Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Symbol.


On the shortest day of the year, I take time to salute my trusty NiteRider light.  She has guided me across darkened streets, muddy trails, but most often along our beloved city loop alone or in a frenetic nocturnal paceline.

It is also the day that registration opens for the 2011 Tour of the Battenkill.  That said, I am signed up.  So is Barry.  Maybe Mark Hekman will jump into the fray next?  I think he should. 

With many short days ahead, the light and I will again enter into our winter bond:  For me, she will cast light upon steel grates, potholes, animal carcasses, and the rear end of the rider I'm following.  For her, I will pedal hard to ensure a frosty breeze keeps her metal heatsinks cool.  She's low maintenance.

And when the sun again lingers late into the evening and I can put her away for awhile, I will remember her glow as it was on these cold winter nights.  But, as Mr. Frost has written, "I have miles to go before I sleep" and it will be many weeks before this old girl gets a rest.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Redux.

Tomorrow, registration opens for the 2011 Tour of the Battenkill.  Like a moth to the flame, I will return to upstate NY in April for one of the most unique, large-scale bike races in the U.S. 

This also means that training must commence.  The 2011 course is slightly different, and measurably harder than the 2010 edition due to some rerouting around construction near the town of Greenwich, NY. Barry, Porter and I are confirmed for Pirate Race Productions, and we hope to hook up with Frank Yeager from Richmond Velo Sports.  All in all, this is going to be a heckuva time.

Despite not finishing the race last year (broken shifter cable at mile 42, remember?), I enjoyed the journey immensely.  For 2011, now that I know what to expect, I can tweak the training, set-up the bike, and even eat more effectively than last year.  Truly, just crossing the line would be a thrilling feeling, and I fully plan to do that with my teammates this year.

Now that we're back to where we were just about a year ago, I'll suggest you read that fateful original post.  Great to see that Barry, who made a foreshadowing comment, is now committed.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Winter Training.

Barry, Porter and I hit the roads of Surry and Wilkes Counties for a gnarly spin Porter likes to call "The Beast of the Brushies."  He's referring to the Brushy Mountains, of course.  Read about them here.

Anyway, the summary is that winter training is upon us.  It's forecast to be a cold winter in NC, which means daddy needs some sweet new gloves and a balaclava. 

Barry, as usual, nailed the write-up and it's on his blog.  Check it!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

http://www.vsporthealth.com/fallout-camp

We had a blast.  PERFECT training for America's Queen of the Classics.  We'll go back in the spring of 2011 for a little last minute torture prior to hitting 95 North...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Preview.


Climbing camp is definitely coming! 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Climbing camp is coming...

Coach and I are hosting a small cycling camp two weeks from now.  The location:  Meadows of Dan, in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. The goal:  Bring a few like-minded Battenphiles along to suffer, climb, and kick on the off-season training.  Sound strange?  It is.

As the Tour of the Battenkill is an early-season race, one really can't wait until February to start riding in earnest.  North Carolina has a relatively mild winter (usually, knock on wood), hence cycling is often possible through the Dark Months.  Barry, Porter and I are currently planning to demolish the Cat 4 field, but that is simply a plan at this time - the execution requires quite a bit of work.  Our first steps include building a training framework specific to our early season focus.

I'll be scouting roads for most of the morning tomorrow, along with my good buddy Bus.  Bus and his lovely wife Amy will support the camp as well, cooking for the riders and providing some SAG support.  All in all, this is shaping up to be a solid 'proof of concept' test for the larger camp we plan to offer other teams in the Spring of 2011. 

Preview pictures to come tomorrow...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

CL.

Back on the bike tonight. 

The Cervelo has been back for a few days now, and reassembly took place hours after its return.  It was time to test it out.

Coach was hosting Book Club tonight at the house, which meant that it was time to make myself scarce.  Cisco "TA" Morales and Dr. Rob ponied up for a City Loop after work.  After a brisk 26 mph warm-up down Country Club (yipes), we settled in to a short CL before doing 5 repeats on the Buena Vista hill.  Needless to say, Cisco won every single repeat while Rob and I licked our wounds.

Jeez it hurt, but it feels good to be back.  Climbing Camp weekend is less than a month away...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What I've been up to.

I have to admit, it has been strange to be without my road bike for the past month.  Very strange.

At first, I had those recurring thoughts that spontaneously enter the mind of a habitual rider:  "When will I ride next?  Man, that last ride was hard!  Wonder if Mitch and Barry wanna ride on Saturday?  I better mow the lawn Friday evening since I'll be on the bike for 4 hours Saturday and will probably want a nap afterwards."

Within a week, the thoughts and feelings became more dramatic:  "I can feel my legs undergoing atrophy, I am definitely slower than person X now and person Y has been riding alot, too.  I wonder if I could borrow someone's bike."

Some thoughts bordered on the extreme:  "What if I just buy a new bike now, and sell the Cervelo when it gets back?!  Yeah, that's the ticket!"

I pushed through the madness with Barry's help.  I'm borrowing his 'cross bike and trying to ride once a week or so.  Rob also came through big when the CLM 100K rolled around.  He loaned me his Storck Fenomalist with Shimano Di2.  In a word, that system is seamless.  I still cramped up, however, so it's not perfect.
Despite all of this, I am still twitching and worrying that my form is evaporating.  Comforting words such as "it's almost the off-season anyway" will find no home here.  Beyond the physical aspect (I am well aware of my pack-fill amateur rider status...it's all relative), it has been so long since I've been off the bike that I've forgotten how much I rely on it for my mental health.

My ever-patient wife and Coach will tell you that I've been challenging at times.  When on the bike, just tell me what you want me to do and I'll do my best to lay it down.  However, leave me around the house with most tasks accomplished and chores completed, and I might get a bit grumpy.  Fortunately, Jill has sensed this flaw in me and kept us busy with fun stuff, visiting friends, and a wonderful trip to the fall festivals of the NC high country.  With a trip to Baltimore coming up later this week and plenty to do in preparation, I think I'll make it through ok.

The bike is currently at Calfee, and should be back by Halloween, give or take a few days.  Once that re-build is final, I might not post up for a while as you'll be more likely to find me out on the road.  Until then, I'll be thinking of this thing called 'cycling' and how it is far more than a physical activity and a means to hang out with friends.  More and more, I'm relating to the subtitle of Barry's blog:  interpretation through cycling.  I continue to see cycling as a metaphor representing many aspects of life, but even after 4 weeks, I almost feel like I'm seeing a story written by someone else instead of by me and that's not a bad thing.

After all, interpretation must be taken from more than one view, even if the landscape seen from the saddle seems the most meaningful at the time.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Out of Commission.


What you see here is the left seatstay on my R3.  Yep, cracked.  And no, I do not need to cut back on the Krispy Kreme doughnuts. 

Last night, I was making a left turn at a T-intersection when the car 90 degrees to my left pulled out.  I was mostly sure he was stopped and waiting for me to go by, until he lurched forward as I passed the front of his car.  Thankfully he just tagged the rear end of the bike and I didn't even go down.  He stopped (miraculous, and more on that in a second) to be sure I was okay and that my bike wasn't damaged.  Not only that, he handed over all of his information and asked me to call him if I found anything wrong with the bike. 

