Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Where The Fuck Have You Been?

This is kind of a mish-mash of a post, but I've been busy the past few weeks with planning a 50th anniversary party, trying to get my third floor apartment in Manchester rented, and stuff that I actually get paid to do. But here's what's happening.

I was thrilled to see a Tour De France special that didn't involve Lance Armstrong. The Sundance channel played a program called "Blood, Sweat, and Gears: racing Clean to the Tour De France" last night.

It's about the history of the Team Garmin/Slipstream, and their bid to get a spot in the tour. It isn't that I don't like lance, I am in fact a lance fan, it's just that there isn't nearly enough coverage of the other americans in the race. I haven't had the chance to watch all of it, but the first 20 minutes or so were pretty good. I'll have to force my wife to watch it to get a perspective of a non-cyclist.

The party last weekend went off pretty well. In case you haven't been reading, my parents 50th wedding anniversary party was last week end. I held it at the Phoenix Room in Newburyport.

I hired a string quartet to play baroque and chamber music for the first half, a folk duo (the Ayotte Brothers) to play folk songs from the 60's and 70s for the second half, then wrapped it up with a performance of "Seasons of Love" from Rent by the First Religious Society Choir of Newburyport, and a finale of "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" by Green Day, with one of the Ayottes on guitar/ vocals, and a friend of mine and me accompanying on violin and flute. The Ayotte brothers were quite good, with a very wide repitoire and exceptional harmonies.

So now I'm back to being able to focus a bit more on training, even though I still have to get my 3rd floor apartment rented - meaning I'll have to re-arrange my schedule for showings. I fucking hate that house, and I hate being a landlord.

Even still, I managed to get some riding in last week, I stuck to straight commuting, just for the mental balance, and of course it rained pretty much on every ride. Last wedensday, as I was preparing to leave work, I found I had a flat tire. Now, Last year I blogged about wearing tires out. After that post I bought a set of my favorite commuter tires, Panaracer Stradius Pro. Well, lo and behold, This is what I found when I went to remove the tire.

If you can't tell from the photos, There's a lot of cord showing. I'm talking, like 50% of the circumference of the tire. Those are actually three _different_ sections of the tire. The flat was a puncture as opposed to a pinch flat. Now, As already noted, I've had at least a dozen flats already this year. Really, I'm not kidding. So it isn't as if I haven't been paying attention to the condition of the tires. This happened rather quickly, sometime in the past couple of weeks. So, I repair the tire, and note how much cord is showing, and think I should really take it easy on the way home, easy spin up hills, no sprinting for lights or truck drafts, keep the power to rear wheel smooth, so as not to wear through the cord.

I get outside, clip my right foot in, and push off slightly with my left foot and hear


I look down, and half of the sole of my shoe has separated from the upper.

I stuck a roll of tape in the gap to show how far the sole ripped off. The dark and light grey patches are where I've used epoxy in the past. My theory is, the shoe has been wet for so long, that the fibers of the upper (some type of processed leather) finally got saturated enough to detach themselves from the epoxy.

Now, these shoes don't owe me a fucking thing. Northwave Team somethingorothers. I bought them in 1997 for $180. Amortized, that's $18 a year. I probably have 50,000 miles on them, if not more. They've been crashed quite a few times, and repaired. I repair them with JB weld epoxy. It forms a great seal, is waterproof, and very rigid. Their ad suggests it can be used to repair engine parts, and is strong enough to be drilled and tapped. But, after ten years and then riding in the rain for a week, I'm not surprised. It isn't the epoxy that's failing, it's the fabric/material in the upper. The last epoxy repair I did was over two years ago, and I had noticed that it was starting to separate again a few weeks ago. I'll give it another repair, What the hell, if they fall apart again, I'll think about some new shoes. I have three other pairs of road shoes, anyways.

Of course, this made the ride home _extra_ interesting, since I could put no upward pressure on the left side. Hey, things could have been worse......

Besides, Solo ain't got nothin on me for wearing shit out.

Oh, one last thing. My wife retired. She's worked for the various iterations of verizon for the past 23 years. They're reducing headcount, and asked for volunteers on the idea of early retirement. If she leaves now, they'll give her the entire retirement package she would have been eligible for had she stayed the extra 14 months. She'll end up with about a years salary, health benefits for as long as they offer them, plus her retirement pension - lets just say we could live off that for years to come.

