Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
How can you not love this stuff?
I'll tell you how. When you drive 2.5 hours to a race and the officials stop it a half lap in, later to cancel your field altogether. Yup, that's how.
I mean, some dudes were hurt pretty bad in a pileup almost right as we started, at least one had to be airlifted out, and you get all sort of weird feeling when someone gets hurt that bad, but, you know, you still walk away feeling empty and gyped (yup, i used _that_ word) for not getting to race and the promoter not being willing to put you in another race or refund...anything.
So, yeah, that's when I don't totally love this stuff...
at 4:26 PM
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
first morning complaint:
at 7:46 AM
Friday, October 7, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
There's something especially distasteful (and perhaps degrading) to me about eating meals at my desk. It's just so...grubby.
at 8:07 AM
Thursday, September 22, 2011
at 2:00 PM
Saturday, September 17, 2011
It's not all that awesome, but we're in business, which is awesome. (FB'ers, click here to see vid.)
I recorded A's cross country meet this morning, but it needs some editing (and some inspirational music) before it's ready for public consumption. So, stay tuned...
at 10:56 AM
Thursday, September 15, 2011
at 10:03 AM
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
This picture probably hasn't gotten enough attention:
Taken a few weeks ago, at a campground somewhere between Leadville and Buena Vista, Colorado. (A campground, btw, that was next to impossible to find at night. We drove past seven times before we found it.) Three bikes. Two indestructible tomato cages. Hauled from Idaho Falls all the way to Shippensburg. Via Ontario.
A map, you ask?
View Larger Map
Something like that.
Interestingly (to me), getting into Canada with my car thus loaded was no big deal. Getting out (even with two US passports and a PA license plate) was more difficult. Not difficult, per se, but the US border patrol agent had that sort of bad-ass cop attitude that we've all come to resent.
US border patrol agent: "Where are you coming from."
Me: "Idaho. Via Niagara Falls."
US border patrol dude: "You'll need to adjust that rack when you get out of here. A state patrolman will pull you over."
Me: "Oh, you mean like they haven't done in Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan...nor in Canada?"
Ok, I didn't really say that. I was all "Yes-sir, no-sir." Cops make me nervous. They have guns. And (yup, I'm going to say it) I don't trust anyone carrying a gun.
at 7:52 AM
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Yup. I admit it. I do enjoy riding in the rain. Quite a bit, actually.
What I don't enjoy is the aftermath. I don't enjoy how dirty everything gets, and when I say "everything," what I really mean is my bike. Which is not to say that I don't mind a dirty bike, it's that I mind the performance issues associated with a dirty bike that doesn't ever quite get clean afterward, even when you think it is.
I feel like I need to take things apart (pull the crank, pop the seatpost, take off the wheels and pedals) and let everything dry and wipe everything off. In the nooks and crannies. The bottom bracket bearing races, etc. And brakes, chain, derailleurs, etc.
And it seems to me that riding in the rain significantly decreases the useable life of cable housing, especially brake cable housing. I hate when brakes and derailleurs don't crisply spring back (when releasing tension) due to the crap that gets in there from who knows what. (I probably ought to look into that Gore sealed cable stuff, especially since I actually enjoy riding in the rain, but it seems expensive and complicated.) Seriously, though, riding in the rain leaves grit everywhere...
I also don't like wet shoes. Wet shoes dry quicker in the winter when the heat is on (and you put them next to the vent), but in this weather (and eastern humidity) it seems to take forever. Even with newspaper stuffed in them.
Anyway, I rode today. In the rain. For two hours and ten minutes. It was lovely.
But once home I had to drop everything in a hurry, shower, and get back to campus for a meeting. To which I was 10 minutes late. So I didn't get to take anything apart, and I didn't get to do any cleaning. So, now, when I do get to it, the whole thing will be worse. Which is a pain. But it's probably still worth it. Sometimes.
at 4:06 PM
Friday, September 2, 2011
You can't make this stuff up...
From The National:
Chris Jeon, 21, a student at at University of California - Los Angeles, decided to travel to Libya to join the rebels for the last six weeks of his summer vacation. Here he is surrounded by rebels who are amassing about 130km from Colonel Muammar Qaddafi's hometown and stronghold.
Wow. What did you do with the last six weeks of your summer vacation?
at 9:06 PM
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
at 1:37 PM
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I'm happy for the Gorilla.
Really, I've been a Greipel fan since at least this, and I think it's great he gets to beat Cav in a mano-a-mano shootout. It's good for everybody.
But look at this picture... Look at the size difference between these two! And what I love about the story of stage 10 is that it was Omega Pharma-Lotto's strategy to try to dump as many HTC riders (including, hopefully, Cavendish) on the Cat 4 climb leading up to the finish...assuming that Greipel, the dude nicknamed after the largest and surely the least adept at climbing of the hairy primates, would have a better chance making it through the difficult lead-up to the finish than teeny-tiny Cav.