I rode home, and then began going over the Cerv.  To my surprise, I noticed the cracks in the seatstay.  There is even a bit of a bow to the stay, letting me know (for sure, I didn't really doubt it) that the structure is compromised.  So I call Steve (the guy who hit me) and let him know.  He literally says "I'm so glad to hear your voice, are you feeling ok?"  I am still stunned at his compassion.  We agree that I'll take the bike to a local shop for their opinion.

I visited Mock Orange, where Charles reminded me that Calfee repairs high-end carbon frames.  Hence, a call to Calfee yields critical info - seatstay repairs are 1/4 the cost of a new R3 frame, and repairs can be completed in as little as two weeks.

Now, the real story here is that Winston is possibly not the death-trap for cyclists that we've all been fearing lately.  While Steve and I were talking, another lady stopped to see if I was okay. My suggestions, having been through a close call here, are these:  Obey the traffic laws, use lights (I was), keep cool, and try not to piss drivers off.  You never know when this kind of thing might happen to you or someone you're with and who's watching or listening.   

A few more pics are below.  By the way, I stripped all the gear off the frame for shipping, and this thing is LIGHT.  Just had not idea as he's not been fully 'naked' since I've had him. 

I'll keep you posted as to the outcome of the Calfee send-off, but as the Cerv is my only set of wheels, I'm out of commission for a few weeks.   

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

2011 Tour of the Battenkill Course Preview

As promised, here's my take on the proposed 2011 Tour of the Battenkill course.  Dieter Drake and Andrew Bernstein took us around the new loop, which turned up at just over 63 miles per my odometer. 

The first 35 or so miles are unchanged from last year.  Following a 1k neutral start, the madness will begin on Rte. 313 as riders jockey for position ahead of the Eagleville Bridge coming around mile 5.  The narrow and slightly uphill lead-in to Roberson Rd., the first dirt section, will give the newbies pause, as they know IT is coming.  A soft landing on dirt and gravel begins the trademark dashes across raw earth between the relatively calm paved sections.  Tooth-rattling vibrations overtake the body as you dare to glance at the speedometer.  32mph, it says.  On dirt.  With 100 of your closest friends.

Once regrouped on Camden Valley Rd. the group's anxiety will build toward Juniper Swamp.  The smart racers will be at the front by mile 10 so as to be near the arrowhead once the rush up Juniper Swamp begins.  The steep, dirt hill will cripple those unprepared, and I predict another single-file line down the other side and into Shushan.  Fortunately, the descent is smooth and holds a gentle curve allowing nearly brake-free insanity.

The route is relatively calm until the assault on Joe Bean Rd. begins.  Last year, the peloton really shattered over Joe Bean as it has 6 or so 'humps' that make it feel like you're climbing stairs on your bike.  Ow.  Make it over these humps with the leaders and you had a good shot of recovering on the way into Greenwich before the feed zone. 

Significant, however, are the changes that follow. 

Last year, racers hung a hard right on 29 and zipped across several mundane miles of pavement until arriving in the town of Greenwich and a big, sweeping left turn toward the last feed zone.  That hard right on 29 came just after a wicked climb up Joe Bean Rd. and rapid descent along Bunker Hill Rd. to the dirt section of Ferguson Rd. 

According to Dieter, we'll hang a LEFT on 29 this year before taking what is probably a 100 degree right turn toward Carney-Cassidy Rd.  This new section, upon first glance, looks charming with its shady ambience and fine gravel.  Wrong.  Coming off of Joe Bean and powering down Bunker Hill and Ferguson is tiring, and the addition of a series of gravel hills (not unlike a dirt Joe Bean Rd.) on CC really tosses in the lactic acid.  Rest assured moves will be made here, as the views from the top will inspire the breakway artists who like to fight gravity.  Here's a peek of the start of CC Rd.  Innocent looking, eh?  Don't be fooled.  She goes up and up and up from there.  Better keep your head down and stay in the pack here or you might be lost and gone forever, son.


The remainder of the roads, as noted by Andrew, are less remarkable than the addition of Carney-Cassidy and serve just to get one back to the crown jewels of the course - Mountain, Becker, Meeting House, and Stage Roads.  Even with tired legs, these roads were a treat to ride with Andrew and Dieter, despite Dieter's bad luck with flats and a snapped derailleur cable.

The 2011 course, as it stands currently, will skip the town of Greenwich due to bridge construction.  Come next April, I might wish for that section of 29 again, but as of now I'm plotting my escape...

Big thanks to Dieter and Andrew for showing a couple of Carolina boys around a wicked course.  The 2011 edition of the race is sure to be interesting, and we all agreed the addition of the new section is an improvement, apart from the necessity of skipping the town of Greenwich. 

Verdict:  An American Classic gets even better with the addition of more of the same madness that makes the race so fascinating and challenging to begin with.  Registration opens in December, so grab some gusto and think hard about it. 

See you in April.

Monday, September 6, 2010

We're Back.

Barry and I are fresh back from NY.  Well, not really fresh as last night's campsite didn't have any showers.  Regardless, what a killer trip.  To say that the weather, the vistas, or rides were anything but spectacular is a crime.  Hurricane Earl stayed away, temps dropped into an autumnal range, and the new folks we met are genuinely kind. 

I'll sum up the trip briefly here, then return in a day or two with a full preview of the 2011 Tour of the Battenkill course.  Dieter Drake, race director, was beyond gracious in his invitiation to show us around the 2011 course. Changes for next year, as judged from my saddle, are significant in effect if not in size.  More to come...

As for the trip, my lovely sister-in-law offered up her Manhattan apartment as our 3/4-way house, allowing us to break up the trip and enjoy a wonderfully schizophrenic combination of city and country.  We enjoyed the surreal views from her balcony and the flavors of Little Italy.


The next morning, we picked up the car from the parking garage.  Let it be known that if we were to park a car at said garage for one month, we would owe them roughly $340.  What is the fee for two bikes, I wonder?


Nevermind that, we had miles to make.  We hooked up with Dieter and Andrew (Andrew Bernstein is from the excellent Goodbye Blue Mondays blog, among other sports-related publications) at the Cambridge Hotel at high noon.  The plan: Recon the course and, if we survived, offer some feedback on the changes for 2011.  Currently, Dieter plans to release the full details of the course and host a supported pre-ride in October. 

Our Cat 2 guides were kind enough to show some mercy on us, and we returned the favor (tongue in cheek, here) when Dieter suffered two flats and a broken rear shifter cable around mile 40. 


This was cruel fate for yours truly as I pulled out of the 2010 edition of this race with - that's right - a broken rear shifter cable at mile 40.  Now I have the pleasure of watching Dieter finish off the course with relative ease in his 11-tooth cassette.  I'll just chalk it up to it being his home turf. 