Here's the kicker - Verizon is famous for double dipping. In 6 months she'll be eligible to go back as a contractor, getting a contractor wage, while still drawing benefits from the pension system, and as a contractor if they tell her she needs to stay late to do some project she can say no.

Long ago, there was a singer songwriter by the name of Mason Williams, who had a very quirky sense of humor - he used to work with Steve Martin in the 60s on the Smothers Brothers show.

He Wrote - "Once there was a man who worked at the same company for 25 years, and never missed a day. When he retired, they had a party and gave him a gold watch. Just imagine that wondrous watch. Being able to see the last 25 years of his life at a glance, while letting him watch the rest of it run out".

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Baby's Day Out

I haven't ridden a real time trial in almost two years. Sure, I done the duatlhons, but I mean a real, start-off-with-a-holder-set-off-in-intervals time trial

I've been toying with the idea of riding a weekly course myself, using the old boxford course that nebc used to run in the 90's. After reading a couple of Solobreaks posts on the charlie baker time trial, I decided to give it a go, especially since they actually track and place fixed gear results. I love riding time trials on a fixed gear.

So, tuesday night I gave the Kellogg frame with Mavic Challenger disk wheel and 52x16 the once over.

Wednesday I went to the time trial. I haven't ridden this course in maybe 12 years. It hasn't changed much thanks to concord and carlisles zoning restrictions (aka snob zoning).

The guy parked next to me had a fan loader he was warming up on. Damn those things are noisy. How the hell could he stand it? An old friend came by to chat and we had to raise our voices to hear each other, this was _out_ side.

I met a few people I hadn't seen in well over ten years. There were alot more women there than in the past, more people in general than when I used to ride it. A few on the women were quite cute, especially all in their matching NEBC skin suits. Karen Smyers of IronMan Triathlon and cancer survivng fame was also there, as was Skip Foley.

I was rider #46,they had 57 that night. Taking my place on the line, I didn't quite get my pedals set right. Big deal, that might cost me all of one second. I decided not to worry about it.

From 'go', I launched a rolled the 52x16 up to speed. I came right up to 100 rpm, and spun it past up to 110. I noticed my speed read 0. It occured to me that was the one thing I didn't check the night before. My cadence monitor was working, and that is what I was using as the main metric anyways. After the TT I found out the wheel magnet was missing.

The first mile is uphill, but not what one would call a climb. More like a 1% grade. In the old days when the finish was at the top of this rise, it felt like a climb. That was when we did the full loop of 10.8 miles. Now this rise in the first few miles, so it's no big deal. I was keeping a cadence of over 100 all the way, dropping to 90 at the crest. I was feeling pretty good, better than I thought I would. Then a rider came by, flying, Some cars were passing me slower than this dude. he wasn't my 30 second or minute man, I knew both of them, I didn't know this guy, he had to be 1:30 behind me, at least.

I plugged on, still feeling good.

Then I took the right turn onto monument street - it instantly felt like I had hit the brakes. I didn't think there was any wind, and it didn't feel like a head wind, but that would explain why I felt so good heading out.

I was struggling to keep my cadence up at this point. This section is significantly more rolling than the first half. In the early 90's they had moved the start/finish up to carlisle center, so this section was only a couple of miles in. Now that it was at the end, it was more troublesome. Still, pushing the fixed gear over these hills was easier than a regular road bike. Going over the last hill I kept my cadence at 70, not too bad.

From the top of the last hill it's downhill all the way to the finish, except for the last 100 feet or so that goes up to the line. Not having ridden this in over a decade, I held back a little. It may have cost me a couple of seconds, but I wasn't too worried about it. I crossed the line in 23:50, for an average of 24.5 mph. I was quite happy with that. I had gone into it hoping I would break 24 minutes,and I did so.

I have a season goal of breaking 26 mph average on the fixed gear. I think it's do able!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Runners Gone Wild!!

It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, the maid screamed! A shot rang out!!!!

ok, knock it off.

But it _was_ a pretty dismal week. I hadn't gone for a run since memorial day weekend, and I hadn't gone for a ride since the Auburn Debacle. Clearly, the most entertaining aspect of the week was plagiarizing Charles Schultzes' "It Was A Dark and Stormy Night".