I wonder how much more power Greipel had to put out over Cav to get over that last climb. I mean, compared to Cav...that dude looks huge!.
at 5:45 PM
Monday, July 11, 2011
With the Tour de 'Toona this past weekend my road racing for the year is pretty much done. I may jump into something in late August or September (and hopefully at least one more mountain bike race), but my mind and focus is pretty much on cross from this point forward. Two weeks off, then a comfortable build-up for the mud-slinging good times of the cx circuit. (And the blessed cooler weather of the fall months.)
So, a review of what's gone down in 2011 thus far.
March 19. Philly Phlyer (3/4). 18 of 50+
March 20. Prospect Park CR (3/4). Somewhere in the middle of a pretty big crew.
April 2. Marysville MTB team relay. (Does this race even have results?)
April 9. Fulton RR (3/4). 1 of 50+.
April 16. SoYoCo CR (3/4). 3 of 30+?
April 17. Carlisle 40km TT. 2 of ? (57:02)
May 1. Michaux Maximus (20 mi). 2 of 26 (age group); 4 of 84 (overall)
May 7. Turkey Hill RR (3/4). 37 of 100.
May 14. Poolsville RR (35+). 13 of 75.
May 28. Killington SR, Stage 1, CR (3). 62 of 88.
May 29. Killington SR, Stage 2, TT (3). 18 of 88.
May 30. Killington SR, Stage 3, RR (3). 38 of 85.
-- Killington SR, GC (3). 25th.
June 11. PA Elite State Championship 40km TT (3). 3 of 13. (56:04)
June 17. TOWC Kick-Off Classic Criterium (3/4). 45 of ?
June 17. TOWC Kick-Off Classic Criterium (1/2/3). dnf.
June 18. Guy's Neshaminy Classic (Expert 19-39). dnf.
July 9. Tour de 'Toona SR, Stage 1, RR (3). 21 of 42.
July 10. Tour de 'Toona SR, Stage 2, Crit (3). 23 of 48.
That, friends, is a resume of mediocrity.
I told Valerie after Fulton (easily my biggest result in the past five years) that I should just hang it up for the year...I wasn't going to beat that result (it was a kind of Johann Van Summeren right-place-right-time, just-strong-enough thing). The comment proved prophetic.
But I feel good about my result at SoYoCo. Out of how many ever started (a good portion of the pre-registered riders didn't even bother to show up), only about a dozen finished. Conditions were terrible--heavy rain, wind, running water on the roads...and probably my favorite race of the year. Not only do I love that course, but those conditions were just awesome. That was bike racing. (That those who didn't even bother to show up can call themselves bike racers is a travesty.)
The second place at the Michaux Maximus was pretty good too, but I'm sure all the fast guys were doing the 40-miler...
A near miss at Poolsville... I finished 13th...but what that doesn't say is that I finished the day near the back of a select group that saw attack after attack over the last five miles with no one getting anywhere for long. I was in several breaks, the last of which formed on the dirt section of the final lap. There were five or six of us, then another six or seven bridged up within a mile or two after the dirt. Anyway, I felt great, rode a super aggressive race, and among a really stellar field finished right there among the leaders. Thirteenth place overall, fifth cat 3.
But besides feeling good about the bronze medal in the PA Time Trial State Championships (finishing four minutes under an hour in a 40km ITT feels pretty decent), the rest of the season has been mediocre at best. That's not to say I haven't had fun at the races (note the last post), because I have, but I also like to do well, and I finish poorly more often than not. But that seems to be bike racing, when you find your level of incompetence rising through the USAC category system, as apparently I have.
Hurrah for cross season! (Hope springs eternal for the rider...)
at 11:43 AM
The elevation profile of Saturday's stage...
...except that the race was really more like 70 miles long...apparently our race started some eight miles in from where this profile begins. Anyway...
The first climb was much longer and much steeper in places than I was expecting. It was a haul. But the ride down was great fun. I've become much better at descending. On the steep descents, if I was leading I would invariably look back to see that I'd distanced my riding mates by some considerable margin, or if I started behind others, I was quickly shooting past them...
Perhaps it speaks to my poor finish* (21st of 42) that the most exciting thing about the race for me was the descending, but it really was fun. For me, anyway, there are few chances to really race down long, steep descents. And I found it exhilarating.
The ride that offered this exhilaration: sub-15 lb '08 S-Works SL2 w/ Zipp 404s glued to Vittoria Corsa Evo CX tubulars. It's such a lovely ride. Others have nice bikes too, really nice bikes, but I can't remember looking at anyone else's rig this year and thinking I'd rather have their ride.
*I hate the "what-if" and "could have/should have" post race whine ritual, but I can't help it... Two weeks ago I was just getting over a week-long bout of stomach flu that obviously kept me off the bike, but also fevered, bed-ridden, dehydrated, and running to the toilet...usually making it on time. The week afterward, when back on the bike, I was completely gassed. This last week I felt pretty ok, but on Saturday... Well, I really should have (yup, I said it) been doing better up those climbs. I mean, at Killington, when I was destroyed on the last climb, well I was just destroyed. I felt like I was going pretty good, but there were just a lot of folks going a lot better than me. But Saturday, well, I was capable of much better...
at 11:17 AM
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Are there harder men than cyclists?
