let your event run late because police overtime gets expensive.

In central PA however, the races are typically run by race promoters and not so much by clubs and is run as a business with intent to make money. The course a rather sub-par comparably and neutral wheel support, forget about it. I feel like I'm being treated as a comodity when I go there to race. If you've followed the race scene in PA long enough you've come to know two promoters, Rich Ruoff and David Butterworth of Red Rose Racing and Pro Am Cycling respectively. Over the years races have traded hands and sometimes a working business relationship but last year that finally came to a tumultuous end resulting in more than half of the usual race being canceled. In the end each had their own reasoning for the demise but as far as I can tell, the racing community has directed their angst at David, calling for a boycott of the races he did resurrect late in the season. All I can say to that is he scheduled a race the same day a Rich and his was canceled due to lack of registration. Well, I can tell you why I didn't register for any of his races, he didn't post a confirmed rider list, period. Why am I going to shell out $40 and not even know if there's anyone to race against then have to scramble to get to another race and hope I can get in?

So for 2009 both Rich and David are back promoting races (independently I should add) and looking to take advantage of me some more. My problem with both of these guys is they've raised their entry fees but I see no real "upgrade" to what they're giving me for my money, especially compared to a MABRA event. At least Rich isn't following suite and dropping his 3/4 and 35+ fields.

I guess in an effort to regain some support, David has sent out coupons to prior Pro-Am Cycling event participants labeled as "Travel Vouchers" offering you $10 off of your entry fee, good for the entire season. Well, considering he increased his entry fees I don't really see how he's helping me get to like him again.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Day in Belgium

This week was kind of shitty, the weather I mean. It was either raining or very windy which was fine because I had a relatively busy week with work forcing most of my workouts inside on the rollers. Expecting to have a good week on the bike, it started out really bad. Now that racing has semi-officially started with Tradezone, I'm thinking it's time to step it up a bit. My Wednesday workout was horrible, I felt like crap and barely finished it. A day's rest gave me the energy and the motivation to hit the same workout again with much better results. Of course the weather clears for a beautiful sunny day yesterday but I was planning another hard interval workout on the rollers before finishing it off with Tradezone today, hopefully.

Last night Gina and I went out to dinner at the Rumor Mill in downtown E.C. This was the second time we've eaten there and it's pretty good food that's reasonably priced. It helps that Gina picked up these gift certificates that basically give you a half price meal, and they include alcohol in that, very rare for a restaurant. They have tapas style menu consisting of American-Asian fusion. We decided to start out with a bottle of wine to make sure we made the required $ amount. I honestly can't remember the last time we went to dinner and split a whole bottle between just the two of us. Let's just say I was planning on not racing Tradezone today.

I woke up this morning with my tongue glued to the roof of my mouth from dehydration and expecting the ground to be covered with thin layer of snow with freezing rain coming down, but to my surprise it was clear out. Guess I was racing today. By the time I left the house it was sunny and relatively warm, after checking the weather report it looked like we may have a shot at a clear race. 20min later I'm halfway there and it's raining, go figure. Race flyer says canceled if rain, snow or sleet. Call a teammate who should already be at the race, he tells me he's heading home not wanting to race in the rain with a cold. Call HEF who calls the race hotline, no luck. Get to the race and it's a good 15-20 degrees colder than when I left the house.

I went ahead and signed up for both the A and B races. My warm up basically consisted of sitting in either the car or the port-o-john and I wasn't feeling great after two hard training days and a half bottle of wine. Today we had some serious numbers and a strong squad. On the start line HEF says he wants to go from the start, I think ok, let's do it. Of course, for the second week in a row, Amy, Kyle's wife, manage to snap a shot of me on the start line yawning. It's my psych out technique, it's all I got.
As soon as the whistle blew, HEF was off. He got a quick gap on the field and I closed to his wheel hoping to help launch him on the backside after coming out of the wind. He pulled about halfway to the second turn before I came through and pulled the rest of the lap. We never really pulled away from the field bu we certainly split it up early. I can't remember if it was the second or third lap but we had just been caught but were still on the front when our new teammate Stephen launched a counter attack that opened up a huge gap. HEF had the legs to bridge up to him while I was content to stay in the pack and disrupt anything that tried to chase it down. This is where shit went wrong. The first couple of laps I had been leading through turn 2 where there was a poor attempt at cleaning up an oil spill. This is the trickier of the three turns on the course and the oil and rain made it worse. I made the mistake of coasting through the turn and not pedaling. Not pedaling causes you to not apply force to the rear wheel which in turn gives you no traction. In a split second my rear wheel washed out and I was on my ass sliding across the road. Fortunately I didn't take anyone out and was able to roll down to the start/finish and rejoined the race.

