Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Purtle Tond

sorry, had to do it. I don't know what popped that spoonerism into my head the other day, but now it won't go away. Hopefully I've perverted your mnemonic as well.

Turtle Pond was my first race - training or otherwise - since last 'cross season. I had no teammates though I had a number of friends there. As I noted in my last blogpost, I was dubious of my good performance on the BOB tuesday ride because the numbers didn't indicate a good effort, even though I finished a good 30 seconds ahead of anyone else.

Boring-reiteration-of-the-course-that-you've-read-on-ten-other-blogs-by-now: An 11+ mile circuit with one climb of note and a few other damaging rollers. There are 4 corners, with two on the north end of the course and two on the south end (more on that later). Mostly decent roads. We did 5 laps.

Even though I was using this race as more of a test than approaching it with a goal, I didn't race very intelligently. The hill is one of those climbs that is only as hard as the race. If you were just out riding it really wouldn't be much of a climb unless you were hammering, which is exactly what the leaders did every lap. It's about 1Km and maybe 5% pitch at one point but ~3% average. I was climbing it in my 39x16, so it clearly isn't much of a hill.

On the first lap it was controlled so I did it in my big ring. Not too hard, but I knew if I was going to be able to respond to any moves I was going to have to do it every time after that in my small ring. A break materialized on the subsequent downhill, and got a good gap right away. Other attempts to go off the front were chased and shut down by the cyclemania boys, who did an excellent job of controlling the race.

The mistake I made on the hill was sitting too far back in the field at the bottom of the climb each lap, then having to try and hammer to get to the front around the slower riders - just a case of not thinking about the race on my part. I know better than that and it caused me to spend a lot of unnecessary energy during the race. For some stupid reason I kept forgetting that the attacks were materializing on the hill, so my effort to get to the front, from the back, meant I had to climb faster than the leaders.

Don't try that at home, boys and girls.

Essentially, on laps 2, 3, and 4, I ended up barely getting onto the lead group before the bottom of the hill after the climb, and it was only with help from other riders that were chasing back on as well. The efforts pretty much toasted me for any other subsequent attempts at working. So on the last lap I started the climb at the front and didn't have much of a problem staying with the leaders (though it was still hard). There were still three riders off the front by then, and on the rollers before that (on lap 4) another group of two had gotten away so the race was essentially gone. They were paying 3 deep and five were away. Nothing left to race for but glory.

The southernmost point of the course course takes a sharp right onto a narrow road from a fast section, then takes another right 1/4 mile later on a slight downhill. It's far enough from the finish (5 miles) that getting through the corners first isn't important. For some reason, a lot of guys think it _does_ make a difference so they fly into them thinking they're in a crit or something. On every lap I had guys coming inside as I was setting up for the corner. If we were in a crit I would have shut them down hard, but hey, this wasn't the time or place for that type of riding, so as long as they didn't start crowding me I was fine.

I went on a little flyer with about 1 mile before the turns to avoid any problems. The fact that I hadn't spent energy chasing from the bottom of the hill left me feeling pretty decent at that point (QED for riding the hill from the front of the field). One guy went with me. It wasn't an attempt to breakaway, just to be safe. I had concerns about it because it was dicey before that and I could sense the tension increasing in the pack, so I decided to make the move. The guy that went with me pulled up and said "I'm not sure this is going to work", and I replied, "I just want to get through these corners up here". Next thing I know this dude is coming up on my right just before the first right hand turn, and I'm thinking "wow, this dude is gonna take that corner pretty tight". So I feather the brakes to scrub off a bit of speed and fade in behind the dude,

and he goes fucking straight.

I'm anticipating him taking a right, so I almost clip his real wheel, which would have taken me down. I yelled "DOOOOOD!!!", take the corner, accelerate out, look back and see half the goddam field going straight with the rest of the pack trying to make the tight 90 degree corner. Seriously, we had taken that corner 4 fucking times already. Not only that but the field for the most part saw me take the corner ahead of them. Even if they forgot about the turn that should have reminded them, and they should have realized the other dude went off the course. I started drilling it through that section to the next corner, and made it through that one first as well.

As I came out of the second corner, the field was on me. The confusion with the first turn obviously set off some alarm bells and people started hammering. I looked back and it was single file. It had stretched out enough that the guy the went off the front with me had actually latched onto the back of the field. If I had a gap I probably would have kept going, not that anything would have come of it, but it is bike racing.