And this dude (Johnny Hoogerland) not only got on his bike and rode the 24 miles (presumably with a new pair of shorts) left to the finish, he's going to be back on tomorrow to race another 100+ miles. Well, not really tomorrow, as Monday is a rest day, but he'll be back on again Tuesday, and if Monday wasn't a rest day he'd be riding.
Behold, a hard man.
Here's a video (in Flemish) showing what caused the wreck. Someone lost their job today.
But it wasn't all bad for Johnny. Due to his work earlier in the stage, he finished the race with a lead in the climbing competition.
Nice work, man.
at 3:13 PM
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
I wonder if Contador is aware that his handlebars offer a more aerodynamic sprinting position. Who knows, he might have won...
Congrats to Evans for a great show in today's final. I got my money's worth.
And how about that Thor Hushovd? I mean, did you see the list of dudes he finished with? Totally out of place in that crowd...and yet maintains his lead in the GC. Crazy impressive.
I'd like to have been inside Evans' head when he turned around at the finish and realized Hushovd was in his group. Nuts. Though, the truth of the matter is that if he (Evans) had attacked at the bottom of the hill and really went for it, regardless of what other riders were doing, he would have lost the stage, but pulled on the yellow. Hard to say which outcome would be preferable. But at least this way he gets to wear polka-dots tomorrow. If he later gets yellow, he'll have been able to spend at least one day in each jersey, as Gilbert already has. That's pretty cool.
I wonder how often that happens... It's probably happened a few times the way Gilbert did it--winning the first road stage. It probably happens a lot less the way Evans may do it--not winning a stage until later (in this case, day four), and wearing yellow the last of the three. My guess is that if that's been done, it's only been once or twice before.
at 10:52 AM
Saturday, June 25, 2011
I would guess that by the time I was 25 I had done more door-to-door sales/solicitation/proselytizing/etc. than 99 percent of the people I will ever know.
Ironic, then, that I have zero patience for the odd front door sales call I get now. And while I have sympathy for the poor shleps forced into such endeavors, I'm not going to listen to five seconds of sales pitch.
I am the last person I would want to come across while doing the jobs I did for so many years.
at 3:25 PM
Friday, May 20, 2011
Monday, May 2, 2011
Did a little racing in Michaux over the weekend. The 20-miler. It was about all this mountain bike wimp could handle.
As I finished, pulling into the appropriate finishing chute and watching the scorers wipe the mud from my tag and post it on the board, someone asked me something...one of those comments that seems inane at face value but, in the appropriate context and bolstered by integrity*, holds value enough--something like, "How was your race?" or "How do you feel?" In response, I shrugged my shoulders and muttered, "It's what we do."
Bike racing: It's what we do.
Why do we race our bicycles? I don't know, it's just what we do. Why do we endure torrential rain in 40 degree weather (as at SoYoCo a couple of weeks ago)? I don't know, it's just what I do. Why the long winter rides in sub-freezing weather? Why the delayed yard work on Saturdays? Why the hours tinkering over drive trains? Why the money spent on all manner of gear, travel, registration? Why the strain on relationships and other commitments? Why all of it?
I don't know, it's just what we do... (And it feels really, really good when we do it.)
Riders understand. So did the dude who asked me the question.
Ok, enough poetry...
The Maximus 20-miler looked like this (the Garmin plot of someone who apparently finished just a few minutes behind me). I wish I had a picture of what my bike and I looked like after the 20-miler. You'll have to imagine... April had record-breaking precipitation. Much of the trail became run-off stream. Sometimes the trail was a stream. I didn't spend all of my time balanced on two wheels. There, that should give you an adequate picture.
Anyway, no great insights from the experience. Which is to say that I learned what I already knew--I'm a stronger rider than most, but I am easily out mountain biked by those that know what they're doing. In other words, I'm a pansy. Or a poser. But I still finished second in my age group (of 26) and fourth overall (of 84). And, as always, for reasons that continue to allude me, it feels downright awesome to ride faster than a lot of other good riders and a few really good ones...
Of course, the real talent was likely attracted to the 40-mile option (or Granogue). Another way to say that is if the 40-milers were racing the 20-miler, well, I wouldn't have fared so well. But I think the 40-mile option may have just done me in. It's not the five hours of riding, of course, it's rather what I'd be riding for five hours. Hats off to you off-road wizards. I'm ever in awe of your mad mtb skills...
The sorest part of my body today? Triceps.
