America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

America's #1 Balance Bike Destination
America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

Friday, December 15, 2006

A New Beginning

My stick-to-it-ive-ness has dissipated completely and I find myself with no reasons left to name this blog anything other than what I want to name it, so I've selected the Turkish word for "bicyclist".
Being the sole contributor requires me to take complete ownership and make this change.
You can't push a wet noodle uphill..
So to my handful of regular visitors, I express my sincere and eternal gratitude.. Many thanks.
I hope you will continue to check in at 'Bisikletci' from time to time. The address remains unchanged.
PS: the 'c' is pronounced 'ch'.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Albert Ranieri: Racing with the Devil

Cross-posted at American Turk..
As promised, here is a story dating back to summer of 1986. Our family relocated to Rochester, NY for reasons I might explain later.. I was 15 years old, and showing more interest than ever in bicycling. Trouble is, I was a young kid in a new city with few friends and no connections in the cycling scene. Late one Thursday afternoon, I was riding my stolen TREK touring bike (which was really a touring bike, and a few sizes too small for me), from Penfield into Brighton on route 441, where it meets East Avenue. As I approached the corner, four super-fit elite bike racers, all wearing the same team kit (GELATO FRESCO!), whizzed through the intersection in front of me. I remember how they appeared to be connected at the hip, riding two abreast in perfect unison. Like an image out of a cycling magazine... I was awestruck by the sight of them. I wanted to BE one of them. I decided then and there that this would be so, inevitably. When I snapped out of this trance, I immediately turned the corner in pursuit of the four Gelatos. With my tongue hanging out, lungs burning and legs scorched from the lactic acid, I managed to catch up to them within a couple of miles... and to meet Steve Paulini, Scott Hollenbeck, Kieran Dunne and Albert Ranieri.
"Hi! Can I ride with you guys? Where are you headed?" I blurted with a mouthful of phlegm..
These monotone words, delivered to me with an arrogance which I believed to be completely justified, changed me forever: "Training race.. every Thursday... this week it's in Victor.. follow us there."
That I did, and for the first time in my short life, I had the chance to join a club and race regularly with a great group of people, known as the Genesee Valley Cycling Club (GVCC). Needless to say, I was blown out the back of these training races about 6 or 8 weeks in a row, completely demoralized and spent, before I gained enough form to eventually finish with the main field, and later, to become a contender for the win. I did the 'A' races from day one, punishing myself mercilessly to become a better bicyclist. A couple of years later, I was an officer of the GVCC, and in the following year, at the tender age of 18, I was elected as it's president (by default because no one else wanted it).. It was during that same year that I found myself racing at an elite level, on the same racing team with two of the four original Gelatos, Scott and Kieran, who I met by chance and followed to my first race only 3 years earlier.. I have a team photo which I'll post one day..
I raced a few times with Steve Paulini, but didn't have much exposure to Albert, the undisputed leader of the old Gelato team. He was known to be a fierce competitor, with a distinguished list of results earned competing in regional and national events.. A google search did not yield any results from 20 years ago, but I believe that Albert was a podium finisher in a junior national road race during the early to mid 1980s.. Having only heard of his legendary ability, it was a treat for me to race with him for the first time in 1990, at the UB Classic Criterium (a real bloodbath of an event, known for being dangerous and filled with crashes) I loved this race, having placed well there the previous two years (4th in 1988, 3rd in 1989) The year 1990 was different though- I was on an elite amateur team, as a category two contender, and this was not an 18 and under event like the previous years. This was the big boy's race.
Our team had not less than five or six of us at the start line, and so was Albert. I made it my mission to mark him closely and not let anything develop into a breakaway. It ws fortunate that I kept a little bit of distance between us, I would later realize.. Early in the 25 lap event, which wound it's way around the bumpy, sinuous roads of the University of Buffalo campus, a prime lap was announced, the bell was rung announcing a prize fore the first to cross the finish line of the following lap. Finding myself in a favorable position in the final corner, I had thoughts of surprising everyone with a sprint to the line to claim the prize.. But he who hesitates, is lost.. because Albert was aleady out of the saddle, opening a gap on all of us about 150 meters from the finish. The rest of us gave chase, but the result was sealed.. until Albert, the perennial favorite at this event for years, hit the deck at full speed, just 20 meters from the line, and skidded in a mangled heap to the curb.. The race was neutralized until his bloody and broken body could be cleared from the course..In the end, I take credit for sprinting to a 7th place finish at the 1990 UB Classic, better than any of my more seasoned, more experienced team mates. And several years later, during a time when I had hung my bike up so that I could get my life and career in order, I was stunned when I read the first developments of this news
..And to borrow Paul Harvey's famous line, now you know the rest of the story..
Thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

LikeABike KOKUA Jumper: I'm in love

Saw this thing at the Caster's Grand Prix of Cyclocross today, where we went as a family to see the course and watch middle aged guys in tights hump their bikes through sand pits, carry them over wooden barriers and crash them in off-camber corners.. We were headed back to the car when we spy a toddler, much younger than Reis, straddling an eight pound dream machine of a training bicycle- look! no pedals to bugger up balancing skills. Some friends of ours recently bought Reis a kid's bike, bless their hearts- they meant well.. but it weighs 25-30 pounds and doesn't track a straight line. LOOK at this thing though- the KOKUA is made in Germany with the same precision and quality as an entry level race bike. I drooled at the sight of it while I had flash-backs to the time when I learned to ride a two wheeler... in Kew Gardens, Queens. Our apartment building had a sweeping downhill driveway which led under the building and into the parking lot out back... Without bothering to pedal, I learned to balance myself by coasting down this driveway repeatedly, around the age of 4, unsupervised, no helmet. Reis is one lucky kid, and I'm happily $245 poorer..

15th Asian Games Doha 2006

Cross posted at American Turk..
Focusing my visit to the official site on cycling, I give you the following:
Happy to see that Iraq was able to send athletes to the road race, but why were Farkad Mohammad and Reauf Mihsien disqualified? Hey at least they won't be tortured or killed..
Award for the most unique name goes to a Phillipino named "Bitbit"
And I thought I was too old to get good results.. Is Mongolian Jamsran Ulzii Orshikh the next Andre Tchmil? (Check his birth date and salute his 4th place in the road race)
Noor Azian Alias of Malaysia is simply the cutest of them all.
While Syria's Kenaz Hamchou looks like she was plucked from a remote village.
Try to tell me that Ali Dilsher of Pakistan doesn't remind you of Borat.
Here's the page where you can find all of the results of the cycling events.
I wish I could have been there to see them compete.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Stedman and Casters Cross Dec 9-10

I'm on the fence about this weekend, and I'm favoring Sunday's event over Saturday's. But I think I will know in the AM whether I want to do the S.K. race. Fields for both seem close to being full (What's the limit? 100?) Being that I had my ass handed to me at the Canton Cup, it didn't come without learning a few lessons.. Such as.. DON'T BE A PUSSY IF YOU WANT TO RACE CROSS. Regrettably, I've already packed on some pounds and stand to have a miserable time, but then again, the guys being lapped aren't suffering any more than the guys doing the lapping, right? Everyone's at their limit, and everyone's every weakness is suddenly revealed completely.. Sunday's weather will be a touch warmer too. We'll see how I feel in the AM. If I leap out of bed like a gazelle, you might see me both tomorrow and Sunday.. Good luck to all.
PS: Tonight I just changed my rear derailleur, replaced the bent hanger and added brand new bar tape. The RD was ripped off the bike last weekend by what appeared to be a twig, stranding me in the middle of the woods at Big River. Rear wheel is a bit wobbly too, but I think it will carry me..