I just kept on eye on the front after that. The last turn is about 2 miles from the finish, with a little bit of a climb and a fast descent that bottoms out 200 yards before the finish then leads into a slight incline. There wasn't a lot of urgency by this point since all the money was up the road so I didn't have any trouble picking out a spot and holding it about 5th in line. Coming into the final stretch I popped out to the right and started wrapping it up. Another rider popped out right when I was coming along side him and almost forced me off the road. I swerved a bit and had to re-accelerate, but went by the rest of the riders, coming up in his draft. He held it winning the field sprint for 6th and I managed 2nd in the field sprint for 7th over all.

I'm sure there would have been a more serious contest in the sprint if there was still money on the line, but I'm still happy with getting 2nd in a field sprint. It still looks good on a 'resume'.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

With Six You Get Egg Roll


The Way Life Ought To Be

Work sucks.

I have a really sweet situation here, and it's being ruined by a young arrogant entry-level project management puke with no respect for people who sat through less than six years of college.

But I'm not writing this post to bitch, I'm writing it to show my appreciation when things turn out well. After work I went to the 'tuesday night fights' - the BOB team ride in Plaistow NH. The Ride is a fun little jaunt from plaistow to exeter and back, with a few hill and townline sprints and a respite as we roll and regroup in exeter at about the 1/2 way point.

I wasn't too sure how I was feeling. I knew i wouldn't get dropped, but didn't know how much work I felt like doing. I haven't raced yet this year, not even a training race, I haven't yet 'turned the pedals in anger', and I was tired and cranky from work.

After the warm-up, I took the point to get things rolling by dragging the group over the first hill at 25 mph, then sat at the back to see how it shook out. The pace kept slowing on the flats, like under 21 mph.

Alright, I'll work.

I went to the front again and started driving, but not killing myself. It kept happening, when I dropped off the front, the pace dropped significantly, so I would go to the front to push it again. I rode away from the group at the exeter sprint without sprinting. Finally about 5 miles from the finish I just kept the pace up over a little rise, a gap opened, and I kept going. Over the next series of hills I kept the pace on the ups, and pushed hard on the flats, and coasted the downs. These roads are old logging and farm paths that have been paved over the years, so a 15 second gap puts you out of sight. Checking back at the last sections where you can see longer, I could see a good 30 second gap.

As I said, we weren't even close to hammering. My average speed for the entire last half of the ride was only 21.3 and the average for the two 'working' sections was only 21.7. My average from the point I broke away was only 21.5. Really, that's hardly the stuff stuff of break away wins.

Approaching the 'finish line' I backed way off - no need for an uphill sprint - and still rolled across the line 30 seconds ahead of the group. I got the good-natured ribbing that I love from the guys - "if you didn't want to ride with us you should have said so", "what, are you fuckin' juicin' now?", and "ya know, trying to get away isn't going to work, we'll still tell people you're with us". I do love these guys.

After the ride my wife and I got invited to a local restaurant that has Irish Sessions on tuesdays, and the largest selection of microbrews in massachusetts (36), where I had an Avery Ellies Brown Ale, a Left Hand Black Jack Porter, and a Dogfish 90 Minute IPA. The Brown gets an A, while the porter and IPA both get Bs. The restaurant has a card filing system where they keep track of what brews you've had, and after you drink 36 different brews they give you a T-shirt that reads "I've been around the block with the grill next door". I need six more brews for the T-shirt.

So, blowing the doors off the training ride, followed by an evening of irish music and craft brews - The Way Life Ought To Be......

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bike Trolling

So I'm looking for a vintage beater bike to set up as a fixed gear, fenders....etc. Good for kicking around town, something with a little panache, but not too banal. For example, I saw an early '90s vintage Taiwanese Bianci Premio - nice looking bike except for the TAIWAN ROC decal, too pedestrian.....Then there was the Torrelli carbon fiber (Alan actually) - too flashy. I was thinking like an 80's Ciocc, Peugeot, maybe derosa, etc...definitely steel, entry level race bike, worn, but not abused or neglected.

So I start digging around on ebay. I see a few interesting candidates - a specialized allez, wow, talk about fucking red; A bridgestone 450! In bright orange! with yellow decals!!!GAAAAD!!!