* When I say "integrity," I mean to use the word in the sense David James Duncan uses it here, but with the volume turned down a bit, as it were:
Language has vertical limits. Not just any speaker can pack up his speech and tote it at will to a higher elevation. Where there is a will, there is as often a major embarrassment as there is a way. Like a gymnast on parallel bars, the speaker or writer who successfully conveys exaltation must possess sufficient mental muscle to hoist himself above the level of everyday verbiage without appearing to strain. Again, like the gymnast, he must be able to lift himself, all by himself. It is not speech coaches and writers, height of pulpit, number of advanced degrees, thickness of thesaurus, histrionic techniques, or any such contrivance that truly lifts language: it is personal integrity. It’s the ability to imbue one’s words with the physical momentum, intellectual clarity, and psychic depth that only the actual deeds of a life can provide. If Martin Luther King Jr. in his Lincoln Memorial Speech of 1963 had said, “In my heart I know I’m right,” and if President Nixon, in his resignation speech a decade later, had said, “I have a dream,” the world would have remembered King’s heart and forgotten Nixon’s dream. It is not just the words that make words memorable.
at 3:12 PM
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Introducing my newest rig, Monster X 1.0:
After my Gary Fisher Paragon died in December, I had to quickly buy a replacement mtb (because who can be without a mtb for more than a week or two, especially during the winter?), which I did, but when the warranty replacement came what was I to do but find a creative use for it?
So I built the monster cross--which, in this case, is essentially a fully rigid mountain bike with drop bars and road shifters.
I finally finished the build last week* and I'm happy to report that I really, really like it. It's heavy, which is a bummer, but it's a lot of fun on the fire roads and bits and pieces of mild single track that make up the majority of my forays into the woods. For that purpose, it's perfect.
There are still a few kinks to work out, however. First, the X-9 rear derailleur that I'm using does not play well with the Rival shifter it's paired with. Though the derailleur was obviously designed for nine-speed use, I didn't figure it would be a problem using it with the road shifter and a ten-speed cassette. But it is--the derailleur won't hold the furthermost inward position no matter what I try. I'm not sure if that's a problem with the derailleur design or perhaps a problem with this particular derailleur, which may be bent from abuse from previous mtb applications.
Second, I've got to make a decision as to whether to run a single-ring setup or a double--a matter on which I waffle daily--and then complete the build, either with an appropriate derailleur or chain guards, depending.
Third, I'm dissatisfied with the fork. It's a nice steel 29er fork, as far as that goes, but besides being heavy (it is), the crown doesn't fit well with the 1 1/2" lower headset bearing. The headset has an adapter to fit the 1 1/8" steerer, but the crown of the fork is so skinny that it doesn't rest nicely up against the bearings and I'm worried about the long-term reliability of the patch. So I have one of those beautiful new Niner carbon forks on order (it's now been two months) and am super excited to see it installed on this rig. Presently, I'm salivating over my mental picture of its awesomeness.
Finally, I've got to find a better solution to the stem situation. I knew I would need a super short stem to replicate my road position on this bike, so I grabbed a 50 or 60 mm downhill number from one of Merv's bins and it works nicely, but probably weighs close to a pound on its own. Finding a nice lightweight stem that's as short as it needs to be on this bike has not been easy. Really, this is a low priority problem--what I have on there works fine, it just distracts from the overall aesthetic of what I've got going on. In time...
Anyway, I've been out three times on this little beauty and I'm really taking a hankering to it. I'm much more comfortable in a road position than on mtb bars (when not truly mountain biking) and a suspension fork is superfluous for a good deal of my adventures off-road. Once the shifting issues are resolved, I'm excited to plot some nice long backwoods routes and really put it to the test.
And of course the bike offers tremendous flexibility too, depending on tire choice, which is one of the reasons I was so excited about this build. I have a nice pair of 700c X 28mm road tires on order that will work nicely for long rides from Ship to the fire roads of the Tuscarora State Forest and back again...or for exploration further south in Michaux and into the Maryland mountains. Knobbies are great and all, but they are not fast...
* Getting this thing together has been way more of a hassle than it should have been. Here's a list of some of the difficulties I've encountered, other than what I already discussed:
(1) The derailleur hanger wouldn't fit on the frame until the frame was modified by file. Personally, I was unconvinced the hanger I had was the appropriate hanger for the frame (as I imagine most people would assume when it doesn't immediately fit), until assured by a Trek dealer that it was correct. I let them do the filing.
(2) The new Trek BB90 or BB91 or whatever the heck it is was a tremendous hassle. In all internet-dom I could find only one supplier that seemed to know what he was talking about and could sell me the appropriate Shimano BB. Even then there was some confusion between the road and mtb versions of this BB, with Trek customer support telling me one thing and the Trek dealer something else entirely. I'm happy to say, however, that the first BB I eventually did buy fit perfectly.
(3) Lack of careful measurement (and an overabundance of wishful thinking) on my part led me to believe I'd be able to use a Dura-Ace 7800 crankset with the frame. But that was foolish--it didn't work at all. So that left me scrambling to find a new crank that would fit the frame. (I ended up cannibalizing the XT crank on my Superfly and buying a new crank for it, but even that was fraught with complication--when one is considering the purchase of a new crank, one wonders if an entire drive train upgrade wouldn't be in order, in this case to a two-ring setup. In the end, I decided against it, primarily with financial considerations in mind.)
