Tuesday, April 15, 2014

weapon of choice

This is one of the happiest things I know:

I've written it before elsewhere, but it's worth repeating: this is perhaps the most important music video of the century.


Because it calls into question the inevitability of growing irrelevant with age.  It's an expression of a harmony that is possible, but by no means assured, between the grace that comes with age and youthful exuberance and innovation.  Note that the onus falls on the elders to remain relevant.  The old can come and meet the young, with effort.  But when the old demand that the young meet them on their terms generations divide.

I'm also in love with the triumphant Christian motif at the end.  First of all, happy sailboats on peaceful summer waters as a representations of Calvary's hill is brilliant in and of itself.  But as a backdrop to the dignified elation of an older, weathered man--the end of a life worth living--upon finding his salvation (in communion with humanity across generations) it is just genius.

One hundred percent love.

Monday, April 7, 2014

battenkill on film

Colin Sandberg had a video camera on his bike.  He posted some fun footage from a critical stretch.  And there's really cool performance metrics integrated, so that's awesome.

Bike racing is cool.

2014 tour of the battenkill

Monday morning.  Tired.  A little depleted.  Would rather be just lying around than trying to get back to work.  Post-race weekend blues...

There's surely a whole lot of things I could and maybe should write about the weekend, but too tired to be clever and/or comprehensive, and with too much pressing to indulge this bit of procrastination long, I'll simply toss out some thoughts in the most lazy form possible: bullet points.

* Has the popularity of the Tour of the Battenkill ran its course?  The cat 2 field was small (maybe 80?).  And was there only one cat 3 field?  Kind of disappointed with this, actually.  I like this race.  And I like the idea of it being a major goal for a significant portion of the NE/mid-Atlantic racing population.  Gives (or gave) it the feel of a sort of championship event. 

* Heavy rains Friday night eased up Saturday morning.  The cat 2 race was the first to go off at 8:30.  Cold, wet start, mushy, peanut-butter filled dirt roads, but nice not to have to fight stragglers on the course.

* Everyone seems to have got the memo that early breaks don't work in this race.  So there was no serious break.  I wish there had been.  I think it would have kept the racing more consistently fast...instead of leisurely through the flats punctuated with brief periods of ferocity on the climbs.

* I say the pace was ferocious on the climbs, but not really.  Strava confirms that last year was faster on Juniper Swamp and Joe Bean.  The wet, sticky conditions could account for the slower speeds on the dirt climbs (it is certainly a factor), but not on the paved stuff.

* A lot of dudes don't know how to ride a road bike in the mud.  I sort of feel like everybody has a little cyclocross experience by this point, but I guess that's not true.  Watching people try (and sometimes fail spectacularly) to run with and remount their bikes was pure comedy.

* I was a little out-classed in this race, at least by the top dozen or so.  I would get gapped a little by the leaders at the top of each climb, but I was right there and it was easy to chase back on until...

* Everything exploded on Harrington Hill and then through the Meetinghouse Rd section.  On Meetinghouse I was somewhere in the teens, lined out with a series of not-super-well-grouped riders, when I flatted...I think about 12 miles from the finish.  Had to wait a bit for the support car.  Not a super fast wheel change.  But then off and running.

* Mopped up several riders on the run to Stage Rd.  Ditched them on the climb.  Caught one more rider on the flats to the finish.  Ended up 27th.  Alan 9th.  Calvin 14th.  Bernie (I think) 16th.

* I was stronger than my placing, but maybe not top 10 strong.  A few percentage points short, unfortunately.

* Raced the 35+ on Sunday.  I think only 50 starters.  Surprising...and a bit disappointing.

* No breakaway attempts in this race at all...not until Joe Bean, anyway.

* Super slow through the flats, a gentlemanly punchy pace up the climbs.

* Easier for me to stay in the front on the climbs in this race.  (I actually felt better at the start on Sunday than I did on Saturday).

* Things again exploded with 20 to go on Harrington Hill.  Had a really hard time punching out from the beginning, but once I was warmed up I moved to the front of the stragglers and was looking at about 100 m to the lead group of eight.  It was one of those moments...  I remember thinking that a top 10 finish was up the road, and that if I wanted it I had to go get it.  But that it would be hard.  I wanted it.  It was hard.  But I closed the gap by the top of the climb...and unfortunately pulled up five or six with me.

* On Meetinghouse I began to feel I was one of the strongest of those left around me (first time I felt this way all day), I was certainly descending faster and with more confidence, and was wishing the race was another 20 miles long.

* Right at the crest of Meetinghouse two guys slipped away, a third jumped to join them.  Four of us chasing behind.  They only had 15 feet or so going over the hill and I thought we were together.  Before I knew it we weren't.  One more joined us from behind, one was dropped from the group in front.  So going onto Stage Rd there were two ahead...then my group of six.

* Midway up Stage I tried to push the pace and drop my compatriots, thought I must have dislodged one or two, but over the top was distressed to find that I had simply dragged all five up and over with me.

* Trading turns on the run to the finish I plotted how to dump these guys.  Not wanting to take my chances in a sprint, I attacked with about 1200 m to go.  Had a nice gap.  But didn't keep up the pace like I should have.  They pulled me back in with about 300 m to go.  That's the moment I would do over.  Finished 8th.  Fifty bucks.

* Three plus hours of racing and it all comes down to your mental fortitude over the span of a few seconds...  And that's the beauty and anguish of bike racing.

* The weekend was punctuated by driving over to Stage Rd for the finish of the elite women's and P/1 men's field.  Calvin, Alan, and I stripped down to the waist, made ourselves ridiculous, and screamed like maniacs as we ran alongside the racers up a steep section of the Stage Rd climb.  Good times.  (I think it better not to provide the interwebs with photographic evidence of our shenanigans.)

Alan, Calvin, myself, and Bernie after Saturday's 82-mile cat 2 race.  Notice how my front wheel (acquired from the Vittoria support vehicle behind us) is cleaner...well, everything.
Feed zone shot on day 2.