We finished off the ride and hit up the Cambridge Hotel for lunch.  Great food and cold beer to boot.  The four of us killed a pile of nachos then wolfed down some burgers.  Andrew had to get back to work, while Barry and I needed to get to our campsite and settle in.  As a side note, we 'greased' this whole deal by agreeing to bring some Duke's mayonnaise north of the Mason-Dixon.  I won't name names here, but someone in the Drake family really likes the stuff.  A parting shot from the historic Cambridge Hotel.


Once back at the campsite, we pitched tents and built a fire.  The skies cleared off and the temps dropped significantly, right into perfect camping weather.  We sat for a long while, reviewing the day and laughing at the near-death experiences and ripping-fast descents. 


The next morning, we hit up the roads around Cambridge, Shushan, and even a bit into Vermont for a spin before heading south.  Barry and I were to be found full of oatmeal and french press coffee.  We had time to revisit the first three dirt sections of the course before making tracks back to the south.  A quick shot as we rolled out for the Sunday morning spin, sporting our new lids.


Now pressed for time, we grabbed a quick lunch at the Cambridge Hotel and headed south.  Our journey coming to an end, we reflected on the trip.  So much can be said for the warm welcome we received in Cambridge, and riding the course with the race director was an experience to savor.  Andrew's perspective made for fascinating discussions on the race and cycling as a whole, and Barry is a rockin' road trip partner. 

Tonight, we're back in NC - but already thinking of the journey that will come again next spring.  Until then, there will be many cold days and nights, sessions on the trainer, dietary modifications, gravel grinds and heart rate monitoring. 

We can't wait.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Pilgrimage.

This weekend, Barry and I will point his wife's highly fuel-efficient Honda to the north and in the direction of The Empire State.  We hatched the idea of a Labor-Day-weekend-whirlwind-trip to NY following a long ride several weeks ago.  All of my incessant talking about the Tour of the Battenkill finally got to him, and he realized that the only cure for his new fever was to go there himself.  Of course, I've got to go along...for supervision.

Once north of the Mason-Dixon, we'll park in NYC overnight Friday ($$$) and crash at my very hospitable sis-in-law's Manhattan apartment.  Granted, I don't relish the thought of driving into NYC on a Friday afternoon, but it's going to happen.  Saturday will find us cruising the roads of the race course, taking pics, relishing the forecasted New England weather (stay away Hurricane Earl), and mashing pedals on rather large clincher tires.  We're camping overnight Saturday along the Battenkill river, then going out for some more miles Sunday once we rustle ourselves from our tents. 

It's okay to be jealous.  It's hard to contain my excitement right now, too.  It's also okay to wonder if this fever will eventually consume me and possibly Barry as well.  Time will tell.

Check back for updates next weekend.  Gonna be hard to sleep 'till then.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Dish Best Served Cold.

Of course, I speak of revenge.  While not one of the most attractive of sentiments, it is usually interesting.  A scorned lover, a grudge among regional enemies, or even among players on the world stage.  This, however, had more to do with me vs. a ride that got my goat three years ago.

In 2007, following a bit of rehab from a cracked collarbone and scapula, I signed up for the Tour de Gaps on a whim.  The next morning, I drove up to Mt. Airy, signed in at Westwood Park and had what was easily my worst day on a bike ever.  Intending to the full 82-mile route, I cramped out after the second (of four) big climbs around mile 40 and limped home in 5:15.17 with somewhere around 65 miles in the legs.  Defeated.

This year, I've raced a good bit more, trained harder, eaten more effectively and frankly tried to add a little anger to my rides. That's not to say I mashed pedals the whole way, but it can be said that I was determined.  On to the ride...

Leaving Westwood Park with this group is always a shock to the system as the pace is rather quick.  The group rocketed through Mt. Airy's suburbs and was shortly heading north toward the Blue Ridge.  Around mile 12, we encountered a steep hill on Pedigo Ridge that put some separation into the group.  I saw Brian Porter in the group ahead and made sure to make this selection.  Within minutes, we arrived at the base of the first gap (Squirrel Spur) at mile 18.  I held up briefly to try and regroup with Barry and Mitch, but the pace of the group drew me forward shortly thereafter. 

Descending Squirrel Spur is just a blast.  The pace up hadn't been so scorching as to wipe everyone out, so the descent was pretty aggressive and fast.  The fella in front of me nearly kissed some guardrail as he overshot the first hard right after a 50mph straight.  A nervous laugh and exchange of glances and the meteoric return to the humid valley continued...

The rollers between the gaps are the real devils in this ride.  Friends Mission Rd. and Old Schoolhouse Rd. are probably the most famous offenders.  I slid into a small group of 5 (Diana Conn, Brian Porter, two other dudes, and me) to cover the wretched ground between gaps 1 and 2.  We eventually caught the first group on the road, containing none other than Joe Hutchins.  Good times.  This group then dwindled to just three of us (Dianna, Joe, me) by the top of the second gap, with Brian Porter rejoining us on the descent.  Four guys were up the road ahead of us, and probably not coming back

Two down, two to go.  It was at this point three years ago that I began to question my ability to finish the ride.  It was clear I wasn't going to climb all four gap roads, but even my arrival back to the start/finish was in doubt!  This year, things were looking much better.  After the second gap descent, we had to face Old Schoolhouse Road.  Wow.  Pure misery.  The best part?  There is a cameraman right there, perfectly placed to catch you dismount and roll into the ditch in full body cramps.

Onward to Orchard Gap and now we were only three - Joe, Diana, me.  Diana's husband Jeremy was cruising up the road in 2nd place, so we made it our unspoken goal to get her as close to his finishing time as possible.  She was already the only female rider in sight, so her Queen of the Mountain status was cemented. The Orchard Gap climb is probably the easiest of the four, and after a quick swap of bottles at the top, we rocketed back down once again.  Here I saw Mitch cruising up solo, so I gave him a big shout and I'm pretty sure he heard me.

By this time, the excitement was building.  One gap to go, three of us sitting in the top 10, and legs are tired but holding up.  There is a good bit of road between the third and fourth gaps, and during this time Diana's right-hand shifter started acting up.  She had the cable replaced a week ago, and wondered if something was amiss following the repair work.  Hmmm.  After a robust *smack* the shifter started working again.

At the base of Piper's Gap, we agreed to regroup at the bottom if separation occurred on the climb.  Once off Piper's, there is about 15 miles of road to the finish, and a group is much faster over those rolling roads than a solo rider.  I hit the top first, followed closely by Joe.  Diana later told us that in trying to catch up to us on the desecent, she passed a car!  That's awesome.  Again I saw Porter rolling up and Mitch 'all over his machine'.

The road back in was just joyful.  Finally I was going to make it, with a solid time, top 10 placing, and no real cramps.  Well, I spoke too soon.  On the LAST hill, where we made contact with Barry, I finally began to feel the cramps creeping into the hammys and quads.  No way.  No way was this going to stop the ride or slow us down.  Less than 5 miles to go and feeling a second (sixth?) wind, fighting off the urge to focus on the cramps or the pessimism they bring.  Time to stomp it.