(4) It wasn't until I installed derailleur cable and chain that I realized my setup afforded no means of adjusting derailleur cable tension--no barrel adjusters on the derailleur (they're on the levers on mountain bikes) and no barrel adjusters on the levers (they're on the derailleur on road bikes), and of course mtb frames don't have a place for frame-mounted barrel adjusters on the down tubes like many road frames. Anyway, I ordered an inline barrel adjuster and the problem was easily solved, but it's just another one of those things...
(5) SRAM Rival front derailleurs don't have enough reach to get a chain on the outer chainring of a three-chainring mtb crankset.
at 10:53 AM
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
For Immediate Release:
Shippensburg University Cycling Announces Youth Bike Rodeo
Shippensburg, Pennsylvania – April 26, 2010 – On Friday, April 29, 2010, Shippensburg University Cycling will host the Fifth Semi-Annual Spring/Fall Youth Bike Rodeo. Intended for children in Kindergarten through fifth grades, the event will include activities such as helmet fitting, minor bicycle maintenance, bicycle fitting, safety tips, and a skills-testing obstacle course. The event begins at 4:00 pm and will continue until 5:30 pm.
The rodeo will be held on the Shippensburg University campus, in the Queen St. commuter parking lot at the corner of Queen St. and Richard Ave. While there will be no adult specific activities, parents are encouraged to stay and participate. All participants should bring a bicycle and wear a helmet.
This event builds off the success of previous SU Cycling Team sponsored youth bike rodeos. Thirty to forty children participated in each event.
About Shippensburg University Cycling: Shippensburg University Cycling is organized as a university club sport. The mission of Shippensburg University Cycling is to promote cycling socially as well as to prepare athletes for collegiate competition.
Ship Cycling competes in road and mountain bike events in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (collegiatecycling.org/eccc) under the auspices of USA Cycling (usacycling.org). The team is funded by the University Student Senate as well as the generous support of area businesses including Sunrise Computers and Electronics (www.digitalsunrise.com), The Carlisle Group (tcgrecruit.com), Mountainside Ski & Sport (www.mountainsideski-sports.com) and Wertner Signs (www.wertnersigns.com/).
The team holds regular training rides, open to all area cyclists, in the rural farmland and mountainous terrain of Cumberland and Franklin Counties.
For more information on the Shippensburg University Cycling Team, please contact Nathan Goates, faculty advisor (firstname.lastname@example.org), Matt Conroy, club president (email@example.com), or visit our blog at shipcycling.blogspot.com.
Dr. Nathan Goates
at 8:20 AM
Monday, April 18, 2011
In an email seen by Cyclingnews, McQuaid wrote to Vaughters:
"I have had enough of this High Moral Ground from you and I am refraining myself from writing exactly what I am thinking.
"Enough to inform you that when I have finished with the teams today you will have plenty to "reflect" on and communication will be the furthest thing from your mind!!”
I really wish we had the text of the whole correspondence.
All the same, a preponderance of the evidence over the past few years is that McQuaid is straight loco. And, you know, I'm inclined to agree with him on the radio thing, but it's clear a majority of the riders don't. And the teams sure don't. And given that reality, how can you expect to "lead" when your constituency* so adamantly opposes your policy?
Time to look in the mirror, McQuaid, and make a change...
*It's tricky to pinpoint who McQuaid's "constituency" actually is. I suppose an appropriate parallel might be to say that McQuaid is like a public school board (all of it) and the riders are like the students. It's a shaky metaphor (for a number of reasons), but the point is that McQuaid is NOT directly accountable to the students, but it's still his job to lead them. If he does not have their trust and respect (which it seems clear he does not), then he's failed.
at 10:21 AM
Monday, April 11, 2011
Saturday, I won a race. I'm not going to lie: it was awesome.
And now I have to document, because that's what we do.
Fulton Road Race. Fifty-eight starters. Five laps around a 10 mile course for a total of 50 miles. A fair amount of climbing--about 750 ft per lap, most of that over two steeper climbs, the rest over a long false flat / 1-2 percent grade and a few rollers.
Short story: First place after an 18-mile solo break.
Long story: Things started out chill enough, but then you hit those hills and everybody races, races, races up. After the first time over the climbs you got the sense about 35 percent of the group had fallen behind...but they probably caught back on again...then fell back once more the second time through...
And so it continued until the beginning of lap four. People seemed to realize that the race was now between the folks left riding together and things slowed significantly. There couldn't have been more than 30 riders left in the field. No one up the road, no one pushing the pace.
So about two miles into lap four six to eight of us sat around at the front. Chatting. Playing around. Then Jon came up and took a bit of a pull--sort of stretching his legs--and as we came down and then up from the little valley between a couple rollers I accelerated and rode right away. (I say "accelerated," but it was a real effort.) No one chased. And I can only assume they all just kept dinking around like they were before.
