Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Ass Hurts

Well, results from the rye-by-the-sea duathlon are already up, so I might as well get the story straight. The duathlon is two 5K runs and a 17 mile bike. The reports I had heard said it was quite flat, and the run was a big square circuit. The course maps bore out the previews.

There was a reasonable turnout - 179, and the weather was turning out for the better, considering what a shitty week it was. Everything was coming together smoothly. I felt decent, the bike was dialed in, the weather was great, ~ 70 and no wind at race time.

The gun went off, and I decided to stay with the leaders until the herd thinned out. They started both the duathletes and the 5K runners together, so you didn't know if the guys bolting off the front were your competition or not. I stayed with the top ten for about the first 1/2 mile, then dialed it back, and found a comfortable pace, Had I been running just the 5K, I would have stayed with the leaders, and I'm not bragging but I don't think I would have had much trouble. I knew though, that there were a lot of people running just the 5K so I decided to pace myself.
As we were running, I started to realize that the run wasn't what was on the map. We were on the paved road for some time, well beyond where I thought we should have turned left. Indeed, at the one mile point we turned into the woods.


OK, this is nothing like what I expected, and nothing like this course map. You'll see the map shows the run being a big rectangle, while we did something like a Dali interpretation.

I clicked off the first mile in 5:58, and now I was running downhill on an old farm path. Someone behind me quipped 'gee,ya think they would have mowed this'. It turned out to be one of the lesser obstacles, as this turned into a muddy rooty twisty walking trail (nice new england double track), that doubled back upon itself a few times with lots of tight turns before crossing two wooden walking bridges, then emptying into a field well past the two mile mark. In spots the mud was ankle-deep. I have the muddy shoes to prove it. Had I known that we were going to be off road for the majority of the run, I would have used my trail shoes. They would have helped a lot, I lost footing several times and slid out, but never lost my balance. Others were not so lucky. The course was technical enough that, even if it were dry, trail shoes would have been a big help.
In the muddy morass I managed a 2nd mile time of 6:50, passing a number of people along the way. In the remaining 1.1 miles, there was a short section of pavement followed by two equally distant trps back and forth across an adjacent field. I figured I was running in about 20th spot. At least the whole of the third mile was flat and dry. In the last few hundred yards there was a short steep run up, and the guy in front of me ended up on his hands and knees on the trail. I run off-road a lot, and actually prefer it to running on pavement, so when he hit the deck I took a couple of quick steps to the side and went around him. I was a little surprised that he lost his footing, but then, I run in muck all the time.

Here's where the race went south. The transition went well, and I ran out of the area, classic cyclocross re-mount, started pedaling...what the saddle dropped. It was fine when I rode it on the trainer on thursday, it was fine on the ride from parking lot to the transition area, but now I hit the saddle and it drops.....I reset it after the race, it had dropped a good 30mm.

So now I have a 17 mile TT to ride with my seat 1 1/4 inches low. It wasn't so bad at first, since the first 4+ miles are predominantly downhill, but turning south along the coast for the flat section my hamstrings really started to tighten up. By the time I turned back inland, up the hill, I was just managing to keep 21 mph.

I passed 3 guys right away, then caught up to some guy on a full carbon Kuota. He had a knack on the downhills, but flailed horribly on every small rise. We traded spots all the way until the flat coast road where I gapped him for good, or so I thought. I passed one more guy on the coast road. Since I was tightening up badly, Mr. Kuota came back on me just before the uphill section, bringing three guys with him. I still ditched them on the climb, but two of them caught me just at the transition. One beat me out of the transition, and the another passed me in the first mile of the second run.

The bike times are a bit off, since they included _both_ transitions in the time. I don't have the fastest transitions, so it says my bike pace was 21.25 mph,while my computer said it was 22.2. Granted, nothing to brag about.

Once I started running, the effect of the bad position really made itself known. I couldn't stretch my legs out for the first 1/2 mile or so, my quads and glutes were extremely tight, way tighter than any other 2nd transition I can remember.

They ran us in the opposite direction for the second run, so I'm not sure of my splits (no mile markers). I kept the last guy to past me in sight all the way until we got back onto the road, about a mile from the finish, so he never got more the 15 seconds ahead, since the trail was never straight enough to see further ahead than that. Heading back up the farm road, a group of equestrians had decided to take a morning ride. There were four of them, and they had spread out across the entire trail, heading against the runners. They guy in front of me actually had to run off the trail to get around them.