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Dryer Road Trail Park in Rochester (Victor) NY

It's been a long four day weekend, one which included a trip to Niagara Falls on Saturday, and I'm terribly tired, especially after that seven hour drive. I am so glad I took my off-road bike with us and I'm so glad and grateful that my brother Ali introduced me to the best mountain biking venue I've ever ridden. If you're ever in town, be sure to bring you're mountain bike, and spend a few hours at Dyer Road Trails Park. Heck I'd pay to get in and use the facilities if I had to. Yes I had that much fun, in spite of a few nasty crashes. To wit:
Click to enlarge. It's like a si resort for bikes! I rode on most every trail at least 3 times each, and I was also the only one in the park using a cyclocross bike. Most everyone else had full front and rear suspension, and disc brakes, the weenies.

Buy Raffle Tickets for a signed Aaron Olsen jersey

Only 250 tickets available, $4.95 each, winner drawn on December 18th, to win an autographed Aaron Olsen jersey plus some other schwag, and proceeds benefit a good cause...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Working for the weekends!

Not sure about most of you out there, but I am limited to riding only on weekends ever since DST... My road bike is covered in dust these days, but the cross bike is loads of fun on the very technical paths in the Big RiverWatershed, where three of us became a little disoreiented last Saturday- going in circles trying to find our way out of the forest. If the weather is nice, I plan to do it again Sat and/or Sun. Want to try it? Meet us at 9:00 am on Route 3, just south of I-95. We roll off at 9:30. We do not ride at race pace, this is a fun ride and we always re-group every few minutes. You will need an orange vest! Write me with questions: reiscotools at yahoo dot com.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Canton Cup: Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire

My ankle protested from this summer's sprain, my lower back was in knots, my lungs tightened from the cold air, my windpipe was clogged with thick phlegm, and my mouth was completely dry... So I consider it a miracle that I completed 3 full laps of my very first cyclocross race today in the Masters event. A fourth lap just wasn't in me.. I wanted to be fit enough to drive home afterwards! I must salute all of those who tore up the course today... that felt harder than any road race I've ever done. yet strangely... I want to do it again! No, that's just regret talking. DNF's will do that to you.. make an empty glass seem full... My least favorite part of the course? The soft mushy grass fields where the wind pushed me around like a plastic bag... The barriers and run-up were fun. I dismounted reasonably well, for one who practiced it for only the first time ever, this morning. What got me was the sedentary lifestyle I've adopted since Jamestown... and that cold air- my lungs don't like it one bit. After quitting, I hacked and coughed up- I swear to you- not less than 3 or 4 ounces of the thickest phlegm I've ever seen. No wonder I couldn't get enough air! Some water might have helped... Am I the only fool who got thirsty? Does anyone carry a small amount of H2O in their back pocket??
Overall, I'm pleased with myself, believe it or not. Going up there took some courage and resolve. True, I cursed the day that I bought a cross bike, with every pedal stroke and every clumsy leap over the barriers... But in the end, I couldn't stop thinking about the next event, whatever it may be... I must have been dropped on my head as a child...
Great to finally meet Solobreak and see GeWilli today... BTW, do I get any points for not crashing in my first cross race? At some point, Solobreak went past me, and I was happy for it... that kind of suffering should only take place in private, and I wanted to be invisible.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Murat Likes It Off-Road

Biiiig lapse in my contributions here this past week. Many thanks to those who still check in on me to see if there's any action at Union Velo Blog.. Been busy as ever at work lately. I have about $2 million worth of high school science laboratories to get delivered, installed and operational in the next 60 days... That's a LOT of cabinets, epoxy resin tops, faucets, valves, fume hoods, acid storage units, apparatus rods, and other millwork to coordinate!
In other news, I was an invited guest on the Open Source Radio program on NPR, hosted by Christopher Lydon... The program was last Thursday, the web page and recording of the program can be found here. It was called "Talking Turkishness".
Last Sunday I met up with some co-workers at the Big River Watershed in Coventry.. I was the only one with a cross bike and no suspension, but I was ripping up the trails and jumping logs like it was second nature.. That was probably the most fun I've had on a bike in a looooong time. Hoping to do it again this Saturday morning with another aspiring roadie, my newbie friend Kaan Duru.
Today I had to go up to Salem MA for a jobsite visit and on the way I stopped at Union Cycle and picked up a pair of mountain shoes (Diadora Habanero, reasonably priced and ample for my first year of off-roading) AND a pair of Crank Brothers stainless steel pedals (I am boycotting French products, so the Time pedals were out of the question) (My road bike is a Look 486, I know..) Hopefully the $200+ I dropped won't bring me any buyer's remorse.
This Sunday there's a cross race in Canton (?) I am planning on trying this out, just for shits and giggles, to see where I stand in the cyclocross food-chain (I'm guessing plankton or paramecium) The cool thing is that my dad is flying in from Turkey tomorrow for a three week visit, and he used to race back inthe 60s, but has no idea what 'cross is all about. I hope to bring him with me and give him a good laugh on Sunday. So anyone out there with some pointers about Sunday's race, please enlighten me and I will be eternally grateful. Should I pre-reg? (only 41 registed in the masters so far- getting a good start position is moot for me- I just want to race and get a few laps in- better I don't endanger others by getting in their way this first time)
Besides that, I'm not riding except for the weekends, so my fitness is going to start seriously slipping away soon! Need to watch my diet, because after a summer of caloric deficiency, I most certainly have a surplus lately..

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Back in the Saddle

I took Monday and Tuesday off the bike, but today my skin was crawling at work with the weather so nice outside. Not only did I skip out of work a little early today and go for a 1 hour ride, I also swapped bikes and hit the trails for another 1/2 hour. The fog is beginning to clear I think. Been a little down since Jamestown, where my heart just wasn't into the suffering. Next year will be different. Sorry I don't have more to share.. Still looking to choose and register for my first cross race. Suggestions for a venue would be appreciated, for something preferably before Nov 17th, because my father will be visiting with us from Turkey until that time. Want him to witness the madness.