My effort was half-hearted at first. I figured I'd be off the front for a few miles and they'd get motivated and catch me so I didn't want to burn too many matches. But after getting to the top of the first climb and seeing I still had a significant gap I started to push it 100 percent. I was hoping that a couple of guys might bridge up to me, using one of the climbs as a catalyst for their attack--and they appeared to try to do just that--but no one ever got that close.
On the second climb, fourth lap, I could see the advancing hoard maybe 20 seconds behind me and thought they'd easily catch on by the start/finish, but I poured on the gas anyway and after the climb they must have just shut it down (no one wanting to be the one chasing) because going through the start/finish I had 1:30 on the field.
And that's where you begin to think you might just have it--when you get out-of-sight. Out-of-sight, out-of-mind in these sorts of races.
I turned myself inside-out on the last lap. Again, I thought they'd get me just after the second climb--I could see a chasing group of two--but while they seemed to get awfully close on the accent, once the road leveled out I couldn't see them behind me anymore. Later, I found out the two weren't really cooperating and were content merely to stay away from the field and sprint for second. Their loss. :-)
At the 200m mark I knew I had it and sort of just rolled in across the line. Second and third came in maybe 15 seconds behind me...and the field maybe 10 seconds after that.
On the last major climb, which tops out some two miles from the finish, I'm sure Jon could have bridged up to the two chasers. He's good at that sort of thing--plus he said he wanted to. But had he done so he likely would have pulled up others, which may have sped the chase considerably, which then may have caught me. So many thanks to Jon for the smart team racing.
* The motorcycle official would occasionally come up to me, get a time split, tell the chasing pack the split, but not me. How lame is that?
* It's funny, Jon and I were trying to talk ourselves into not going on Thursday. I had completely forgotten that I had done this course before, two years ago (Ryan and I finished 11th & 12th), and that it is easily my favorite Lancaster Co. course. I figured this out on the drive there, and then I got all excited about the race. Even if I hadn't done well, it would have been a shame not to have been there--if I'd figured out later what course this actually was I'd been sad to have missed it.
* Rich (Ruoff) puts on an organized race and all, but they really are kind of boring. No announcer (and they had a megaphone there, they could have at least done a little announcing). No podium. No leader's jersey for the series (which I would be wearing; which would be awesome). No real hullabaloo at all. To me, it's that sort of stuff that makes the difference. It's a very inexpensive way of making the race more interesting and endearing for participants. It's how you make just a boring race into an event...into something. Anyway, promoters could be a little (a lot) more creative.
* I don't know how (some) pros have the energy to throw out those exuberant displays of excitement at the finish. I could barely get my hands off the bars for an understated (but heartfelt, believe me) fist pump.
* This is my first non-TT road win since August of 2006. It feels good to win. It's been a long time.
at 8:10 PM
...on it's first go with this wheel. Lucky ducks.
(Facebookers, you'll have to visit the blog to watch the video.)
Though, I've got to say, while the video is cool (and who can't help but have a bit of a man-crush on Thor), it doesn't make me any more likely to buy a pair of Mavic hoops.
Ok, carry on...
at 5:47 PM
Friday, April 8, 2011
Yesterday, I was off riding the new Wildcat reroute (the cat's meow) with Aaron. We were bouncing along ok (well, you might say I was stumbling heavily through the gnarly rock gardens as Aaron floated magically over them) when I flatted from a substantial sidewall tear.
As I was grumbling with the prospect of having to put a tube in a tire full of gross sealant while fumbling with a make-shift energy-bar boot, I realized I hadn't brought tire levers. Aaron hadn't either.
So while I'm prepping mentally for the walk out and call to rescue-lady Valerie, Aaron suggests that I use his quick-release lever.
Wow. Major light bulb moment. A quick-release lever doubling as a tire lever! Who knew?
After that moment of realization, I figured my quick release lever was just as good as Aaron's, and so I tried it...BAM: worked perfectly.
How is that I've been riding bikes (w/ quick release levers), getting flats, and fixing flats for nearly two and a half decades and I'm just now learning this trick? It's brilliant! And while I'm tempted to say 'life-changing,' and realizing that might be a bit hyperbolic, I've got to say it's a pretty revolutionary insight. I mean, really, this is right up there...
Incidentally, I quickly learned that while a quick-release lever makes a great tire lever, one has to take care to keep track of the nut on the other end through the process or it will no longer serve its primary function--securing a wheel to a bicycle. Because, yes, I lost mine sometime mid-tire-removal/install. In the woods. Among last year's fallen leaves. And a fresh pile of deer poo.
But after an eternity of panicked searching (five minutes), Aaron and I found one spring and one nut...which was enough. So, with energy-bar-wrapper-tire-boot in place, air in tire, and skewer once more secured, we headed home.
at 9:04 AM
Friday, March 18, 2011
There's been some tremendous racing during the past two weeks.
My favorite winners: Gilbert, Evan, and Vockler, in that order.