Horse rant

What the fuck is it with you fucking equestrians? Where do you get the idea that all must yield to your spoiled pets? You keep ranting about how fucking smart your 1200 pounds of lethal weapon are, but you never manage to get them to let you know when they have to shit. I've encountered horses on the trail and road countless times, and more often than not the horse spooks at the sight of a bicycle. Hey, if I'm out walking my dog and it attacks someone on a bike, I'm held liable and my dog may even get put down. But, if your horse rears up because you can't fucking control it, it's somehow _my_ fault? Tell ya what you snooty-assed motherfuckers, Teach your horse to let you know when it has to shit, so you can pull it off the trail or road to drop a 25 pound turd rather than making everyone else walk/ride around it if thy're so fucking smart. And while you're at it teach not to be afraid of a bicycle.

end horse rant

I yelled at the horsie girls (they were all women, of course) "you might want to reconsider, there's 150 people behind me, I'm not kidding"

"we'll be ok" one said back.

Hey douchebag, it's not _you_ I'm worried about, it's the guy who has to get up and work tomorrow that your stupid fucking horse rears up and clocks the guy in the head because you're too fucking arrogant to realize you shouldn't be trying to ride a horse down a narrow walking path against the direction of 150 people running a race.

ok, end horse rant for real.

I got passed by one more guy just as we hit the pavement, and held that position to the end, though I had one more guy so close I could hear him breathing and outsprinted him at the end.
9th overall (out of 200), won my age group (and got a shiny gold medal!!), and managed to keep my streak of never finishing off the podium in a multi-sport event alive.

I have to say, even with the initial problem running at the beginning of the second run, I felt better than I've ever felt in a 2nd run,but I'm still dubious about the time trialing, even with the mechanical issue. I really though I was going to complete the ride in closer to 45 minutes, so I'm a bit disappointed in that.

And as of the time I posted this entry, my ass still hurts.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's like shootin' pool

I drove down to my my teams race on staurday, the Stafford Springs Raceway Cyclonauts Criterium. I hadn't committed to race. I had spoke with my captain and president, and let them know I would defer to working the race instead of racing if they needed me. As it ended up, my captain insisted that I race the 45+, and signed me up for the 3/4 event as well.

The early morning rain had cleared by the time I arrived. The sun had come out, and though the air was cool it was good racing weather. Lining up for the 45+ were almost 50 riders. This was to be the first criterium on the new Scott CR1, so I was a little on edge about it. The speedway circuit isn't exactly technical, but at least we had the benefit of a little chicane on one end of the 1/2 mile oval, (right after the finish line) to help break things up, otherwise it would have been _really_ boring. This speedway is in great shape. The pavement is good all the way around,, the shoulders are smooth and level with the track, and there are no speed bumps on the inside like at Star speedway where BOB has their points race. Even if you roll into the grass here, it's firm enough for you to keep your speed and nudge your way back onto the track.

Eric Marro of BOB went from the gun. He went out for about ten of 40 laps by himself, never getting more than 15 seconds. As he was brought back a group of 4 with my teammate mike malone went off for maybe another ten laps or so, again not getting very far. After that break came back, Mark Thompson (sunapee) rolled off the front, and established a decent gap pretty quickly. A few laps later Bill sawyer (gearworks) made a move as well. I was moving to the front at the time, and bill popped right out in front of me and gave it the gas. I stayed with him, and we very quickly put ten seconds on the field. we traded pulls for a couple laps before another group of three bridged up to us, containing craig harrison (sunapee), marro, and mike bernard (gearworks). We started working the break, and, except for harrison who was blocking for thompson, we managed to put together a decent gap on the field. Thompson stayed out in front, maybe 10-15 seconds, and if not for harrisons efforts we may have caught him.

But, we didn't. The field wasn't too intent on chasing, and the break was motivated enough to stay away. With three laps to go, somehow eric pierce (bethel) managed to escape the field and bridge up to us. He must have really put the hammer down for less than two laps, because he came up very suddenly. He got to the front with two to go, and Marro yelled at him that harrison was blocking. Pierce was strong enough to haul us all the way around again for an entire lap. I knew we would stay away at that point, so I had already taken a rest lap with three to go, and got another free lap on two to go. Coming out of the chicane I was in a really good spot - last in line. Just as we got back on the oval, Marro was in 4th spot with harrison on his wheel, and he jumped way to the outside. I'm not sure where my head was at right then, but it sure wasn't paying attention to the race. It took me more than a few pedal strokes to make up my mind, and by then the sprint had started. I had to close a 3/4 length gap left by the marro/harrison move, and just made it onto bernards wheel when we came into the finishing straight - too late. I managed to move up alongside bernard, and I could see pierce to my left, we were all within a wheel of each other. I'm sure I was less than a bike length behind harrison who took the sprint.