Joe and I crank it up just as Diana's shifter finally gives up the ghost.  She tucked in behind Barry while Joe and I pushed ahead.  Shockingly, we see the 4th place guy about 100m ahead.  We're within a 1/2 mile of the finish.  Nearly 82 miles and here were are sprinting for 4th.  Unfortunately, Mr. 4th had some gas left and once he detected us sneaking up, he fired up the afterburners and got us.  I nearly caught him at the finish chute, but: 1) it was too dangerous to sprint through there, and 2) it wasn't worth it.

Overall, 5th place.  Granted, some of the previous winners were not there and that helps the placing but I will take it.  They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but I'll take mine on an August afternoon, at about 88 degrees with some pretty heavy humidity.  Huge thanks to Diana, Porter, and Joe for all the help on the ride.  That was a blast!  Until next year...

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Call to Arms.

After a near victory in a Dixie crit a few years ago, to a horrendous crash fracturing a scapula and clavicle at the same venue, to a near-miss of a parking meter at 25mph in a Brevard, NC crit, I left the adrenaline-junkie-world of crit racing behind.  I've rarely missed it.

Her Siren song has again filled my ears, however, and putting aside most of my good judgement I am heading back to the short-course phenomenon known as the criterium.

This weekend, I'll be in Wilkes County, NC racing at the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway.  It's a former NASCAR track, and though it's been out of use for many years, Pirate Race Productions has resurrected it with a non-technical course along its banked corners.

I have to admit trepidation is creeping in, but I might just use some of that fire to grab a prime or antagonize a breakaway.  We'll see.  I haven't been training specifically for crits and being a bit skinny, it's not my best discipline.  Enough with the excuses, though, let's line 'em up on Saturday and see how it goes.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dirty Work.

Yesterday, I got the itch to do an evening ride.  So, I text up the CLM folks to see what's happening...no luck for a group ride as people are scattered about.   Miraculously, Cam writes back to say he might do a few laps at Salem Lake.  Fo' real!?  Unfortunately, "Lawyer of the Year" Elise was snarled in traffic meaning Cam had to bail just before the ride.  My solution?  Go solo and get an indy ride in for good measure.

I was a little worried about the conditions at Salem Lake, as we had some fierce rain on Wednesday night...monsoon material!  So, with 25c Gatorskin Hardshells in place, I hit the road.  Easing toward Salem Lake, there were some signs of earlier flooding - clumps of leaves and twigs on the side of the road, streaks of red mud across pavement.  Once on the greenway, things became more ominous...especially when I came to the portion that passes under Reynolds Park Rd.


Alrighty then!  I dismounted and hiked up the berm to Reynolds Park Rd and down the other side, safely avoiding the water.  After cruising another 1/2 mile or so, I was again greeted by the swollen stream.


 
No way around this one, and with the path descending to just above creek level when the water is low, I was hesistant to end up on the 11 o'clock news.  I backtracked to the Reynolds Park Rd berm and hopped up to the asphalt.  I headed out RP Rd to Waughtown and Linville Rds, hoping to access the far side of Salem Lake then backtrack to the main parking / entrance area.  To be honest, I'd never ridden those two roads and was happy to find myself on the far side of the lake within 10-15 minutes. 

Once back on the lake trail, I was off and running.  It's not too hard to hold 18-20mph on a road bike over that section when the rain has packed down the dirt.  Of course, slowing for corners is not to be overlooked and I almost ate it a few times. 


Once back to the pavement, I rolled home through the Research Park and 4th St.  Amazing to see how busy 4th St is on a Thursday night.  I remember in my childhood wondering if Winston-Salem even had a downtown, now it's a bustling area of shops, arts, and restaurants that really charms.

What didn't charm, however, was the mud I picked up en route.  I feel like Barry posting a pic like this, but hey, if the shoe, uh, fits...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A New Adventure.

http://www.vsporthealth.com/
For a few years now, Jill and I have been talking about the prospect of starting a small coaching / first-aid / sport company-type-thing of some kind.  Well, following our relative success with pre-season training for my trip to Battenkill and a few others local / regional races, we thought we might be on to something.  She likes to build, tweak, and analyze training plans and data, and I like to get the word out, ride with folks, race, and help from behind the scenes on the electronic end.  In addition, we're teaming up with Debra Benfield to offer nutrition support as part of our design.

After a fateful meeting with a racer from a growing national cycling / promotions group (to be named later, once agreements are finalized), we started thinking - why not start out with a group of interested racers / competitors and see what we can do?  Once our proposal was smiled-upon, we got busy finalizing plans and working on the organizational / PR side of things - webiste, twitter, facebook, and yes even legal stuff. 

This is Jill's operation, but you might read "our" in here from time to time as I'll be in a supportive role wherever possible.  The short-term goals are to build a base of very happy (and speedy) folks benefitting from our plans and support.   Long-term?  Who knows - but you can be sure that if this takes off a bit, we'll be bringing some well-prepared folks to Cambridge, NY in April 2011. 

Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Champs.

http://www.usacycling.org/results/index.php?year=2010&id=1947&info_id=28256

Results from the USA Masters Road Cycling Championships.  Two of our own (from W-S) landed stars-and-stripes jerseys.  I'm happy to say that I've raced on a team with Tussey and been reeled in on a hill more than once by Rip. 

Kudos to these two champs!  Can't wait to see em' back in The Dash.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Repost from the CLM blog.

So I decided to stick the ride report over on the CLM blog since a few of us rolled the metric century together.  Check it out and keep the rubber side down.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Prep.

Oatmeal.  Water.  Bananas.  Big Lunch.  Big Dinner.  More water.  Another banana?  Yes.

Saturday brings the Hurt, Pain & Agony 66 mile ride to benefit The American Cancer Society. 

I will have at least 3 allies in the ride, and I hope a few more.  Pics to come Saturday afternoon with a ride report.  The only downside?  Weather - it's supposed to be in the upper 90's on Saturday.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

de Gaps! de Gaps!

Well, really only one gap.  As you will also see evidence of this on the CLM blog and Barry's blog, I won't overdo it.

Next week is the (in)famous Hurt, Pain, & Agony ride and we're all stoked to hit it.  That said, we needed to hit some climbs longer than those we typically find between our front doors and Pilot Mtn.  Barry suggested to do part of the Tour de Gaps route and the idea stuck. 

Today, I found myself in a gravel parking lot beside Reeves Community Center in Mt. Airy at 8:00 am with Barry.  Mitch and Cisco were to arrive shortly to make our group a merry 4.  Our plan:  Hop on the Tour de Gaps route up to the top of Squirrel Spur (4 mile climb at around 7%, I would guess) and on to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Shortly after departing the parking lot, we crossed into a state known to be for lovers.
The roads to the bottom of Squirrel Spur were perfect for a morning ride.  Farmland as far as one could see, until one could see the Blue Ridge Mtns creep into the frame.  On the lower slopes of the climb, the humidity made itself truly known and we all began to sweat buckets.  Climbing around the first two corners, we could already see across the valley and back to the roads below.  At this point, Cisco increased the pace a bit and I latched on with my elastic band.