I mean, Gilbert is just unreal. Did you see this from Stage 5 of the Tirreno-Adriatico?
Or from the Montepasche Strade Bianche a couple of weeks ago?
I love this guy. I mean, Gilbert's becoming more of an odds-on favorite in some of these races than a high-seeded team in the NCAAs!
Then of course there was Evans pulling out a tremendous win in the race leader's jersey in Stage 6 of the Tirreno-Adriatico on his way to the overall:
Interesting (to me) to note that Gilbert seemed to get the better of Ballan in the Montepasche by taking the inside line in the final corner before the finish, whereas Evans gains the advantage over Visconti and Nibali by carrying his momentum through the outside line of two of the final turns.
Finally, Vockler impressed in Paris-Nice by pulling out stellar victories in both Stage 4 and Stage 8.
What a great year of racing so far!
at 8:52 AM
That said, Pat McQuaid (the president and face of the UCI), is handling the conflict that has arisen from the ban in typical fashion: horribly.
"...the system does not have to adequately represent the interest of the teams and their employees (interests which, by the way, conflict among these two at many times) - or of any other particular stakeholder..."
Legally, of course McQuaid is right. Practically, however, it's hard to imagine a less enlightened leadership strategy.
at 8:48 AM
Sunday, February 27, 2011
I honestly don't know what to think of this (Alexi Grewal's comeback):
His fame is, believe it or not, a little before my time, but from what I remember he worked pretty hard to be known as the biggest jerk in the peloton. Incredible talent; incredible donkey. (Wasn't the "Cannibal" character in American Flyers loosely based on this dude, at least temperament-wise?)
Anyway, my interest is piqued. (And based on this picture alone, scared to death.) Here's to the big 5-o!
at 7:23 PM
Friday, February 18, 2011
- Unconscious Incompetence
- The individual neither understands nor knows how to do something, and does not recognizes the deficit. An example of this might be someone giving racing a crack for the first time. He might be fit but still does not understand how to bike race. The best place to introduce someone to the race environment would be in D-grade.
- Conscious Incompetence
- Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, without yet addressing it. This would be after a few races getting comfortable in D-grade and then racing in C-grade. This is a pack of cyclists who have a good fitness base but still learning the major details of how to bike race and the skills required. Things are still being learned such as how to roll turns properly, how to corner, where to position yourself.
- Conscious Competence
- The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires a great deal of consciousness or concentration. Now we’re getting into the B-grade level of racing. Everyone who is good enough to be out there is committed to racing. Many people’s ambition is to make it into A grade but there is still lots experience required to put what has been learned into practice.
- Unconscious Competence
- The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it becomes “second nature” and can be performed easily (often without concentrating too deeply). He or she may or may not be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned. This should be the skill level of an A-grade cyclist. An A-grade cyclists should know how the game is played, the tactics involved, and not have to second-guess details such as cornering, positioning, attacking, counter-attacking, the direction of the wind, echeloning, holding your line, etc.
I like Wade's application of Maslow's model to cycling. However, I believe a distinction should be made between what I'll call race survival skills and race winning skills. Race survival skills are more or less technical in nature, easier to achieve competence in, and you don't necessarily need to race that much to get there. These include skills such as drafting, pace-lining, echeloning, cornering, holding a wheel when you think you have nothing left to give, how to close a gap, knowing how to eat and drink in the peloton, knowing when to eat and drink to survive the race, and countless other things you just learn by doing a lot of riding with others. Race winning skills are less technical and more nuanced in their application, and are thus harder to learn. These include skills such as positioning, attacking, counter-attacking, when to burn matches and when to save matches, how to race with teammates, how to race without teammates, etc.
[The rest of this post was written with novice to intermediate collegiate cyclists in mind as audience (it gets kind of lecturey), and is posted on the Ship Cycling blog without this explanatory note, in case you were wondering.]
The distinction between these two types of skills is important, I think, because the four levels of bicycle racing competence that Wade describes seem, at first, to map nicely onto the D-A category system in US collegiate racing, where D fields are comprised of novice, USAC Cat 5 riders, and A fields are comprised of elite, USAC Cat 1-3 riders. However, upon reflection, I think the comparison is a more appropriate typology only for race survival skills. Race winning skills, well, that's another matter. While every pro cyclist is likely fully competent in race survival skills, there surely is a great deal of variance in race winning skills (one reason I suspect directors are so adamantly opposed to the elimination of race radios--they want control over in-race tactical decisions because they don't trust their riders' judgment). And I think an argument can be made that some riders are natural racers, which is to say that they seem to have an innate gift for reading a race, attacking at opportune moments, conserving when attacking would bear no fruit, etc. These riders can't really explain how they do it and may be only vaguely aware of the difference between themselves and others in the first place. However, like any skill, no matter the rider's disposition, education and practice can make him or her better, whether that person is the equivalent of a tactical moron or race-reading genius.
Education and practice. With emphasis on the later. Unless you are orders of magnitude more fit than your competitors, wins will not just fall in your lap (and if they do, you're racing below your category). In bicycle racing, to win you have to try to win.