It's frustrating, humiliating, and demoralizing to finish last in a break, especially when it was set up so perfect for me. I'm quite ambivalent about my performance. I'm quite happy that I helped establish a successful break since that doesn't happen very often - like ever, and I thought I played it pretty well right up to the finish. I was on my limit for most of the break, and if there was more power with us I may not have been able to stay in, but, there wasn't, and I did. Still, after 20+ years of bike racing you'd think I would learn to be more attentive to attacks with 500 meters to go.

It's just like shooting pool. I know how to do it. I know how I should strike the cue to hit the target ball at what angle, using the proper english to leave the cue set up for the next shot, I can tell you what I want to do, and tell you how to do it. the problem is with actually _doing_ it. I know where I need to be when setting up for a sprint, and when I should make my move. But when I'm in the line and my HR is at 99%, the process doesn't always follow through.

Well, tonight are the tuesday night fights, and saturday I'm supposed to do the rye beach duathlon. At least in the duathlon I won't have to worry about setting up for a sprint finish.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Yeah, ten fucking days.....The blog is sleeping, I'm not. I've had a shitload of things going on, blogging gets bumped.

I'll be back.

Monday, May 11, 2009

my legs hurt, so I stopped...

Such were the immortal words uttered by the immutable Danny Callen one early spring training ride 15 years ago. Danny wasn't a climber but he could hang with the cat 3 pack at Killington. We were waiting for him at the top of a very small climb, and he rode up a few minutes later. When asked what happened, he said "my legs hurt, so I stopped..."

The weather was promising for the Sterling road Race - temps pushing 80, humid, over cast. I rode down with The Indomitable Duane Skofield again, in the Magic Bus of Doom. It's best to not listen too carefully to the bus as it moves....kinda scary, some of the noises coming out of the thing....

We parked in front of paul curley, new englands second most hated bike racer. There was space in front of and behind paul, and he parked directly in front of a fire hydrant. Fucking typical.

Prepping for the weather, We New Englanders aren't quite prepared for summer conditions the first week in may. We're too skeptical that it might end up snowing. Duane had packed a light wicking base layer to wear under his kit. At the race, he put the thing on, then called my attention to it.

"Jay, what's wrong with this?"

It wasn't a wicking base layer, it was his teenage daughters cotton t-shirt. He looked liked a caricature of Men On Film from In Living Color, except a lot more ugly. He wore it anyways.

After laughing so hard I thought I wouldn't be able to race because of stomach spasms, we finally got our shit together. I rolled up to the start line with plenty of time to spare, next to my old friend Bangin Billy Bad Balls Bigring Cassaza aka The Marlboro Man (he won marlboro three years straight). I took a swig from my bottle and immediately spewed it on the ground. Billy asked "is that your bottle I smell?" Sure enough, it was. Turns out Duane had an identical bottle to mine in his van, that had obviously been there for several months and started life as an energy drink. I'm not sure what life form it was now, but it certainly was toxic. I tossed the whole bottle in the trash.

Getting back to the start, I notice in front of me an old Softride bike, the kind with the big carbon seat beam. Softrides aren't USAC legal - strike one. The rider was wearing a generic red jersey with a pair of goofy white compression socks up to his knees - strike two. Now, I'm not one to check out guys asses (to quote Kinneson - "How does one guy look at another guys hairy ass and find love?"), but the problem with this guy was _no_ ass. Flat, no development at all. Even out-of-shape bike racers have asses, it may be round and less defined, but it's there. This guys ass reminded me of kevin costner in American Flyers - not only not a bike racers ass, but not even an athletes ass. Super-out-of-shape newbie trigeek - strike 3.

Anyways, the race went off, and true to script for this race, a group goes off the front at the beginning. I knew of randy rusk, dave kellogg, someone who I thought was andy ruiz, and a few others that took off. I thought "good for them, that' means I wont' get dropped today".

It turned into a break of three with rusk, frank jennings (gearworks) and ron bourgoin (cyclemania). The rest of the guys all came back to the field.

At the end of two laps, they had minute gap. A few guys were trying things at the front, and I thought I would join the fun. The third time up the hill I was at the front and pushed the pace. I looked back and had a 100 foot gap. WTF? I wasn't exactly hammering....I kept the pace and by the top of the steep stuff (under the highway) had company. Chronoman had bridged up to me, towing adam sternfield, and the field not far behind. I worked at the front for the whole next lap, and the next time around tyler munroe atttacked up the climb. We got a small group of about 20 guys that could stay with it and a ten second gap all the way up the hill. It just came together before the downhill.