Monday, October 09, 2006

As The Wheel Turns: Jamestown Meltdown

The depression I've been feeling for the past week got the best of me today. In a race where I had a shot at a respectable finish, I had some kind of mental melt-down after one lap and was kind of like "put a fork in me, I'm done"... As I explained to a team mate via e-mail earlier today:
Coming through the start/finish for the first time, a circuit in my head (or heart?) tripped and I told myself I didn't want to repeat that for another two laps. A touch of burn-out? When it doesn't seem fun anymore, why force it? I no doubt could have finished, and would have if wife and child weren't there... but being with them just seemed a much more attractive past-time than tasting puke for 90 more minutes...
Nice rationalization, eh?? So for the final road race of the year, Murat gets the "Quit race because he's a pussy" award. Damn and blast it. I wanted to get some recognition for finishing too. I'm still breathing fire because the Topsfield promoters STILL have not posted results to USA Cycling. Yeah, I only got 23rd place, but being a Pro-1-2 event, I wanted to see my "name in lights". Pathetically, it's one of those silly things which drives me to be better: some effing recognition.
More than quitting today's race, the end of the season bums me out more than anything. Not a cross-junkie (yet) but perhaps a venture into cyclocross land will lift my spirits. I have a bike, all I need are decent shoes, pedals [and a frontal lobotomy, from what I've been reading lately]. Some one please take pity on me and recommend shoes for this pathetic weenie. The Crank Brothers pedals seem the way to go...
I wish we could tack on another two months of today's weather, re-start Wells Ave, even resurrect the old Wednesday night Lincoln Crit (I loved that race)
Planning on doing a February training camp somewhere far far away. Maybe in Turkey with their national team (if only I can somehow dodge the warrant issued for my arrest over there) Damn and blast it again. Maybe I'll go to Iran or Egypt (Yeah Europe would be sweet, but I want WARMTH, in a place that isn't cost-prohibitive). Believe it or not, Iran and Egypt and Turkey have some very fast elite riders. They're just too cash poor to race in Western Europe...
Whatever, I'm done for 2006. No more riding the bike to work... I really need to focus on my projects better than I have been- riding to work and back has made it impossible to do the 60 hour weeks that this requires... I'll have to really put my head down and play catch up for a few weeks, and use it for a distraction from the onset of fall/winter, which depresses me to no end.
Total mileage for 2006: 3994
Total hours in the saddle: 211
In comparison, I rode only 3028 miles in 189 hours during 2005.
Click the title above to see today's horror show of a Polar chart. (G-d damned blogger won't let me upload pictures on this blog)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Jamestown Classic tomorrow... then what !?!?

Tomorrow marks the last hurrah for the road season. The Jamestown Classic will take start in the morning and I will be among the Cat 1-2-3 pack fodder, but who knows, maybe I'll have a really good day and finish top ten. It's been a light week for me.. Didn't ride Tues, Wed, Thurs, or Friday. Yesterday I rode about 37 miles in two hours, feeling regretful for taking so much rest, per usual... Is it just me? or does rest hurt everyone's speed? Noticed my heart rate a little high and a general feeling of weakness the first hour...and legs felt extremely tight... opened up though in the 2nd hour. Today I just took a light and breezy spin with a couple of un-licensed friends.. 24 miles in 1:24. It was good to look down and see my heart rate hover around 100 +/- 5 bpm.. I guess I'm as ready as I'll ever be for tomorrow's event. In the words of one team mate, "the race isn't decided on the hills, except maybe the last climb before the finish... Otherwise, the wind is a big factor."
We'll see. If the descriptions I've heard of the course profile are true, it will suit me well. Hope to tell you all about it tomorrow night.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

As The Wheel Turns: Flickr Update etc

I've just uploaded a bunch of photos from the Cycle for Life Pro-1-2-3 Crit. See the Flickr badge on the right. These were taken by my dear wife, before I flatted before I took the camera from her to shoot some video... Looks like I'm listed as a "pack" finisher on Bikereg Results, even though I had to quit with 13 to go. I'll take it.. better than being shown as a DNF.. Besides, I was primed for a top ten finish if the damn tire would have held air...
I felt like a wad of camel spit at work today.. The Seasonal Blues are upon me... I skipped riding on Sunday due to the weather.. Today I was trapped in a four hour production meeting in which I am a contributor for all of four minutes.. yet I am compelled to sit there and get jabbed by our President each time I doze off... Screw that. If it's inappropriate to be excused, then I'm just getting up and saying I have to go home early. At least then I can get a decent ride in before dark, instead of sitting there in that effing circle jerk. This is what I did...
Feeling depressed about Saturday's misfortune and about no-riding on Sunday, I resolved to go out and punish myself with a timed ride on my designated "hilly fitness test route". It's 26.2 miles, about 1300 feet of climbing, and it's hard enough to grow hair on your chest, at least when you drill it at LT the whole way... I didn't exactly shatter my previous personal best from back on July 3rd, but I did shave 30 seconds off and that counts for something, especially considering that I had to force myself out on the bike (I REALLY didn't feel like riding, but clenched my teeth but used the potential self-hate of being a pussy as a motivator to go)
I don't know how to show you a Polar chart (not without printing and scanning) so I'll give you a very old chart of the same exact route, so you can see the profile. (scratch that- effing Blogger is not letting me upload pictures) It goes like this: Fairview Ave to route 115 to route 116 to Route 12 to Old Plainfield Road to route 102 to Maple Valley Road to Route 117 to Fairview Ave to Maple Ave where I live. Counter-clock-wise. The hills are on Route 12 and Old Plainfield (where it peaks) It's harder than it looks- the two larger hills are 1+ mile long.
Scoping the weather report for Jamestown on Monday.. I hear that the course has some hillyness to it... Hopefully it's easy like Bob Beal or Topsfield. I do well on hills that I can power over in the 53x19, my favorite gear.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Cycle For Life Criterium: DNF

Pro-1-2-3 event... Feeling good... Keeping out of trouble... Not in too much difficulty... Strong and ambitious field... 13 laps to go I get a rear flat. Not the slow leak kind, the kind that blows out and scares the crap out of you. Having no wheels in the pit, my game was over. Afterwards, I took some great photos of the remaining laps, plus a lot of video. Will try to post some stuff later. Also took pics of the 4/5 race, so check back tomorrow for a new Flickr badge etc. I believe our man Rick Kotch finished in the top ten. Three riders were off the front, another two chasers, and the field sprint was for 6th. The results list will speak for itself... this was a fast crit. Great weather!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Festivus for the rest of us