And, in my opinion, that speaks to one of the great ironies of bicycle racing--that those trying hardest to win the race often finish amongst the last in the standings. You see, once a cyclist reaches some standard of competence in race survival skills (and requisite fitness), it's not really that hard to hang on for a top 25 percent placing in any race. Race conservatively, and with minimal effort you'll find that's easy. But to win, you have to be willing to risk colossal defeat. So it would seem that the limiters to winning (if you're counting) include being willing to risk personal pride. And it may be useful, at least from the racer's perspective, to think of a race as having one winner and n-1 losers. No second place. No top 10s. There is just a winner and a lot of unhappy losers.
So that comfortable (and respectable) top 25 percent placing? Screw it. Exhaust your matches winning or lose big trying.
at 10:43 AM
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I love how this dude races.
Philippe Gilbert is easily on my top five list of favorite riders. I love how his cycling spidey sense allows him to continually pull victory out of seemingly suicide late-game moves.
Case in point:
Today, stage one of the Volta ao Algarve. According to CyclingNews.com, "Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) won the opening stage of the Volta ao Algarve with a perfectly-timed attack in the final kilometre."
The results tell it all:
|1||Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto||4:36:36|
|2||Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quickstep Cycling Team||0:00:05|
|3||André Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto|
|4||Tyler Farrar (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo|
|5||Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team|
|6||Baden Cooke (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard|
|7||John Degenkolb (Ger) HTC-Highroad|
|8||Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team RadioShack|
|9||Tony Gallopin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne|
|10||Wout Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team|
Look who finished second, third, fourth, and sixth. All of those dudes are BA sprinters...and Gilbert steals a victory out from under their noses.
That's how I want to win races, man. That's how I want to win races...
at 12:52 PM
Monday, February 14, 2011
Weather.com says its 52 degrees right now. It's outstanding.
On my walk to work this morning it was warm enough that I had to take my jacket off. Wunderbar!
Also on my walk to work... As there was a strong headwind, and my hair was still wet, I got to thinking about high school, when my hair was fairly long, and that my preferred way of drying it was to put my head out the window of my little maroon truck on my way to wherever I was going. Like a dog. And about that enthusiastic about life too.
Oh to be young. You have everything of any value in life...except money and brains.
It's the smell of spring that brings about these sentimentalities. Someone shut me up before I'm forced to punch myself.
at 11:46 AM
Friday, February 11, 2011
Location: Meet at Southhampton Township Park near Shippensburg.
Description: Forty-nine miles gallivanting around southwestern Cumberland County.
This "race" (we'll probably only end up really racing over the last 5-10 miles or so) is our annual unofficial kickoff to the collegiate season. The ECCC starts its season on the first weekend of March, but since the ACCC generally runs a race on the previous weekend, The Tree and Farm Race goes off on the third weekend of February.
Usually cold, usually windy, sometimes snowy, completing this course is no Sunday stroll. The route offers a survey of wonderful riding southeastern Cumberland County has to offer, with a survey of Mennonite farm lands, Pennsylvania game lands, and the edge of two Pennsylvania state forests.
Unless you plan on never leaving the wheel of someone who knows the course well, you'll want a cue sheet (provided at start) tied to your top tube. The course meanders along all manner of rural farm road, peppered with two sections of loose cinder rail-trail and about a half mile of double-track (if the snow is clear, otherwise we'll take an all-paved detour around these sections), though nothing is too intense for standard 23mm road tires at typical pressure. What with the weather and the terrain, it's our way of giving nod to the spring races across the pond.
And if you're not game for the whole thing, don't worry, the course offers plenty of opportunities to bail and head for the comfort of home or car. (However, packing your own map is recommended.)
The "race" starts at Southampton Township Park. It finishes at the top of Strohm road (the high point of the TNR course) at the "M & M Roofing" sign.
2010: Jon Marshall (1st), Dr. Goatesauce (2nd), Tim Cusick (3rd) ... limp chicken award (last-placed finisher): Rider Big E.
We call this a "race," but it's really just a bunch of guys and gals out looking for a good time on a cold Saturday morning. We race, yes, and there's usually a little something fun for the first finishers, but there are no entry fees, no waivers, and therefore no whining if something bad happens to you while on this ride (like you crash and break your carbon frame or someone insults your girlfriend). If you're the kind of person that doesn't play well with others, please don't come. This non-event event is for non-fun-haters only.
For more about Ship Cycling, please visit us on the web.
at 11:53 AM
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
The price of a little sun is apparently frigid cold. But it's a price I'll gladly pay. Hello sunshine!
Rode this morning for a couple of hours. Had to tackle the sub-20 degree temps with both balaclava and ski goggles. My face still got a little cold on the rapid descent from Big Flat, but otherwise I was fine.
And there was sunshine. Lots of it. But now, as I look out my window, I see it's all clouded up again. Winter in pee-aay stinks.
at 1:13 PM