Anyways, the weather of saturday was fucking fabulous, so I decided to go run a cheesy little 5k race in Byfield for their 'Byfield Days' celebration. Still no results on cool running.

It was a ten mile ride, with a slight headwind the whole way. The weeks inactivity weighed heavily on my quads, disconcertingly so. I got there in plenty of time to pre-ride the course. No surprises, I'm familiar with the area. Pretty flat, one small hill just before the two mile mark, rough roads.

I registered for the race, and the first thing I noticed was the release form. It was a 3x6 sheet of paper, no standard indemnity release, and four age groups. Under 15, 15 to 18, 18 to 25, and over 25.

Yes, over 25. Looking at the field, all of 50 people,the last age range encompassed 40 of us.
One couple had ridden down from salisbury on their their touring bikes. These bikes looked like they had been across the country a dozen times. Old beat to shit cannnondales, panniers, farings, mirrors, etc. The guy from the couple looked at my Merlin and said"hmmm, merlin, never heard of it". Oh well, they were a nice couple.

I _was_ impressed by the few hot fit women, way more than the sample size would have suggested. Two young fit college female athletes, and two milf-ish looking women.

Anyways, the race started and several people took off like rabbits. Normally, you get a few that bolt away, but there were about ten guys in front of me, running _very_ fast. As we rounded the corner in the first 1/4 mile, the lead runners had already put a good 15-20 seconds on me.

We passed the mile mark, and the lead runner was long gone. I clocked 5:55. This section of the course had a good few hundred yards, and I could see the second place runner way in the distance, I checked him at a sign post, he had 40 seconds on me. Damn, these guys were fast! I slowed my pace, I didn't go there to set a PR, and wasn't at a fitness level to support that pace for two more miles.

I had caught up to one of the college chicks. She was the lead woman, and went out very fast. She was built very much like a short distance runner, and wasn't pacing her self very well. Now, she wasn't as hot as Allison Stokke, but she was built like Allison Stokke, and one could easily imagine her hanging out with Allison Stokke, she was that cute. I didn't mind her wanting to be in front of me.

I passed her just before the mile mark, and she overtook me again on the only hill on the course. We passed the two mile mark in 12:20. Since at that point, there were only a few of us within sight of each other, she was using me to pace. As I would catch her, she would accelerate and put 20 feet or so on me. This happened a few times. We ended up catching three more people before in the last mile. Coming into the finish, I made move to coming around the young hottie, but once again, she kicked out a sprint and finished ahead of me.

I finished 11th, 19:36, about a 6:19 pace. That was actually a pretty good time for me considering I hadn't run in two weeks. The winning time was around 17:30, and I heard the winner say he ran the first mile in 5:08. Everyone in the first 8 places ran a sub 6 pace. Remember, there were only 50 or so entrants

Fast. Very Fast.

The ride home was quick and much more relaxed. Tailwind this time. I got home, and felt like soaking in the sun. I pretty much hung out by my pool and drank beer. I'm glad I did, saturday was the only nice day out of the past week.

Party On.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Another Lost Opportunity

There are several very good races here in new england. One of them is the Auburn Road Race in Auburn Maine. An 11 mile circuit, with 5 short super steep little climbs, the kind you just punch your way over. The road surface is generally good but choppy in spots, very little traffic and even less settlement. Climbers do well on this course but it isn't really a climbers course. Very fit all-arounders and TT specialists can do well here since the hills are short. Orchards, swamps, and scenic vistas - if you're not racing the views and terrain are beautiful.

This race is only three years old but replaces the previous iteration in the same area. The old race was an 11 mile circuit with 1100 feet of climbing per lap, with several very steep 1/4 - 1/2 mile climbs. The downhills were steep and twisty as well, and dangerous. I left alot of skin there one year after losing it on a downhill corner doing well over 40. Still, I liked the race, but it was very hard, and people basically stopped going.

The new course is much easier. I raced it the first year they had it, and broke my chain on the second lap (out of 5).

The weather was fabulous. 70's, bright sun, slight tailwind into the slight uphill finish. The start is at the top of the finish hill, and heads immediately into a high 40s mph downhill, followed right away by the first short steep climb, then followed by another downhill, this one over a mile long and easy to keep a 30 mph speed even into the slight headwind.