This change of seasons is really getting me down. I am strongly affected by the plunging temperatures which mark the end of summer and of the road race season. It's little wonder that I'm holding on by registering for Saturday's crit. Also plan to do Jamestown, but NOT in the rain... Took today as a rest day, but after work couldn't resist the sunny weather and I took a 30 minute spin on the cross bike. Rode over the River Point Park and did four laps on my private loop... Thinking this path I found is more like a mtb course than a cross course.. Lots of gravel patches and deep fissures to navigate over. No grass (unless I cut over the playing fields) Surprisingly, powering over such terrain with off-road tires on a 20 pound bike takes a lot out of you! Today I subconsciously decided that I most likely will not be driving far and wide and paying entry fees just to be pack fodder in cross races. That might take the fun out of it. Lest I forget, these are the real reasons why I bought the FUJI Cross Pro:
  • A friend needed some quick cash and I wanted to help him out by buying his bike
  • Was looking for a bike anyway, to use for the winter, something which would survive road salt and sand and my general neglectfulness (other than my new Look 486)
  • Wanted a bike which I wouldn't mind hooking our son's trailer to (wouldn't do it to my carbon bike)
  • Loved the eyelets on the Fuji, making it possible to add fenders or a rack in back (always admired Phil Anderson's granny training bike I saw in the film "21 Days in July")
  • Thought it would be fun to spend the winter bombing through the woods on the dirt (and snow?), sheltered from the wind and the traffic

Needless to say, it also occurred to me that I can try a few cross races in the course of the winter, but who am I kidding? My right ankle is still all messed up and I can't run to save my life, forget doing it off-road with a bike to carry. Finding myself out of breath after two minutes in the woods scared me.. Seems to me that cross racing is nothing more than an off-road mass start time trial, on a bike which feels like it has two flats.. and I hate time trials... and running.. and flats. I resolve to make it a FUN winter in which I preserve my good form and hit the roads again in March with guns blazing. I believe that this can be achieved without demoralizing myself doing a sport which favors those who don't hate the winter cold. Heck I use arm warmers when it's under 60 degrees, hat and leg warmers when it's under 50... This sprained ankle I suffered in June is also going to make it impossible for me to play indoor soccer this winter.. Damn and blast it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cycle for Life Criterium Saturday

Jay Busse and I are pre-registered for the Cycle For Life Criterium at Ninigret Park. Looking forward to this event, and I especially like the start time of 3:15 pm. I must say I am annoyed that the Topsfield RR results are still not posted to USA Cycling. An e-mail to the promoter has gone unanswered. Not that I did that well (23rd in the P-1-2-3), but it was the first road race I did in a loooong time..
Killed a squirrel today on the bike path. Didn't want to look behind me, but had to see. Yup it was destroyed, in the throes of death all gryrating with convulsions. I hate when that happens. I usually "SSHHHH" them away, but this one came out of nowhere. I didn't stop. No need to stoke my guilt- I am given enough of that in my life, thanks.
This morning was cold! 44 degrees. I see that GeWilli braved the chill with nothing but arm warmers.. Me, I had a long sleeve base layer, arm warmers, leg warmers, toe covers, skull cap, and one glove... I salute myself for not wussing out and driving to work today. Tomorrow morning will be a bit warmer. Will probably go bombing around on the new cross bike on that great trail in River Point Park. (This is a satellite image- the trail runs all the way around the sports fields) Driving to a jobsite straight from home, so no commute is necessary.
I have five easy rides so far this week totaling almost 90 miles in three days. (for me, easy means riding tempo in the 53x19 with an average HR under 140) Saturday will no doubt be hard at Ninigret and I want to be fresh for those accelerations into the gale force winds which usually prevail.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Scenes from the Daily Commute

A random brain purge for your amusement... I'm at a red light this morning, my foot down and I'm centered behind the car in front.. Bike lurches forward because the girl behind me was either not quite awake or has a sick way of flirting with strangers in lycra. Scared the snot out of me. "Are you out of your mind!!!!" She says she's sorry about 100 times while I glare back at her. Grrrrr. Yeah she was definitely "easy on the eyes" but that didn't make me any less agitated.
Saw that same middle aged lady again on the path- the one who is perpetually mashing a 52x13 even though she doesn't break 15 miles an hour... I've told her she's hurting herself, if not now, years later she's gonna feel it.. Passing her the other day I spied her doing 30 rpms again and with outstretched finger I said "You're doing it again!" She must think I'm some nut job for even caring.
Passing a mom and her two kids... mom has no helmet. teenage daughter has her helmet dangling precariously from the handlebars. Had to slow down for this- the girl was beautiful and smart looking.. "Please wear your helmet as I do.." She blushes and promises to put it on at the next stop. Her younger sister is up the road a piece. Also no helmet... "Are you a racer?!" I slow down again "Yes of course I am!" She says: "When I grow up I want to be one too". My heart melts.
The infamous tunnel at New London Ave- the one where I crashed three years ago because someone planted a 6x6 piece of PT lumber in the middle.. The lights now WORK after I wrote the city of Cranston and the state of RI.. They even sent me a letter informing me that they were finally fixed. Trouble is, the lights only work when it's dark out. When I crashed it was daylight- the center of the tunnel is pitch black, even during the day... Time to lobby again so that they lose the timer and keep the lights on 24/7.
Bugs everywhere! They've been swarming lately, especially in the afternoon. It feels NASTY when you're suddenly pummeled by seemingly hundreds of tiny critters, and you have to brush them out of your arm hair where dozens are trapped. Gross.
Gave a recorded account of my collision with a car, at my attorney's office today. The insurance company is still investigating liability, even though I was basically t-boned in a situation where I clearly had right-of-way. "Yes, the driver apologized to me repeatedly while I layed bleeding in the gutter." If that isn't admission of guilt, I don't know what is..
My headset seems loose again, after I've tightened it up twice. The only evidence is that the fork tends to vibrate when I grab the front brake... Hopefully this isn't an issue which is prevalent for the Look 486 bikes.
Ride defensively!

David Schachte's Planet Dirt Report

This past Sunday the gang headed out to nearby Winding Trails for the second to last race of the year.
This is the same venue as the Chainbiter for Cross. A fast 5 mi lap brought out some sand bagging roadies to mix it up. Never the less we gave it hell.
Ben C was smoking the course and had a commanding lead until those damn mechanical problems came back. He still pulled out a great 2nd place spot.
Scott had his hands full with his field to manage a 7th place and still get those precious points that we are all in need of.
Of course in the single speed group it was the same story 1st place to RAY MARTIN! Nice job.
The Expert single speed saw our newest man Roger net a 2nd place and schachte still trying to grab any points he can manages an 8th place spot.
One race left men, then it is off the Ray Martins place to raise some real hell.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Paul Martin: One Man's Leg

This will be cross-posted at the American Turk
Craving some humble pie?? Then meet someone who suffers only when he's not riding, training or racing on his bike. Little did I know that our racing team included a person with a carbon fiber leg. The first time I saw Paul was at Wells Ave this past spring, making the A racers all look like B's, considering everyone else's obvious advantage. (This is probably exactly how Paul doesn't want to be described, but he'll forgive me I hope) We met again at the Attleboro Crit, where he competed in the 35+ event... Without even knowing much about you Paul, saluting you for what you do comes very easily. Enough said. Here's Paul's recent report from the Disabled Cycling World Championships:

The Disabled Cycling World Championships wrapped up in Switzerland last week, sending several of humbled riders home with a renewed motivation for training. This is often the response when performances fail to meet expectations and personal standards. Other than the women's tandem team that has been dominating for several years, the US squad did not claim the medal count we've become somewhat accustomed to in the past. My performances were among those left off the podium. The racing got underway September 11, on the track. The guys in my category got things rolling with the four-kilometer pursuit. The top four finishers moved on to the finals later that day. I was fifth. I've been in the finals, the bronze medal round, each of my last three international events, so as you might surmise, I wasn't too happy about that. I did, however, ride about as fast as I'd expected: a 5:14 and change. Fourth place, a Chinese rider, rode a 5:13. That particular Chinese rider has no hands, nor did his teammate. You might think a guy with two legs and no hands my have the upper on us apparatus-wearing leg amputees. Not so much the case - guys like me still win the races. Unfortunately for me I told the Chinaman I'd wipe his backside for him if he beat me... The racewas won by Spaniard Roberto Alcaide. As I may have mentioned in the past, he's built for this business. At age 20 he lost his foot descending a hill on race day, crashing into a guardrail that claimed a pod. He was racing for the Spanish development team; his father was an Olympic cyclist. He broke his own world-record posting a 4:43. Next was Jiri Jezek, the great Czech rider, then anew guy from Belgium, Jan Boyen. The next day's event, the kilo - a 1000 meter time trial - gave me what it always gives me: a 1:14 something. 1:14.689 to be specific. I rode a half second slower than my best, again, about what I'dexpected. But several of the other vets have gotten faster and the new guy from Britain, Jody Cundy, set a new world record of 1:10:57. I finished up 6th - my worst kilo place to date. Next up was the road time trial, the event in which I've held World Champion status for the last four years. I told myself I felt good, and I almost meant it. But once I left the ramp and started downthe 24k course, the go-sticks provided not the power necessary to repeat and I felt like a Chevy in Mexico: NoVa. I finished 11th, six minutes (10%) off the day's best racer. I was down and out in the Swiss Alps. And humbled. The need to train to win was crystal clear - at this level no one wins without paying their dues. The final competition, the road race, did provide some redemption. It was a not-soon-to-be-forgotten rain soaked day where the wheel in front of you provided both shelter and a hosing of rooster tail road water. A rainy road race typically calls for at least one crash. In this case it was the guys we warned rookie teammate Sam Kavanaugh to look out for: the two Chinese guys with not a single hand between the two of them took each other out! (Sam lost his leg 18 months ago in a Montana avalanche, spending 48 hours in the mountains with a compound fractured tib-fib. Amazingguy.) I rode well and did some honest work in an effort to put my good friend Ron Williams in position to medal. We were confident as a team, being the only country fielding three riders, and we expected some good work out of Sam who had done well in the TT and on the track. Unfortunately, he was out after a couple laps due to a lost contact lens by way of the rooster tail. On the fourth of six laps of a seven-mile course, with ten of 25 starters left in the peloton, I flew off the front and took a couple guys with me. Unfortunately, Ron got worked shortly thereafter bythe #1 and #2 riders in the world, the Czech and the Spaniard, and was left for dead. I had just completed a big pull and was presently falling back, seeking assistance from those formerly on my wheel, the Belgian and Romanian, Eduard Novak. As the request for cohesion left my lips, I saw them glance over my shoulder and get off their saddles. In that moment Jiri and Roberto and a coupleothers then zipped past me as Jan and Eduard got on those fast wheels and held on. I did my damndest, but got dropped; I then held up a tad to hook up with a couple other stragglers, neither of which was a teammate of mine. The three of us then made solid attempt to get back up to the leaders without luck. We then rolled the final lap at a decent pace, picked up another guy previously dropped by faster riders and headed to the finish line. I took second in that pack sprint for a respectable, soakingwet, eight place finish. I strolled home that day not feeling like the loser I felt like after the time trial. I felt like I wanted to be in the shape I was four years ago. Heck, the shape I was in a year ago. To get there the answer is obvious: I’ll not-so-humbly return to training. I’m thinking, on top of caring for Jack many hours per week, I’ll run Boston. I’m thinking Ironman Austria. I’m thinking I’llkeep up the bike racing, too. I’ll be busy, so busy that this weekend we excavated large holes to start building the two-car garage, finished space above it and the extension off the back of the house for a nice big living room. I’ll be hiring help. And I’ll be back.

-Paul(Jack's Dad)

Good things will happen.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

"We'll save" the best for last

Get it? Called the BRC hotline at 7:15 am and was overjoyed at the news of Wells being ON today. Woke the wife and kid, we're going to WELLSSSS. Promptly showered, shaved and packed the car in no time flat. We were on our way by 9:00, arrived at about 9:50. Fields were combined, giving me about 25 minutes to register, apply my number, pump up the tires etc. Did three warm-up laps on the course and lined up with a rather large field... Team mates Matt Kressy, Michael Andelman were there, and so were some former Colavita team mates Thad Lavalee, Kieran Lynch, Brad Buckley, Mark Stockwell, Wade Tardiff... The pace wasn't crazy fast, but there was a lot of action at the front. Bad crash about 1/2 way through on the sweeping bend. Someone hooked Mark Stockwell, who in turn went down together with Matt Kressy.. It was loud and ugly, like a train wreck- you want to look away but you can't. I wasn't in a position to stop and help so I went another lap and then stopped to check on them. Mark had no life threatening injuries, but my wife says his shoulder looked hurt- he couldn't put his bike up on his rack I'm told.. Matt buttered the course with some epidermis, a lot of it, but was otherwise okay, and even got back in and finished, with honors (third in the final sprint). I did a mediocre amount of suffering, more in the first half.. So many riders were letting gaps open up and requiring those behind to turn the screws to get around and regain contact.. Very tiring, but to be expected in a combined field. Surprisingly, no one could force a break and it came down to a field sprint..I had high hopes for the sprint and positioned myself quite favorably on the inside of the final bend, then several riders jumped early on the far left and many of us were caught in it's wake, by surprise. I was overgeared and my acceleration sucked for it. Managed to pick off a few riders before the line and claimed 9th. Damn. What a crap shoot. Or is it? Not gonna be hard on myself... Last season I was thrilled just to finish in the top 50 percentile. This year I've been in the top ten finishers numerous times. Matt took third, which is awesome considering the blood and raw flesh exposed all over him. Michael says he sat up at the end...So Wells Ave is over for 2006. I feel kind of depressed about it... March can't come soon enough. This winter will be the first where I actually try to ride and hold on to some fitness for the spring. Usually I do nothing from September until April, and I add 20 pounds in the process. Not gonna happen this time. A third contiguous year of racing is going to see me crashing podiums in 2007 for sure. I have a nice video clip which I'll try to add later.