I do see one that _really_ piques my interest, but I'm not telling you about it until the auction is over. However, here are a few of the more noteworthy frames that I have no interest in, but the ads were too interesting not to share

An old Gitane would be nice....not too overstated....meh, only a 49. I selected the best picture of the bunch for the screen capture, to really show the 'rustic' character of the bike. Note the last line of the ad.

Ahhh, an old peugeot, chrome fork legs, nice color. I had to do some guestimation of the sizing since the seller posted the measurements in inches and from the _bottom_ of the bottom bracket to the top of the seat tube (as opposed to BB center to center or top of top tube). I figured it was about a 60, and the picture kind of looks like it. Too big. Hey, I wonder how much he wants for the 68 mustang with a blue tarp convertable roof and full of trash that he has the frame posed on?

Now we're talkin'....a Raleigh Technium, aluminum, forged dropouts...wait, a 58cm? shit, too big.

OK, this guys a scammer - flat $69 shipping fee with no local pick-up offered, negative and neutral feedback mostly centered around poor packaging, and he uses the excuse 'to save shipping costs'. At a flat fee of $69 for a bike frame you have to skimp on packing to save costs? Not to mention, it turns out the dude only lives on the cape. I'm going to spend $70 on shipping from the cape?.....right.
Then there's his comment to one buyer that he 'bases his profit on the shipping'. On his other auctions he claims no responisibility for damage due to insufficient packing. But then......


Also since I'm a practicing Dark Arts Vo*dooist and Satani*st I'm a strong believer in Karma, hence the name bikekarma"."com & while all items are saged/blessed according to my faith, still however, any Negative karma (V.S. Positive) sent my way will be reflected [return to sender;] and amplified 9X usually within 1-2 moon cycles ~ need I say more?..

If however these sobering terms are acceptable to you, I welcome your bid or business.

Yes, that's in his ad. Really. In fact it's in all his ads. Check him out here.

I think I'll put a template in all my ebay ads from now on something like:

"and if thou wouldst practice deceit of any manner upon our transaction I shall beseech my Lord and Savior to smite thee with pestilence and a plague of toads"

or maybe just "don't fuck me you fucking fucks"

"sobering terms".......indeed.....

Thursday, April 8, 2010


OK, I was going to post about what a good ride I had yesterday. A 2 + hour zone ride in the hot hot heat. Started at 87 degrees. Hot. Sweet hot. Sultry hot. Tropical. Just like I like it. Spent the whole time at the upper end of zone 3 with a few forays into zone 4, but the intent was not to wipe myself out. 1:45 into it I caught a truck draft for about a mile, and held on for a 32 mph uphill pull.

Maybe I'll blog about that later.

So, true to the subtitle of this blog, it's been a good week, and as of tonights ride home I will have logged ~230 miles in 13 hours over 6 days. Tomorrow will be a washout. Not bad for the first week of april. Hence, I'm in a pretty good mood. So much so in fact that I've decided to post a couple pictures a fellow cyclist emailed me, involving sweet, hot, sultry tropical heat, and bikes, and bamboo, and sweet, hot, sultry women.

oh, did I say this was a _Half_ Nekkid Thursday post? silly me......

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mondo Trasho

This post has nothing to do with the John Waters film of the same name starring the Notorious Divine - most noted for the scene in which Divine 'receives' a gift of rosary beads in a church pew (it really was filmed in a church in baltimore). Neither Divine or Waters would admit if Divine actually 'received' the rosary, but the scene left little doubt of what was occurring. Oh no, wait, that wasn't Mondo Trasho. That was Multiple Maniacs. Never mind. I guess I just like talking about the sexual desecration of sacrementals around easter.

But, as I said, this post has nothing to do with the movie, or religious perversions for that matter.

I got some really good riding in this weekend!

Saturday - Rode With Bangin' Big Ring Billy Bad Balls. Did 56 miles in just over 3 hours with 2400 feet of climbing, in a route similar to this one:

Except that I rode over to salem center to meet Billy which added the extra miles. The route included the famous Warner Hill, and the hills on rte 121 in chester, including the famous Microwave Tower Climb. We rode pretty much non-stop and cranked out some good big-ring tempo on the 28 bypass heading north. Billy is very fit right now, after a very full winter season of XC skiing. He kept me motivated on the climbs, and didn't let me slow down on the flats. I pretty much set the pace on the climbs and I'm quite sure he could have dropped me on anyone of them, but there were times he was breathing as hard as I was. We split the workload though he definitely did more than I.