Not much happened after that until Softride Boy - riding in the field, decided to bump shoulders with two cycle mania guys. It happened right in front of me. We were seriously not riding hard into the wind on the flat part of the course, so some of the stragglers got back on, including the Beam rider. He decided, for some silly reason, to stick himself in between two cycle mania riders that were near the back chatting. He bumped into one of them, leaned into the other one who pushed him back, then went down. I managed to avoid it since I actually saw it unfold. A gearworks rider said loudly, "I knew that bike was going down today". The trigeek started screaming obscenities. Turns out when he went down, riders behind me were taking drinks and eating, and in the ensuing lack of control, Bad Balls and Solobreak swerved and bumped while holding bottles and both went down. As BadBalls told it after, the trigeek in his rage attempted to forcibly yank his bike from under the pile of bodies, and caused more damage than was originally there. Badballs had a nasty gouge on his ankle that he said was caused by the rear brake on the softride when trigeek tried to rip it out from under him. Read Solos account,

Billy thinks he has a cracked rib, but Duane thinks it's just bruised. Duane would know, since I don't think he has any ribs that aren't cracked from his years of motorcycle racing.

The last time up the hill was more spirited, but still not enough to break things up, and the last downhill had a number of escape attempts but nothing stuck. Fortunately, the last time up rte 12 before the finish, there were also a number of escape attempts, and this kept things from bunching up too much.

The sprint started in earnest just at the top of the little rise before the common, partially due to the fact that we saw two of the escaped riders just starting the finish climb. As riders popped off the front, two trucks had been let go through after the break went through. One took a right into a parking lot and the other stopped for the first one. Great - a pickup truck on a small section of road just two lanes wide. In amidst all the shouting, the truck started to move.....Too Late, we had already committed to our lines at high speed. As the truck moved, he made John Mosher (corner cycle) have to change his line suddenly. John fortunately braked enough so that when he hit the back of the truck, it was with just enough speed to stop the bike, John just kind of fell over at low speed.

Here's where it got scary - The truck had nylon straps across the tailgate holding the gate closed. One of Johns brake levers got caught in the strap, and as the truck pulled away it took johns bike with him. Fortunately, the driver stopped immediately and john had already disengaged from his pedals. A number of riders shut it down, and I hit the brakes as well, but still had a good line so I went for it.

Now, for those of you unaware, this finish hill is about 100 yards long and a solid 20% grade. Not something to look forward to in a 42 mile race with around 3000 feet of climbing. You actually do that section 7 times, since the race starts at the bottom, and finishes at the top. I hit the climb in about 15th spot, so I just kept hammering. I started to cramp about 3/4s of the way up the finish climb, but held on for 8th, no one passed me but I passed a bunch of guys. We caught the 3rd guy in the break and almost caught jennings, who barely held on for 2nd. I'm not sure if I would have made top ten if the accident hadn't occurred. I view it as a tainted placing for everyone except the top three.

Talking to Duane after the race, it turns out he knows softride boy. Believe it or not, the guy is the head of the PE department at newburyport high school. Duane knows the guy well. I've actually even met him at the mausdley state park thanksgiving day 'turkey trot'. I had no idea that was the dude.

More on how not to recover after a race -

After the race, don't stretch, go home and drink beer, then run a power washer cleaning deck and siding for two hours, go out to a friends house for diner and drink more beer.
Get up the next morning, go on 2 1/2 hour mtb ride, don't stretch after wards. Ride the lawnmower for 90 minutes, while drinking beer. take a nap. Clean ten loads of trash out of the attic. Eat two cheeseburgers with beer. Pass out on the couch.

The MTB ride was fun, my 17 mile circuit between winnekenni and millvale reservoirs, some good mud, trails generally in good shape otherwise, but then I had to ride for a mile into that killer headwind to get home, then my legs hurt, so I stopped...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hey, you gonna eat that?

Or, The Blue Hills Road Race Report.

Yeah, long time coming, but I've been busy.

The course was rolling with one stair step hill about 1 mile long and 150 feet in elevation. The rest of the course was gently rolling except for the one mile downhill that we were easily pushing the 53x12 on. We did six laps on the 7 mile circuit.