Friday, September 22, 2006

How I Became a Cat Two

Things were different in the 1980s... You mailed an application for your license and waited 3-4 weeks for it. It was printed on a piece of thin cardboard, too large for your wallet.. You had to bend it in half and it would separate into two by about June... Your top 6 results were recorded on the back by the officials.. Six speed freewheels, toe clips and straps, lace-up shoes, steel bikes with lots 'o chrome, Mavic GP4's, GL330's and GEL280's..., Clemente Criterium Super silk tubulars, friction shifting, ugly helmets covered in cheesy fabric... good times. Such was the atmosphere when I first pulled a USCF license in 1988... They were yellow cardboard that year. Racing age: 16. On the reverse, two results are noted in chicken scratch:
7/16/88, Giro of Buffalo Crit: 2nd place... This was the race where I discovered that it's possible to sprint seated, because that's how I was beat. With the gear restriction I was totally spun out and Jeff Pierce stole the race from me, seated and spinning his ass off...
9/18/88, Tour de Corning: 6th place... This was a stacked field! and the course was a four mile climb followed by a four mile descent... A late season kick in the ass, going up that climb..
Other results not noted on there: 4th at the UB Classic crit (beaten by Todd Scheske for 3rd), 2nd at the Thatcher's Park RR, (during a snow storm- my first ever USCF race), 5th at the Whitney Point Road Race, 12th at the Wilkes Barre Crit, 30th at the Endless Mountain road race (featuring George Hincapie! who took 2nd), 11th at the Lilac Festival Crit.
As you can see, these results were nothing to write home about. That's okay because in 1989 I had some very consistent results and on July 8th I was upgraded to cat 3. To wit, the back of my blue 1989 license had these results noted:
5/13/89, Albany Tulip Festival Crit: 4th place... I became ill after this one, I worked so hard for that result. If memory serves, George H. won this one..
5/27/89, Perry's Akron Chase RR: 3rd place.. I have no recollection of this event, other than the 1 km climb I muscled over on every lap.
5/28/89, UB Classic: 3rd place.. beaten for 2nd by Ryan Muncy of Syracuse.. lone breakaway by an out-of towner
7/9/89, Johnstown RR: 4th place.. This race was MINE and getting blocked in the sprint had me practically coasting into 4th
Other noteworthy results of that year: 7th in the Wantagh Classic Crit (another event featuring Hincapie), 10th at the Bank of Newport Classic crit (my team mate, Derek Larson won it, I also took a prime), 3rd at the Lilac Festival Crit (lots of hosers came down from Kanada for this one), 23rd at the Can-Am Challenge Crit, 69th at the Enchanted Mountain Stage Race, Crash and DNF at the Chris Thater Crit, 1st at the Tour of Schenectady Crit, Lapped and DNF at Junior Cyclocross Nationals... There's another race in Turkey which I won: a large elite/junior combined field (2nd overall and 1st junior) The winner was also named Murat, and the only reason he beat me is because he wasn't using a junior freewheel (15-19) as I was.. This was a points race with a sprint every 5 laps. He later raced in Europe, in events which included the youthful Bjarne Riis and Olaf Ludwig... I have a podium picture I'll share one day.. I got 10th in the road race on the previous day..
And that's all it took to be upgraded to cat TWOOO. I wrote Ralph McReadie a letter during the winter and I got my upgrade on my pink 1990 "SENIOR MEN" license on 2/28/06... What happened between then and now, I can't explain without being really long-winded, so I'll save it for another time.
Adjusted for USCF "inflation", I'm really a cat 3 I suppose... but becoming a 2 wasn't something which exactly fell into my lap. I'm keeping it. Hope you enjoyed this frolic in yester-year. Thanks for reading... Fuck-it, here's a link to some reminiscing and photos I posted back in 2005 to record the memories. I'm on the left. B&W picture in there of my father racing too..
Thanks for reading. -Murat

New bike: Fuji Cross Pro

Bought it today for 800 clams. Pity my ignorance and help me choose shoes and pedals.
I don't want to fall prey to the typical buyer's remorse of "Bought a cross bike... raced it, once..."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Road Rage in Rhode Island

Okay before I explain today's misfortune, I would like to thank my team for leaving me swinging in the breeze out here... Numerous requests for additional contributors have gone unanswered... Numerous updates sent via the team Yahoo group have barely caused a blip on the site's traffic. So... effective very shortly, the title of this blog changes to something else of my choosing, and it may as well because for it to be called Union Velo blog, there needs to be interest and participation from the rest of the team. The list of my esteemed sponsors will remain in the sidebar, no matter what. Enough said. You all had your chance. Suggestions for the new title?
Today, this evening, I am riding home from work. It's 6:00 or so and I'm on Main Street in West Warwick, approaching Fairview Ave, only 1/4 mile from my house.. There is a long line of cars building at the stoplight. I'm passed by a small pick-up truck (surprised?) driven by a man of large age (and girth). He presses his vehicle as close to the curb as possible, trying to block me from overtaking vehicles stopped at the light. This annoys me, and I think to myself "What would David Schwartz do?" Never one to miss a chance to speak his mind.. and rightly so most of the time.. I unclip from my right shoe and squeeze in between said truck and the curb to tell the driver what I think of his behavior. The second I peered into the cab and met his glare, he laid on the horn, scaring the wits out of me. He's also swinging his arm toward the sidewalk, as if to say "Get off the road!" I detect the precariousness of my position and surge forward, in front of the elderly rage-a-holic. I'm now directly in front of him, and he surges behind me, horn blaring non-stop. I have a legal right to be in the lane because I am about to turn left onto Fairview, the arrow is green. He follows me through the turn and continues to surge and harrass and taunt me with his vehicle, his fist and his horn. I had his license plate memorized before ever seeing his face. When he saw me pointing towards his front tag, he knew the deal and sped around me and up Fairview Ave. I turned onto Maple Avenue, where I live. I got home and promptly called the police to report the incident. An officer stopped by an hour later and heard my side of it, took down the plate number. He promised me to pay this fella a visit to inform him that threatening me with deadly force (his truck) is criminal... That's my story.
This is a typical story I think, and I wonder how many of us actually call the police under such circumstances. I have to admit I was afraid, and it wasn't long ago that I was T-boned by a car in Cranston and hospitalized...
I have to ask my fellow cyclists, would you have avoided this confrontation (stayed behind the truck without passing) or would you have done as I did and tried to communicate? Needless to say, I never used a swear word or any obcene gestures, just received them. Another question: Would he have threatened me if I was elderly, or if I was a ten year old kid, or if I was a woman? I want to believe 'no', that there was discrimination involved, because the thought of him exploiting [his perception of]weakness in such a situation makes me want to vomit. This person was looking for a fight and chose to deliberately provoke me from the second he went by and shut down my path. Your comments appreciated. Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Bob Beal Criterium etc