As I waited to rejoin, Stephen, HEF and an NCVC guy go by with a nice gap to a 2 man chase which had a gap on the field. After rejoining the race, we quickly grabbed up the two chasers who seemed to have cut bait on the windy backside. A lap or two later we picked up the NCVC guy who couldn't keep up with HEF and Stephen. For the rest of the race Kyle and I pretty much shut down any and every attempt to organize a chase. At some point it started raining, freezing rain. I was wearing wool gloves which just soaked up the cold water. At one point I couldn't tell if my shifter was broken or I just wasn't feeling it in the first place to shift, that was about the time my Harden the F*#& Up meter hit 11.

Me hitting the deck early probably helped HEF and Stephen because no one wanted to go through the turn at speed and they were gaining about 5sec a lap, if the race were a few laps more they would have lapped us. With 4 or 5 to go I tried to get a break going with two NCVC guys but they each took one pull and blew themselves up after a lap, should have known better. Maybe spend more time racing than posing for the camera.
Last lap I just kept the pace as hard as possible on the long stretch before the final turn trying to set up Kyle or HEF1 for the sprint. Unfortunately I blew up just before the turn but had the field strung out enough that the other Kyle (Pittman) was able take the sprint with Kyle (Jones) a spot or two behind him.
Stephen and HEF crossing the line, apparently no coordination resulted in an intra-squad sprint, HEF let him have it. 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th for day isn't bad. After the race I was so cold I was shaking uncontrollably. With no dry clothing or gloves to change in to, HEF and I bagged the A race while Stephen lasted two laps before pulling out for lack of feeling in his hands and arms. We opted for some coffee and grub at Atlanta Bread Company. As I'm sitting here my lower back is really sore, I guess that means a massage this week and maybe a trip to Life Fitness to see if Matt can hook me up with some heat and stym.

Thanks to Amy Jones for hanging out in the freezing rain to take photos!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Mid February in the Mid-Atlantic means only one thing, the racing season has descended upon us, or at least those few hardcore enough to think racing in 30 degree temps is actually fun. The past few weeks haven't been great with getting on the bike, between work and illness I haven't logged too many miles and my meat and potatoes workout Friday night was more SPAM than prime rib leaving me a bit nervous about throwing a leg over my bike in anger this weekend.

I decided I would go ahead and give it a go at Tradezone today. I registered for the B race with the intent of also racing the A if my legs felt good. Having not raced much on the road lat year, I'm at a loss as to who is hot and who is not. All I knew is that a while back my teammate Kyle said Route 1 Velo was putting together a formidable Cat3 squad. Well, if that was their squad we went up against today, then I don't think we're going to be too worried although right now we do lack a top notch sprinter. To make a long story short, we dominated the race, Kyle and I patrolled the from the start launching attacks, chasing down breaks or just generally putting a hurt on the field. It's a great thing when you take a hard pull, ook back to see the field strung out then for laughs flick the arm for someone to pull through and no one can. I seem to remember that several times and it was always a couple of Route 1 guys looking at each other.

Close to midway through the race we ended up setting up HEF for a break. No sooner did I ask him if he wanted me to reel in a small break up the road and he said "no, not yet", did Kyle roll up next to me, smile and say "let's go". Kyle shut down the break, I pulled through to keep the pace up and HEF launched an attack that brought two others with him. At that point Kyle, Lance and I just controlled the pace letting them build up a lead. I really thought he had it but the combination of a prime lap ramping up the chase and the rest of the break blowing up around him, about 6 laps later and HEF was left to either attempt to stay away solo for 6 more laps or go back, sit in and rest up for the sprint. He opted for sitting up and waiting. Kyle and Lance both tried solo fliers but nothing stuck so it was down to the sprint. I got filtered back in the pack before the final turn and tried going wide but had to scrub a lot of speed to keep from ending up in the median but still manage to salvage it for a top 10 finish while HEF pulled out 4th after narrowly avoiding being taken out by the 3rd place rider who deciced he needed to sweep from left to right just before the line for no apparent reason. He actually clipped the wheel of the rider in front of me who miraculously managed to not dump it going 35mph. That would not have been a good way to start the season.