One rider took off at the top of this long downhill on the first lap, about one mile into the 56 mile race.

Fine, let him go. If he stays away, he deserves it.

The second time up that steep climb, Local Hero Tyler Munroe attacks. I was behind another local luminary Joe Rano, when he accelerated to go with tyler. I stayed on his wheel up the hill to the crest, then shifted into my big ring for the long downhill.

oops, lets try that again.

I stayed on his wheel up the hill to the crest, then shifted into my big ring for the long downhill.

shifted into my big ring



fucking thing wouldn't go onto the big ring. I watch as rano, tyler, abramson, and another guy pull away, soft pedaling and using every bit of my hand strength to shove the shift the left paddle to force the chain into the big ring. FUCK! I'm riding a 53/39 12x23. No way I'm going to be able to spin a 39x12 downhill to get those guys. As I'm fucking with the shifter, others start to come by. Finally, I get the chain on the big ring. Too late. They're gone. With a CCB, Gearworks, an OA cycles in the break, and two guys from each team blocking, they're gone, especially with pretty much a local who's who in the break.


fuckity fucking fuck.


Finally, I make the right move, at the right time, with the fitness to back it up, and it slips away.

Now, I'm not saying I would have won, I'm not even saying that I would have been able to stay with the break. Knowing who was in it, there's a good likely hood that I would have been dropped anyways, but shit. This is one of those chances I don't get too often.

Riding on the hopes that there would have been a reasonable chase, I left the chain on the big ring. I was able to slug out the hills in my 53x23, but wouldn't be able to go with any hard accelerations. I gave a number of chases, attacked a few times to get the pack moving, worked with a couple guys riding alone as well as a couple of sunapee guys (they missed the break), but with 6 guys blocking......wasn't gonna happen.

Heading up to the finish with one lap to go, some stupid fucking fred standing on the side of the road in a day glo jersey announces "a minute 45, you guys are done". We were just up over the last steep pitch in the circuit and going maybe 8 miles an hour. The whole pack heard him. I yelled back:


I've never heard so many guys laughing and wheezing at the same time before.

I ended up about 12th or so. I felt as good in this race as I have in any race. At least I think my fitness is good, now i need to wait for that magic alignment of fitness, luck, sound decision making, and everyone else to totally fuck up, and I should be good.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Busy Little Beaver

I can't believe how fucking swamped I am these days

I'm just finishing off a slight remodeling of the attic for my daughters new bedroom. Next on the list is to start repainting my 3000 sq ft 100 yo house.

I have two 'critical' projects at work. One is a thermal accuracy and resolution test for a series of new source/measurement products (across the published temperature range) due on monday (ain't gonna make it) and the other is to build a sample system that demonstrates our products ability to function in the event of a fire (for a UL certification) which needs to be complete by the end of the year. The last time we did this it took 18 months, though they only started the project 2 months ago.

My apartment building needs to have the 3rd floor gone through after the last tenants moved out, and typical repairs/maintenance such as complete cleaning of the bathroom kitchen, holes in walls repaired (horse hair plaster), broken screens windows, light bulbs, etc. This in addition to posting ads and screening for new tenants, as well as the rest of the usual care for the property.

My parents 50th wedding anniversary is in 3 weeks. I've had to hire a caterer, send out invitations, reserve a function room, and hire entertainment - I've hired a string quartet and hooked up with a local church choir to come in and sing 'Seasons Of Love' from the play Rent. I have a solo guitar player hired to play stuff from the 60's after the quartet. I have a violinist friend coming and we will be accompanying him on Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) by green day with me on flute (betcha didn't know that I'm a classically trained flautist and had considered a professional career). I also absconded with my parents collection of 8 mm movies from their younger days to have them converted to DVD.

This past wednesday I was informed by the catering service that the room I picked for the function has changed their policy about entertainment - they no longer allow it. I had to scramble to find another venue but was successful. I'll have my house completely full of people to stay the night after the party (all four spare bedrooms full, yeah, I have a big old farmhouse, refer to the painting project above).

I'm trying to keep my training/racing schedule up. If I wasn't able to commute I wouldn't bother racing this year. Still, I'll have to bag the BOB road race on june 27th, since that's the day of the anniversary party.

Back to work, my boss only allows so many excuses.