The climb up Squirrel Spur is actually very nice.  The grade is mild and the pavement very good.  Very little traffic exists here so you are indeed left to your thoughts and free from distraction.  Unless, of course, you are distracted by the worrying amounts of sweat leaving your body.  I did a little math and quickly surmized that I would run out of fluid on the way back.  Other distractions?  The sveltle cyclist in front of you dancing on the pedals and looking rather fresh.  True, he does not have a front derailleur on his bike and that is like, 70 grams, but surely that couldn't help him TOO much.  Or could it?

My previous experience on the climb helped as it is a steady, unrelenting grade.  Overcook it once, and it will nash its teeth into your cramping gastrocnemius.  Cisco and I regrouped at the top with Barry rapidly closing.  Impressive.  The descent was downright hair-raising and may have taked a few years off my life as I maxed out at 49 mph.  Not bad for a toothpick on wheels!

Apart from the wonderful friends on this outing, a key highlight was the stop at a corner store.  We grabbed some Gatorade and yes, some homemade fudge.  The woman behind the counter essentially convinced us to buy it and I am glad we did.  Yummy sugar goodness.
In summary:  Climbing was good, friends were better, and I think we're as ready as we can be for HPA.  Oh, and Mitch won the haybale climbing competition.  You should've seen him bunny hopping across that row!  Yee-haw!
                                             

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Hotness.

And I don't mean in a good way.  Rob and I set out to meet Barry on our way to Pilot Mtn. this evening.  With temps in the 90s and the humidity creeping up into the "I didn't know I could even sweat this much" category, it was going to be a good one.

Rob and I whistled out to Donnaha Rd. and shortly found Barry chilling out under a shade tree's loving shelter.  Climbing up Donnaha, we each looked at the others thinking "what are we doing, it's way too hot for this."

Despite the beckoning of reason, we pushed on.  Up Spainhour Mill and Perch Rds, finally cresting at Pinnacle and taking a good look at our nemesis.

We made our way up the beast slowly but surely, with Rob making quick work of Barry and me.  After a requisite stop at the Ranger station for some cold water, we soldiered back south.  I was thinking we had a bit of headwind on the way out, and was looking forward to a little push on the way home.  More likely, however, is that the air was so thick and still that it actually takes a bit more work to push through its lushness than on our beloved crisp October days.

Barry peeled off at Donnaha to get home, so I was left to deal with Rob and his 4 quadzillion mitochondrial pulls.  All ended well as even the Rob was glad to see our last stopsign. 

All of this, of course, is to get us ready for the Hurt, Pain, & Agony ride coming up in just over a week.  60-some miles in the hills around Stone Mtn will certainly be a good challenge, so we figured a little practice was in order. 

Oh, and that subject line above?  The hotness?  Well, here you go (hide the women and children).

Friday, July 9, 2010

Twenty Eleven.

After a few months of deliberation, lengthy discussions with Coach, and an arduous pilgrimage through the process of replacing shifter cables, I have decided to head back to Cambridge, NY in April 2011.   Some would say this 'decision' is even more exciting that LeBron's 30-minute ego stroke last night...and I would agree.

I have to admit, just the thought of lining up again is enough to send the heart racing, to get that tingle in your legs, and to dream big about next time.

For now, I'll enjoy the summer rides and do a race here and there.  All in all, driving slowly but surely toward the goal of placing well in the 2011 Tour of the Battenkill.  The question really is:  Who's with me?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hanging Rock

My buddy Cisco and I hit a hard ride to the mtns and back this morning.  Painful as it is to remember, I blogged about it anyway over on the CLM blogspot.  Check it out and feel good about your current fitness!

http://cityloopmafia.blogspot.com/2010/06/from-our-driveways-to-hanging-rock-and.html

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Roan Mtn Road Race

Bib:  419
Category:  4
Time:  1:53:00.000
Place:  12
Racing Age: 33
Name:  Grant, Erich
Team:  Unattached
Hometown:  Winston Salem NC

Unattached? Unattached??  I specifically put CLM on the sign-up forms and the release.  Wow.  Somebody better check their brake lines.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The weather, and being under it.

A holiday weekend.  Lovely weather.  Roads begging to be ridden.  A shortage of Pepto Bismol.

The High Point City Crits made their inaugural run in, uh, High Point this weekend.  Coach and I helped out by providing a First Aid station to the unfortunate racers who decided to dance a little too closely with the asphalt.  Really, Coach did 99% of it and I just sat around watching or making sure the beer garden was fully operational. 

Unfortunately, I woke up Saturday morning with a very nauseous stomach and that 'feeling' you get when a virus is coming on:  achy muscles, headache, a chill here and there.  I decided to send Coach on to HP without me, planning to join her later.  This was hard to do, as there was quite a bit of set-up to be done:  a tent, table, chairs, and bags of medical supplies.  But, my body demanded some rest and after half a Phenergan, I drifted off...

Around 4pm I got the call that Amy and Bus were heading down to the race, so I summoned my consciousness and rose from the bed.  Riding down to HP was a blur, and I really didn't feel so good upon arrival.  I tried to sit still, walk around, sit again, but the nausea just came in waves.  It was one of those situations where one wishes IT would just happen, then all would be well. 

I almost got my chance at IT, as a wave of nausea greater than all those previous arrived at my esophagus.  I am fairly sure this followed Mitch's comment about 'waffles' as I was ok 'till then.   Like a wounded beast, I decided to wander off in hopes of finding a gentle creek by which I could simply fall over and die.  Relief was not to be mine, as the semi-heaves left all poisons within.  I did a few laps of the crit course on foot with skin a lighter shade of green. 

Soon after, chills began in earnest.  By the time we packed up the truck and got on the road to W-S, I was trying to run the heat, while Coach was rolling down her window.  Uh oh.  At home, we confirmed my fever:  101.2F.  It was going to be a long night. 

Today, I feel 50% better and have actually eaten a bit.  By my count, I've managed around 1200 calories in two days, with at least 900 of those calories today.  I'm glad to be feeling better, but this is worrisome for racing next weekend as it takes me a bit to store up carbs for a race.  Not to mention that I haven't ridden since last Wednesday.

What will happen?  Not sure, but as of now I plan to pin the number on next Saturday and stomp it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Jomeokee calls.

Jomeokee is the ancient Native American name for Pilot Mountain.  It means "great guide" or with a little imagination "pilot."  Barry and I, blessed with jobs that occasionally offer an early afternoon escape, met at his house for a quick jaunt to the Great Guide and back. 

As he says in his blog, we felt like the south ends of northbound bulls on the way out.  Finally, after starting up Pilot, we felt a bit better.  I was reminded at times of my winter training rides for the Battenkill.  We had a steady wind out of the north today, so it hounded us most of the way out while providing a bit of help on the way home.  Always good to know which way mutha nature is aiming her favor when on the bike.

After cresting the climb, we enojyed a terrific view of the NC piedmont.  Stellar, really.  A shame that we had to go, but we still had to get home - which is always interesting after a climb up the Great Guide.