As it turns out, I completed yesterday's time trial in 7:12 which was good enough for 21st place (out of ~30) The times in my age group ranged from 6:06 to about 7:50. Since I did this full "cannibal" I'm not being too hard on myself for failing to break the 7 minute barrier (my goal was to beat 7:30). I nearly caught my 30 second man and the guy behind me made up only 7 seconds on me. Finishing one place out of the points was frustrating; would a disk or clip-on bars make such a big difference? I think maybe 15-20 seconds, at best. I resolve to find out next September.
Today's criterium went fairly well. I was nervous, stressed and pissed off at the start- our toddler "Reis" (yes it's pronounced "race") has a mild fever and was miserable from the moment he awoke. Of course my wife wasn't too happy about my refusal to stay home, and they came along. Understandably, no one was smiling... We raced in tandem with the 30-34 field, starting about a minute apart. As predicted by one of the 35s at the start, we caught and passed the 30-34 field. THAT was a little bit hairy. Two riders got away and stayed away until the end. I was put into difficulty quite a few times, but stayed very close to the front- it's so easy to get gapped at Ninigret and then blow your wad closing the gap while fully exposed to the wind.. 24 riders finished the crit, and I gave it everything in the tank to get 12th and bag 9 points... good enough for 18th overall. People were crazy stupid on that final sweeping bend, and a few of us had to squeeze the brakes and/or swerve to avoid hitting the deck.
In the road race yesterday (I know I'm out of order here) I felt pretty good, especially on the rollers at Kings Factory Road. On the last two laps I was very active and went with a few moves which were reeled in quickly. On the final lap I drilled it up the hills at the very front, maybe to force some kind of selection, but did little but string the field out a little bit. The final sprint came way too soon because I was trying to both move up and shake the red-line effort of the hills. Sprinted my ass off for a disappointing 17th place finish, and 4 points.
Great event, beautiful weather, well organized and safe venue. Had lots of fun and made a few new friends, including Gewilli from the Providence Bike team. Didn't get to meet FnFoley but spied his results today- 3rd overall! I'm envious but inspired to get better, especially at sprint positioning and time trialing.
I've added a Flickr account with all of the pictures my dear wife took of the 35-39 crit. Check them out.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Jonathon Dechau: Cat 1 cyclist killed by motorist in Western New York

It's lucky that I found this information, as I was just browsing the Bike Forums website that I just joined tonight. (check the link to see the outpouring of anger, regret and condolences to this tragic event) Jonathon was a very successful Cat 1 competitor in Western, NY; Rochester area to be exact. While I never knew him personally, I know that we have a lot of common friends - in the year he started out racing (1989), I was president of the Genesee Valley Cycling Club. The scary part is that I've trained on the road where this accident occurred.

Cyclist Killed Near Rochester, NY By Alan Cote
Every cyclist's worst fear was realized for Jon Dechau on the evening of September 13. Dechau,
33, was killed after being struck from behind by a motorist. The accident occurred in Lima, New York, about 20 miles south of Rochester.
The Livingston County sheriff's office said that Dechau was riding westbound on the shoulder of
route 20 approximately two feet to the right of the white line.A sheriff's spokesman said a westbound vehicle driven by Sharon Cameron, 61, crossed the white line and struck Dechau from behind at approximately 45-50 mph, and Dechau died at the scene.
Cameron could not provide an explanation to police as to why her vehicle drifted from the travel lane to the shoulder. She freely submitted to a blood test as part of the accident investigation, and police do not believe she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Results of investigation will determine if charges will be filed against Cameron.
Dechau was a champion cyclist who began racing with the Genesee Valley Cycling Club in
1989. His cycling accomplishments included winning numerous medals at the Empire State Games and State Championships, competing in the 2000 Olympic trials, and two top-20 finishes in the US National Time Trial Championships. In late 2000 signed to ride as pro for the ill-fated Noblehouse team, before turning his attention to family and work in more recent years. A man of deep Christian faith, he leaves his wife Debbie, 9 year old son Tyler, and new born baby (Lillian Page). Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.
Please click on the title of this message to be directed to the GVCC site where many pictures of Jonathon can be viewed. Jonathon's Cycling Team, JW Dundee's Ales & Lagers has a blog where some very heartfelt comments are posted by friends and team mates.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Bob Beal RR and TT Result

Kurt Loell in RR: 38th
Steve Senne in RR: 27th
Murat in RR: 17th (woo-hoo 4 points!)
Mike Shireman: I looked for your name on the results and didn't see it there! Did you race boss?

More RR details later, after the crit is over. Time Trial results were not posted when I sped away to get home, so I'll see how I did tomorrow morning before the crit at 12:00 noon. For now I'll just leave you with my pathetic TT result of 7:15 (using nothing aero whatsoever). I'm wringing my hands wondering if I beat ANYBODY with that time. Average heart rate was 182, and the sight of those two pylons at the finish was such a relief that there were tears in my eyes... But on the bright side- I almost caught my 30 second man, and no one caught me! Not even the full aero/disc/helmet dude who started a minute behind me.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The one-two Astana punch: Kazakhstan Rules!

Very happy to see two guys from an unlikely country, dominate a European event in Spain. Also happy to find a crumpled up $10 bill on the Cranston bike path this morning on the way to work... (I too, fisted the air) Rain forced me to drive home, which is why I keep a car at work and one at home... Nothing but rest for me until Saturday morning... May the sun god Apollo prevail. This rain is a real buzz-kill.

A group of riders evade a media motorcycle during the 17th stage of the Tour of Spain cycling race between Adra and Granada September 13, 2006.
(SPAIN)13 Sep 2006 REUTERS/Victor Fraile

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Bob Beal Masters Weekend, Tom and Vino

Union Velo will have a total of four riders in competing in this weekend's Bob Beal Masters Weekend event: Michael Shireman(40-44), Steven Senne (45-49), Kurt Loell (45-49), and myself (35-39). Looks like I'll be all alone in the 30-39 field... kind of like at Wayne Elliot. Where is everybody? Rick? Rick? Jay? Michael?

Online registration was supposed to close at 10:00 pm tonight, but has been extended to 9:00 am Thursday. I signed up at exactly 10:00, thinking I missed the cut. Hopefully the weather cooperates.

Hey how about that Tom Danielson and Vinokourov today?!?! Does Tom seem to have a beer gut? No surprise that Vino took time on Valverde.. It was inevitable. Right now easyodds sports betting give Vino 1/4 odds and Velverde 37/20 odds of winning the final GC. Whatever that means. If I were a betting man, I'd be "all-in" on Vino.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Maxim Magazine's 20 Most annoying Things in Sports

Yes I have a subscription, but the October issue I just received ranks "Cycling Apparel" as the 7th most annoying thing in sports, and I'm offended. To wit:
"Spandex was meant for two kinds of people: drug fiends trying to win the Tour de France and American Gladiators. If you're neither, just put on some regular shorts."