I rode down with The Indomitable Duane Schofield and his Magic Bus of Doom. I only had one other teammate there, which was disappointing since it was such an easy course. the rest of them had talked about going to a training crit at nearby Wells Ave, which I thought was pretty fucking stupid. Yeah, lets go to a training crit where you might win a fucking bagel ten miles from a real race with all the usual talent in new england. Not that there's anything wrong with wells ave, There isn't, I've logged 100's of miles there myself, but if you're going to drive there all the way from western fucking mass......It turns out they stayed home and rode hills anyways. Really, They decided to stay home and ride hills instead of coming out to race on a fast circuit that I know we could have done well on. I shouldn't be complaining, I haven't joined up with them at all this year. What can I say, Ninigret loses its charm when there are 12 races a year there (not including training crits).

Anyways, the field was pretty stoked with talent, with the likes of Tyler Munroe and a handful of CCB riders, the Gearworks squad with curley, jennings, and a few others, five sunapee riders, graydon stevens, joe get the picture.

Solobreak went from the gun, and at the end of 3 laps had over a minute in a solo break (I found out later he had one guy with him for a while that couldn't hang). A few chases went off, but for some reason nothing stuck. The teams weren't organized but Solo had no blockers either, well, except for Duane, but one guy can't hold off the whole field. Part of the reason was the breakaway specialists like eric pierce and graydon kept trying, but they would get chased down. I like Solo, and he was sort of the home town hero, so I didn't do anything that would have jeopardized his break. I ended up in a 5 rider break that got about 15 seconds with peirce, but that came back on the down hill and I didn't do any work in it. In another effort, graydon went off the front and got about 15 seconds, but I brought the whole field up to him just before the downhill. Graydon is one guy that could have chased Solo down and left him for dead.

For some reason on the 4th lap we closed the gap on Solo but quick. A few attacks went on the 5th lap but nothing stuck. Then at the beginning of the 6th lap, Peter Megdal (nebc) rolled off the front and got a slight gap, then mark thompson (sunapee) took off and chased him down. At the beginning of the downhill they had about 15 seconds on the field, and I think pretty much everyone thought we would bring them back on the downhill, but the sunapee guys went to the front and started blocking like mad, which let the two get away. By the time we got to the bottom of the hill they had increased their lead to 30 seconds. Since the bottom of the hill was a mile and a half from the finish, and the race finished at the top of the mile climb, there would be no catching them. Sunapee blocked all the way to the bottom of the climb. They were the only team that demonstrated any real teamwork.

That's when the field started swarming, and at the bottom of the climb it was all together. It was tough to hold position on the hill, and even though I hit the bottom of the hill at the front of the pack, riders kept coming around me, and I had to keep popping out of the front of the field to get my position back. At 500M to go I was completely boxed in, and saw a small group forming at the front with curley, jennings, munroe - the usual suspects.

I made an aggressive move to get out of the field (just ask art) and made the junction to the back of that group just as curley started his last move at the 200 M to go mark. Of course, when he went, that whole group went. He held his spot, winning the field sprint, and I passed half a dozen riders to get 11th in the sprint, but 13th overall since the two man break stuck. My teammate was on my wheel just before I made my move, but he lost me when I jumped going after curley. We came in about 15 seconds down from the winner, 42 miles in 1:35, 26.5 mph average - not bad for a bunch of old guys, and the 35+ were only one minute faster over the same course.

I felt good for most of the race. The only time I was in difficulty was once going up the climb, when I got this burning in my windpipe, something I'm not familiar with. It's usually my legs that cramp up, or I just go into O2 debt, but I can't ever remember having an actually burning sensation in my windpipe. It actually felt more like a severely dry throat, like you have when you wake up on the morning after sleeping with your mouth open all night, except it was all the way down my chest. That sensation lasted about half a lap.

On the way back from the race we took a detour up to Beverly for some little bike swap. I bought 4 new road tubes with 48mm stems for $8 and a lightly used selle italia SLR Ti for $35. Not bad for a saddle that retails for well over $100.

After that we stopped at a greasy greek sub joint. Duane ordered a steak and cheese and I ordered a steak bomb.

mmmmmmm.....comfort food.

The other thing is that I need to practice sprinting on the new bike. The front end of the CR1 is so fucking stiff that I don't need to put nearly the force into it to control the front end as I do on my other bikes. The couple of times I've sprinted with this bike I feel like I'm really throwing the front end all over the place. I'm concerned what will happen if I get out of the saddle to accelerate hard out of a corner, I did just that twice on the right hander after the downhill on sunday, and had to shut down the acceleration. That isn't going to work in a crit. Even the full carbon tsunami is noodly compared to this thing.

On another note I weighed the CR1 with my zipp 303s and no bottles. 6.84 Kg/15.05 pounds. How do ya like them apples?