Sunday - I answered a call to ride with Mark, a new member of my team to go for a 3-4 hour ride in southern vermont:

It turned out to be 4:24, 63 miles, and 5000 feet of climbing. The dude is a cat 2, and consistently gets in the top 5 in local 35+ road races. He took it easy on me. I took the advice from earlier in the week and put a 26 on the rear, probably one of the smarter things I've done all year.

I don't know for sure, but it seemed to me that half of the course was dirt. Dirt hills. Wet Dirt Hills. Alot of it was quite soft, like you were riding on very soft tires, so lugging the bike over wet dirt hills obviously was slow and painful. He had done the Johnny cake race in upstate new york the day before, missed the break, and chased solo for while before calling it a day. That worked in my favor. He could have dropped me anywhere he wanted, but followed my pace up the climbs. You can see his heart rate data on the garmin website, so I know he was working as well, but since he only had a 23 he had to push it harder over the steeper dirt sections, which he did with ease.

We missed a turn somewhere on the way back, and he suggested a direct route back that unfortunately would take us over Greenfield Rd. in Colrain Massachusetts. From the top of that it would be about ten miles home and all flat/downhill. I asked how step it was and his answer was, "let's just say I'd like that 26 you have". The climb on Greenfield Rd is just under 1.5 miles long at an average grade of 10%, but very consistent. I parked it in my 26 and kept my HR below AT, sitting the whole way up. Remember, this was about 4 hours into the ride. It took us about 8 minutes. He was alternatively standing and sitting, but seemed ok with the pace - IOW I don't think it was too slow for him.

Weekend stats: 119 miles, 7400' of climbing, ~8 hours riding time.

So, my legs are pretty trashed today. I rode into work because the weather is cooperating and a recovery ride is good. This morning, I ended up catching a group of cars through a section of gentle downhill where it's easy to draft. That isn't a good idea in early spring in Lawrence. Forgetting my years of commuting and drafting experience, I tucked directly behind an SUV doing about 30. It's generally wiser to draft behind the wheels since most drivers will drive around road hazards, and if you're following the wheel track you miss the hazards as well. I hit a rather substantial hole doing about 30.

The front survived, but the rear started a bad hop right away and went flat shortly after. It's still true enough that it doesn't hit the brakes. But, when I pulled it apart to replace the tube, I noticed that the metal by the valve stem hole had actually buckled and is visibly fractured. It's safe enough to ride home as long as I don't hit anything else, but tonight will be its last ride. I've hit big holes and curbs at speed before with these wheels and haven't had any issues, but I guess it finally caught up with them.

It was an old Rolf vector comp I've been commuting on for ten years. I bought the set new from the shop that used to sponsor my old team when he went out of business. I probably have over 50K miles on them. I've never had to do anything more than a simple true to the rear, and even then I really only had to do that maybe three times.

It's the end of an era. The shop owner sold them to me for like $150 for the set, so they owe me absolutely nothing, but I'm doubtfull that I'll be able to find another wheel that cheap that will hold up that well. Tonight, I shall raise a toast to my vector pro.

Trashed legs....trashed wheel.....Mondo Trasho.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

And On A Lighter Note.....

Never let it be said that I don't do my best to help my fellow human better themselves. I dabble in the Yahoo Answers forum, from time to time, especially in the cycling section, helping people with repair and fitness issues. Occasionally I venture outside the cycling page to answer another question that piques my interest, and did so the other day.

I got an email message following one of my reply postings:

From: Yahoo! Answers
Subject: Violation Notice Email
To: Zencycle
Date: Tuesday, March 30, 2010, 10:45 PM

Hello Zencycle

It has been reported that you have posted content to Yahoo! Answers in violation of our Community Guidelines or Terms of Service. As a result, your content has been deleted. Community Guidelines help to keep Yahoo! Answers a safe and useful community, so we appreciate your consideration of its rules.

Yahoo! Customer Care

So I went to the posted question, and indeed they had taken my answer down.

Well...Excuuuuuuuse me!!!!

So I went to my internet cache and dug out the offending page (this is a JPG version, click to enlarge):

But they let the answers "Do you by any chance have a pet snake also?" and "ask the cat" stand? Some people have no sense of humor.......