It wasn't as bad as we thought, and the wind was favorable.  Arriving back at his house, we agreed that a Wednesday night ride that takes in Pilot Mtn. is a good ride, no matter how we felt.

Next up:  I'm heading down to High Point to work the medical tent for the crits this weekend. Come on down and race a sweet course if you need a crit fix!

A few photos:
heading to the state park.  my nemesis in the background.

sweaty.  not sexy but it's part of the game.

out of the saddle and in my granny gear.  oh well!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Misty Mountains

A few pics from today's EXCELLENT ride in the Blue Ridge Mtns.  Sirena, Lori, Chancey, Barry and I did an out-and-back from Cumberland Knob to Doughton Park and back.  About 46 miles and good hills.  The low clouds, fog and rain really made the ride feel intimate.  This also helped keep the cars away and often times we were to be found 2 and 3 abreast with no cars for many minutes. 

Climbing to Doughton Park


Trying to get some rhythm going



Barry, focused.


We can't wait to do this again.  Perhaps a ride from Boone to Asheville later in the summer?  Gotta get my hill climbin' legs back...

Friday, May 21, 2010

hills, then mountains.

Image:  Unpleasant...post-sprint up the famous Powerline Hill just outside Lewisville, NC yesterday.  I love that one, but Mitch was not so kind as to give any respite, so I had to hammer the whole way.  I thank thee, Mitch.

Tomorrow, a small group of us is heading to the Blue Ridge Parkway for a 50ish mile ride.  I've never ridden the BRP with a crew before, so I'm anticipating a great time.

Monday, May 17, 2010

the mountains win again.

In a nutshell, the tour du life road race caught me by surprise. I know the ups and downs of the blue ridge mtns pretty well, but I'd never really raced among them.

Barry was facing the daunting Cat 5 field, while Mitch and I lined up with the Cat 4s. As mentioned on the CLM blog, we had some stiff competition. The action started quickly as a team of zebra-looking chaps assembled at the front in arrears of Mr. Boone-Roubaix winner. The parade of pain might as well have been a funeral procession for the CLM as first Mitch went backwards shortly followed by yours truly. I managed to pass two guys on the next ascent then catch two more on the long flat before Rush Branch.

On Rush Branch, I had to say goodbye to my two compatriots (thanks for the pulls, Zeb) as they climbed away from me. In the last 12 miles, it felt as if gravity had doubled. I crept up the climbs at caterpillar speeds and at length, cramps crept in.

I was passed by three guys from the race behind me in the last 5 miles, and nearly by a guy in my own field, but thankfully he faded (with my cramps) on the last climb.

12th place in the hardest road race I've done. Needless to say, I've got some work to do in the Mountain dept. Once I get my right hamstring back to reasonable functioning, I plan to do so. Perhaps a weekend ride in the mtns? I bet I can drag some CLMers with me (most are feeling animosity towards gravity at the moment).

Ok, so I just re-read this post and agree (as you're likely thinking right now) that it is boring. Don't fear, more posts of an irresistible and profound nature coming soon.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Back to the hills...

There's an omnium in Boone, NC this weekend and somehow I've been talked into doing it.  Ok, I really wanted to get back into a race after falling off the horse after Battenkill.  I didn't literally fall, just stopped training, started drinking more beer and eating fast food.  Yum.  The group rides have been fun, but I can tell that I'm easily 10% off my form from the beginning of April. 

That said, this will be fun no matter how badly I get shelled.  My CLM homie Mitch will be racing too, so plans will be to stick together and survive.  Even better, Coach and I plan to head home after the race and hit the Greek festival either that night or Sunday...again:  Yum. 

Pictures to follow on Saturday!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Weekend

In a nutshell, since it is late and I should be in bed: 

Drove to Athens, GA late Friday night.  Crashed at hotel.  Got up early Saturday morning and practiced with the band.  Had lunch.  Went to Tasty World (a club downtown) for load in and soundcheck.  Got a slice of pizza, then played a set with the fellas (see above pic).   That rocked.  Then went one block up to watch Team Mountain Khakis race Twilight.  Unfortunately, they didn't make the break and had to chase for like, a zillion laps.  On the last lap, with 6 guys away, the field sprint was marred by a few crashes including one that took out our buddy Mark.  He's ok, but road rash ain't fun, no matter how little there is.  Had pizza with The Legend.  That was something.  Went to bed about 2am.  Got up Sunday morning, got a mocha from Jittery Joe's and hit the road back home.

Back in W-S now, and I'm considering the slim chance of becoming a full-time rock star versus the security of my current career path.  Do we really just get one shot at this life? 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Athens Twilight

Well, I got in two good rides this week but nothing very hard.  I almost feel lazy compared to the workouts I suffered through pre-Battenkill.  I can't help but wonder how much form I'm losing, or if everyone else is just getting up to Spring speed...or both.

No racing for me this weekend, but a good bit of it is on tap for my buddy Mark.  Athens Twilight is on Saturday, so we're hoofin' it down 85 to watch 'em go 'round in circles.  That last sentence had 4 apostrophes in it, only one of which was legit.  I must be getting slack in more than one aspect of my life!

Also, my old band is...you guessed it:  GETTING BACK TOGETHER FOR ONE MORE SHOW.  We just can't let it die, and for good reasons:  It's so fun, plus we aren't terrible so some people actually like to watch us bumble around on stage for 90 minutes.  The show is in Athens, and we planned it specifically to be over prior to the start of the Pro crit.  Love it. 

A week from tonight I plan to be in VA, camping prior to the Mule Hell-Roubaix ride.  We'll see how those plans pan out, but as for now it's a GO.

More pics and fun once I get back from Athens.  

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cycling and Other Things.

Beginning in December 2009, my training for the Tour of the Battenkill became an excuse to let other things go.  I would say Jill carried much of that burden by eating dinner solo a few times per week, and (somehow) surviving 3-4 hours of Saturday morning quiet time while I hauled myself all over the western Piedmont of NC.  I eschewed beer, needless physical labor, yardwork (which I do not consider needless), and sugar sodas (most of the time). 

Now that we're back, I've got some reorganizing, relaxing and catching-up to do.  For example, last night we had a few good friends over and I drank plenty of beer.  Not that I couldn't drink beer 3 weeks ago, but I would have thought about it.  Lame as that might be, it was real.  Today, we slept in, fixed a big southern breakfast and instead of strapping on the bike shoes, I put on some gloves, grabbed the shovel and got to work in the yard.  I am way behind in our plans to bring the front yard back to life, so carving out 6 hours for that today was 'make or break' in terms of getting grass seed down.  And I drank two cans of Pepsi while I did it. 

So now what?  Well, that gets me to another point:  It's time to practice something else - the guitar.  My old band is converging on Athens, GA next weekend for a show.  Not only that, we planned it such that we could play, wrap/pack-up, and get over to the Pro crit at Twilight without missing much of the action.  Why?  Our buddy Mark, who races for TMK/Jittery Joes is going to be there.  He won this race in 2007 and finished second in 2009.  Twilight likes Mark and Mark likes Twilight.  Argus likes Athens and Athens likes Argus.  Why not?