Not really feeling like I had raced or really even ridden, I decided to do the A race but unfortunately registration had closed. Maybe next week. Otherwise I fell pretty good about today, it wasn't a taxing race, my recovery between hard efforts was good, just need to start working in the intensity. Today was also a good test of the team, even though it was just a couple of us I think we clicked pretty well for this early in the season and things can only get better.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Rub

Damn, February already. Well, so much for posting more often. Let's see, so what happened in January? Besides Maddy going from crawling to almost running in the span of a week, she's expanded her vocabulary to include the words stinky, cheese, diaper (always preceded by daddy), doggie (as opposed to deedaw which is now Boulder) and uh oh spaghetti O (seriously yes, she can say that). She's also started throwing a few fits during mealtime. Most of her problem stems around wanting anything Gina or I have to eat and does she let you know.

Unfortunately for me my grandmother passed away earlier in the month. Unlike my grandfather, we were prepared for this and it wasn't as hard to take. I'm also still dealing with this pesky sinus infection. After a round of amoxicilan I ended up back at the doctor only to be prescribed a stronger antibiotic, avelox. The first week on it wasn't bad, but still training and putting in a hard week, I found I just wasn't recovering very well and that culminated with an unplanned week off the bike. To add to it, a followup visit this past week to the doctor resulted in another 7 days on this stuff.

Seeing that it went from being in the high 20's/low 30's for the daily high to in the 50's today, I had to go out and ride. Wasn't quite sure how the legs were going to feel after a week off the bike but they felt pretty good, albeit a sore. I was out with my teammate Mike C and as we were tooling around Sykesville trying to intercept a group ride, we come across a guy walking his black lab on the opposite side of the road. The guy has the dog on a 15ft retractable leash and the dog is using up all 15ft, mind you he's walking along a major road with no shoulder and his dog had 15ft of leash to roam on. Well, as we pass by him the next thing I know his dog, a bit unfriendly for a lab, is acorss the road growling at us pressing both Mike and I almost off the road. All of this and a car was about to pass us from behind. With no regard for his dog's safety let alone ours, the guy makes no attempt to pull his dog out of the road before it either bites one of us or is taken out by a car. Being somewhat infuriated at this I utter something to the effect of "nice job jackass", not really expecting it to be in earshot of the guy but apparently it was. He started yelling something back but it just earned him the 1 finger salute. Moron.

He's probably one of the same idiots that was out driving in the bad weather we had earlier in the week. Obama is right, prople in the DC area a retarded when it comes to dealing with winter weather, ok, maybe he didn't use the word retarded. I had the misfortune of having to drive to Herndon both Tuesday and Wednesday. I dread this drive even in the best of conditions. I lost count of the number of assholes driving slow in the left lane, holding up traffic only to find that they are also yapping away on their cell phones. Look, if you're afraid to go out in this weather then stay at home. If you are afraid to drive in bad weather but must go out, then stay out of the left lane and put your cell phone somewhere you can't reach it. It will make it safer for everyone trying to dodge you braking and swerving all over the road.

Karma or just a bit of what comes around goes around? Gina lost her iPod Shuffle in the locker room of the Y. Obviously someone picked it up and apparently didn't think to ask at the main desk on their way out if there was a lost and found they could leave it at. A day or two later at the grocery store I'm using the self checkout. I always pay with the bank card but happened to look down and the most inconveniently placed cash return and noticed someone had forgotten to take their change, turned out to be $15. For the entire time I checked out I debated the situation I was in, walk the money over to the conveniently located service desk that I would pass by on my way out and turn it in or, keep it as a down payment on a new iPod Shuffle?

Did I tell you Gina got a new Shuffle the other day? She's upset they no longer make it in purple.