After that, I plan to keep the iron hot by hitting up Mule Hell - Roubaix in southwestern Virginia.  Not a race per say, but I know how these rides go...

After that, it's more training in June before the Piedmont Triad Omnium in July.  This is a signature Piedmont event and I'm happy to be a part of the medical team covering it.  I also plan to ride the road race, which has been kind to me in the past. 

So, we'll see how this change in priorities and eating habits effects my riding.  I think Jill might be just a little sad about losing her Saturday morning quiet time, however...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Second Wind?

Considering this.  Looks fun!

http://www.mulehell.com/

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Battenkill'd and Busted.

What an adventure.  I'll try not to ramble, but the way today unfolded on the course almost requires a stream-of-consciousness approach.  First, the Tour of the Battenkill gets mad props for being a crazy, fun, dangerous, and well-oiled event.  Perfect for a spring classic.  On to the race report:

We arrived in Cambridge on Friday and I warmed up on the course a bit.  The first hard left turn was followed shortly by a covered bridge, seen here.  I'm just practicing the first bit of the course, because early reports indicated that the first climb (a few miles after the bridge) would be decisive, so I wanted to know what to expect.  Fortunately, the gravel that was present on the wood-floored bridge Friday was gone as we rocketed through on Saturday. 

On Saturday, we arrived at the event about an hour and a half before the start.  Plenty of time to kit up, warm up, and make some new friends at the start line.  I have to give a few shout outs here, especially to Jeremy, Dave, and Frank who took time to chat and make the race that much more interesting.  Dave actually recognized me from the blog and spoke kindly of it.  Big ups to Dave!

Sporting the CLM colors, I had a nice lady flag me down prior to the race to say she loved the kits.  Way to go, Mitch!  I went with the striped armwarmers for visibility in the feed zone.

The start was relatively uneventful, as the first km was neutral.  I ended up hovering in the top 30-40 just taking it easy to the covered bridge.  That went smoothly but soon the pace picked up.  However, the group was clearly saving energy for the first big climb:  Juniper Swamp Rd.  Rumor was that the race would split here and a select group of riders getting over this ridge first would stay together until the last climb when more splits would be made.  We still had a few miles to go until that turn, so really everyone was just trying to settle in.

Now, things got interesting for me. Within seconds of hanging a right onto the first dirt section (Rich Rd.), I hit 3 or 4 potholes and lost BOTH of my nearly full bottles.  Crap.  I feared the sweet, lightweight carbon cages would not stand up to the bumps, but that was just insane.  I was now without liquid and no way to get it until the 2nd feed zone at mile 41.  By the way, did I mention this happened in the 7th mile?  I'm not to too good with fancy math, but that seemed like a long time to go without fluid in a race.  Egads. 

Shortly, we took a hard left onto Juniper Swamp Rd., the second dirt section.  You might be able to see me on the right side of the group in the orange and black. 


I didn't know Jill and Sarah would be there to take this picture and cheer, but I definitely heard them shouting!  True to prediction, we lost several riders on the steep dirt climb.  Frank went over in the top 5, and I was in the top 20 and feeling fine.  The subsequent dirt downhill was hairy due to speed but smooth.

After Juniper Swamp, I regrouped and developed a plan to conserve as much as possible (even more that I already was) and doubled up on gels to compensate.  This worked well, and I was still in the pack as we approached a dreaded paved climb around mile 30.  At the bottom, two guys RIGHT in front of me locked handlebars and went down in a flash.  I had nowhere to go, so *DOINK* I ran right into them, performing a nice endo.  I stayed up, but was now holding still and clipped out while the peloton scurried up the hill.  Not good.  Sprinting up the hill, I felt the heat and heard the engine of the chase car, knowing that I needed to stay up and catch the group on the hill or I was permanently off.  I nearly got there by the top, but had to hop on a few wheels of other guys to finish the bridge.  Fortunately, we went off-road about then and I was able to make it back up as the group slowed.

Now in the pack and down 3 or 4 matches, I was still nervous about cramps.  At mile 35, we cruised through the town of Greenwich with a group now down to about 25 or 30.  On a sweeping left hand turn, the guy to my left hit a pothole and launched his bottle into my path.  Was this karma for my two bottles earlier?  I didn't have time to think about that as, try as I might to avoid it, I hit it square with my front tire. 

*aside*  I would love to have seen the spectators faces at this moment.  Cheering as they were, I thought I heard a deep gasp from several onlookers as I pulled what must have looked like a BMX tabletop-fakie-kickstand move before recovering and sprinting to catch the group.  Wow.

Within a mile of that madness, I went to shift for an easier gear and felt a strange sensation through the right-hand shifter.  Kind of a clunk / shred.  My pedaling became strained and I could not shift to an easier gear.  Rats, derailleur cable failure.  I'd noticed some funky shifting over the past week, but it had been perfect after some adjusting earlier today.  Now, I was 5 miles from the feed zone and debating dropping out.  Knowing the profile (big hills to come), I was a dead duck.  Combine that with the fluid deficit I'd accumulated, and I was suspecting a struggle once the fast boys turned it up. 

As I approached the feed zone, I drifted to the back of our group and pulled over.  Jill was bamboozled as I was seemingly looking fine, but I explained the malfunction as I pulled the shredded cable out of the housing.  Race over.  I watched as the group rolled up the road.

But, I cannot complain.  Dodging a wreck, surviving a water bottle collision, and actually making it 41 miles with zero fluid (well, maybe I got a sip at the start) is quite a bit of racing fortune.  Sure, it would be nice to finish, but some things are just not to be, at least not this year...

After the race, we headed to Woodstock for a great dinner with Coach and her sis, Sarah.  These two have supported me quite a bit over this adventure, and it has made the difference.  A parting shot from the pizza joint in Woodstock:
Don't worry, this blog is not dead.  I'll take some time to think of my next steps, and Battenkill 2.0 might be the project.  I've loved the journey, and am so very happy to have participated in the race. 

Stay tuned.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Arrival.

The title has a few meanings.  Obviously, we're here.  By here, I mean in Upstate NY and within a quick drive of the starting line of the 2010 Tour of the Battenkill.  What started as a "what if?" conversation months ago is now feeling very real. 

We rolled into Cambridge, NY around 2pm only to realize that rider sign-in was to start at 3pm.  So, to kill some time, we drove bits of the course.  After about 15 minutes of that, I got too excited and just had to ride some.  It was a good thing, as I'd been off the bike for 3.5 days.  I'd intended to spin around NYC yesterday, but that seemed increasingly suicidal the longer we were there.  I rode sections of Eagleville Rd. and the big hill on Juniper Swamp Rd., and I'm here to say that Juniper Swamp is no joke.  Sure, you can climb it, but I anticipate that the hot dogs will be cranking on that sucker tomorrow, trying to split the group.  Even on my older 23c tires, I could climb out of the saddle without problem.  That is probably because the dirt is wet after yesterday's rain. 

By the way, I just got a text from Jill - she ran to the train station in Saratoga Springs to pick up her sister -it's snowing outside.  Unreal.   I can't help but think of Jill's half-marathon in Orlando a few months ago.  On the morning of her race, the winds picked up and the temps dropped.  Snow, sleet, and freezing rain fell on her and Shelly as they completed the daunting 13.1 miles.  Is it possible that she (or I, or we) take snow to the events we attend?  Scary to think about.

It's supposed to fair off, however, and temps will likely be up into the mid-50's by the time I toe the line at 1:30.  Perfect.  Just me and 100+ of my closest Cat 4 friends.  The goals remain the same:  stay upright, finish, and in the top 30%.  I won't be too shattered if I don't get that last one, because this race is sure to be full of all kinds of craziness that I can't control.  Despite that little interlude of futility just now, I plan to leave it all out there.  The CLM would do nothing less.  

The new tires are mounted, the shifting is crisp, the cheat sheet (athletic tape with critical course marks stuck to the top tube) is in place, and the nutrition is in process. 


Now, it's time to chill out, watch TV and think about the good things in life:  my family, my friends, and the fortune that is mine - that I can take time and energy and put it towards a goal like this.  I'm a lucky guy.

Until tomorrow, my friends.  Watch Jill's facebook for status updates as she'll be dashing around the course in full-on support mode.  Like I said, I'm a lucky guy.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ritual and The Road


Prior to leaving on our trip to the northeast, I completed my usual pre-race ritual.  This primarily includes going over the bike, from tip to tail.  The point is to minimize the chance for 'controllable' issues.  Once I'm on-course at  Battenkill, there will be many things I cannot control, but bike maintenance is not one of those things.  I added a new chain as well, which has already improved my shifting.  I plan to properly break it in tomorrow on the streets of NYC.

The hard training rides are done, the statistics have been crunched, and now the consternation begins.  I'll spend tomorrow relaxing in the city with Sarah and Jill, but my mind will want to wander to the race start, the first hills, and the mad dash through the covered bridge. 

I've got my new set of Conti Gatorskin Hardshell tires, and am excited to give them a try.  I went with size 25 for extra grip on the steep ascents and for a little extra cush on the gravel descents.   See, my heartrate is already going up...

After a two-day (and very scenic) trip from W-S through the Shenandoah valley and now to NYC, Coach and I are staying with her sister about two blocks from Grand Central.  The view is killer, and the city is alive.  More later, with pics from the city and our upcoming trip to Saratoga Springs and Cambridge, NY on Friday. 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Country to Colony

Quick post, more later:  Saddled up with the fatha'-in-law today and rode from Courtland, VA to Williamsburg, VA.  Beautiful weather, great company, and around 58 miles of fun.  Oh, and sunburn...
hello, aloe.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Goin' for the 'Kill - Day #95.

Hard to believe we're finally in the home stretch!

The Tour of the Battenkill is next Saturday, and I can hardly wait. Erich's training has gone really well to this point. I think it's safe to say that it's been a pretty fun process for both of us, though I won't exactly miss the one or two (or 37) lonely dinners! But his form is the strongest it's been in a long time (maybe ever), and I think his personal goals for this race are well within reach. I'm really looking forward to watching it all unfold, bringing this whole adventure full-circle.

E has officially begun his taper down to Race Day, which is mostly about maintenance, rest, and fun. Tomorrow he plans a ride from my parents' house to Williamsburg, Virginia = a 55-mile effort at a moderate pace. The intensity of his upcoming weekend rides will pale in comparison to the last 3 months, but he'll still have plenty of saddle time for good measure.

And I'm in hopes the CLM will send him off in style on the Monday Night Ride before we take off for New York on Tuesday. The forecast for New York City and upstate New York calls for rain for three straight days - right up until the cool, cloudy sunshine projected for Race Day! Perfect racing weather...fingers crossed that the forecast holds.

So if you've hung with us this far, stay tuned! No matter the outcome, the adventure is right around the corner...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mindless and loving it.

I was still feeling a bit stiff (ok, a LOT stiff and quite sore) from yesteday's ride when I checked the weather forecast this morning.  Hmmm....rain, but probably not starting 'til after lunch.  I had some coffee, started a few chores, then texted the CLM looking for folks willing to forego a little Sunday morning relaxation in exchange for City Loop recovery ride.  Brad got back to me, so we agreed to head out around 10:30.

The remarkable thing about today's ride was the very low mental cost.  Some rides, especially the difficult ones and almost all races, require quite a bit of mental energy.  Perhaps better words might be 'mental stamina' and 'focus.'  When you are searching your body for the last micrograms of energy just to get over a hill, mental fatigue can sneak in.  "I don't want to do this anymore..." Even if the body could go for a few more miles, the mind is done.

A few years ago, I signed up (and sort-of trained) for the 3 Mountain Madness -basically a supported Triple Hump ride but with some miles cut out as is starts closer to the hills themselves.  I rode it with a friend, a Type I diabetic, who was really in fantastic shape.  The best part about riding with him was his need to stop on occasion to check his sugar and eat properly.  This gave me the opportunity to stop and rest often, which I needed.

The last climb on that route is Pilot Mtn.  Standing 1500 ft above the surrounding countryside, it is a monadock - a solid remnant of a once mighty mountain range. 
The route to the top is just under 3 miles, twisty, and with plenty of switchbacks and kickers.  It would be a GREAT place for an uphill time trial...or even the mountain top finish of a road stage. Rich and I hit the bottom together, but I started cramping immediately.  I had about 65 miles in my legs and nearly 7000ft of climbing in already.  But, here comes the mental part:  Jill and her family drove up from W-S that morning to watch the final climb.  I knew they were on the mountain somewhere, but not exactly where.  With cars and cyclists all over the place, it was madness.

If it had been a different day, without Jill's family, without the expectation of that climb and finishing that ride, I'm not sure I would've made it.  I was delirious and with every rotation of my legs, I jerked and wiggled due to the muscle spasms.  I was truly afraid that my legs woud seize, leaving me stationary and flailing, just before falling straight over.

Well, that didn't happen.  I made it up, and even back to the finish.  But just like yesterday (which was easily harder than 3MM as we completed it in half the time I took in 2007 and really only stopped once), the mind is a major part of the equation when things get hard.  Call it discipline, call it character, call it whatever you want, but there is some flexible zone of achievement can span the distance between the body's limits and the mind's goal.  Not always is this bridge long enough, or sturdy enough, but it exists and can be called upon when it really matters.  It's a life lesson as well, one that I am learning.  I have to thank cycling for some of that.

So why the 'mindless' reference in the title today?  Brad and I just spun, yapped, and talked about life.  No stress, no cramping, no threshold, no heart rate monitor in sight.  The weather was overcast, and the air thick with humidity despite the low temperatures.   The ride is now over and I feel refreshed, not exhausted. 

Good thing, because Coach is coming back from Charleston today and I need to get this place cleaned up!