Monday, September 11, 2006

David Schachte: Planet Dirt Report

This weekend the gang was out at the “Daytona” of MTB racing. Hingham, MA was the site of the Landmine event with a short track on Saturday and the cross country on Sunday. This course always brings out more racers to mix things up.

The star for Union was none other then
Ben Corbalis who took 1st in Saturday’s short track and 1st again in Sunday’s cross county!!!!!! Way to go. At this rate he should be going into Cross Season ready to do it to it. Schachte tried to mix it up Saturday in the pro/expert field but as usual the Gear Works guy came out and he settles for a 6th.

Beside Ben getting the double, Scott S got more points for a 5th place finish while J.C. took home 2nd in his expert class. Nice going J.C. Our new man in the expert single speed, Roger Wharton, got a nice 3rd place finish while our old man
Ray Martin took another 1st. Ray will be donating all of that swag he has been getting.

Schachte was able to at least get the final spot as for as points are concern with a 10th. Two races left to go.

P.S. Speaking of Cross, you better get signed up for Gloucester Grand Prix! It is filling up fast.


Michael Andelman: Topsfield without any top gears

Topsfield was grand. I felt grand. My three plus (retail) grand bike broke which was not quite grand. Yes, my derailleur cable, misspelled and tattered gave way to forceful shifting. In turn, as mentioned before, the cable snapped, leaving me to contend with fast speeds in a 39-14 (39-12 was not an option due to metal against metal grinding). Pedalling at 155-169 rpm kept me in the frayed cabled frays of the pack along with my non-responsible decending.. with five laps to go, I dropped back from thepack and drafted the wheel support vehicle until I was "yelled at" by offficials. Yet, another official; her name is Sandy said, "Honey, finish." And I spun spun spun along to the finish
In Dead Last but not Abandoned,
Michael D. Andelman
avec broken frame and all..

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Wayne Elliot Result

To avoid turning this into my own personal racing diary, or rather, to avoid perpetuating the trend, I posted the story of my Wayne Elliot adventure over at Amerikan Turk. I'd ask for a race report from the rest of the team, but I was the only one there! (at least at the 30+ event) Whatever the rest of the team did today, I hope it was a blast. Full results

Topsfield 411

Such a full day it's been! Suffice to say that after racing at Topsfield, we found enough to do in the Boston area that we didn't get home until 9:00!
Topsfield was a blast. For me a test, because it's the first road race I've tried since 1995, in which my out-of-form sorry ass was summarily dropped by an elite field in Izmir Turkey... The road race prior to that: 1988 or 1989 Endless Mountain Road Race in Binghampton NY, where 2nd place was taken by none other than 16 year old George Hincapie. I've stuck to crits because of an aversion to long hills, and because I'm built for short fast bursts of speed. At any rate, I pre-registered for Topsfield not knowing what to expect, other than the "rolling hills" which were touted on the race flyer. To me, it's not a real hill unless you're in the little ring, and today's race featured no such climbing. Man was I relieved after lap number one. The rollers were really easy to get over, especially from the nose bleed section where I took shelter. I have to admit, I felt completely out of my element the first few laps. It felt like an over-sized Wompatuck, where the next bend is out of sight and you're cornering only because the dude in front of you is beginning to lean left or right.. The unpredictability of those first few laps kept me close to the back of the field. Once I became more comfortable with the twists and turns and descents, I moved up a bit, but never once did I contribute to the overall speed- I never took a turn at the front. For this I'm not proud, but hey I did what I had to do to survive the assault on my nerves. The last thing I wanted to do is waste energy and blow my wad and end up riding solo off the back... Whatever... in the end I achieved my goal of finishing the race, and I did it using more brains and less balls. Eleven laps and then an uphill finish up a side road.. With one lap to go, I gained some position going into the final corner. Was able to hold good speed taking the inside line, somewhere in the top 30... Then just as I'm getting out of the saddle to wind it up, someone decides to swing wide left without any regard for those about to blow past him (me). Completely took away my speed.. When he peeked and saw me (after the swerve) he yielded a bit to let me by and I gave it everything those last 50 or so meters, passing about 10 guys in the process. I thought I broke into the top 20, until I realized that four riders had already finished ahead of us, putting me in 23rd place, out of 67 finishers. I could have done better, there was lots of gas still left in the tank. Sitting in and sucking wheel all day, it comes as no surprise. I think that getting hooked like that in the sprint cost me at least ten places. I guess I'm happy with the way I fought and gained position in the end. What I regret is being so damn skittish and nervous for the first half of the race.
As for our speedsters Matthew Kressy and Michael Andelman:
Matt finished in the money with a 10th place (6th in the sprint)
Michael had a mechanical problem- a busted cable- and was forced to quit with about 5 or 6 laps to go.
Me- 23rd
Full results

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Friday, September 08, 2006

Have you seen this bike?

Click title.. especially if you're a big fan of Calvin & Hobbes.

Sanchez Barely Wins Breath-taking 13th Stage

I'd be grinning too. Reading the Velonews live update window had me on the edge of my seat, especially at today's finish.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Union Team headcount for Topsfield Road Race

We have Matt Kressy, Michael Andelman, and myself and that's as far as I know. If you're in and I don't know it, add a comment below please. We may have a few guys doing the Wayne Elliot Crit or Wells Ave on Sunday, but the forecast calls for rain...

Do patch kits have a certain shelf life? I got my third flat today, in as many weeks, and I just can't seem to get my patches to hold air... The patches I tried to use were bought two Mays ago... Very glad and lucky I was also carrying a new tube with me tonight.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

ASTANA again!

Here we go again! No I'm not referring to Astana's 3rd consecutive stage victory at the Vuelta... I'm talking about the Union Velo Blog having yet another entry by Yours Truly, while the majority of our club/team shows apathy. Hey, maybe it's me, I don't know. This site wasn't created so that I can just talk about myself... but until some other members start contributing, complaints about the content will be dismissed completely. Enough said? This little site could be a lot more engaging if there were about 5 or more people willing to post a weekly article or race report.. I will persist no matter what because I firmly believe that in a year or two this 'blog is going to be very popular with the New England racing community... Mark my words.
"Things are going well for the team," said Paulinho, hailed as Portugal's best prospect since José Azevedo. "We've won two stages with Alexandre (Vinokourov) and now we're going to try to win this Vuelta." Read the complete Velonews report by Andrew Hood

Monday, September 04, 2006

"Labor Day" ride, Vino, and Kazakh trivia

When I left the house this morning at 6:30 am, it never occurred to me that I would crack 100 miles of riding... 25 miles to get to the shop, 46 miles with DaveS , Dave S, Raymond, Jose, Alex, Billy.. and the in-line skater guy whose name don't know (yes I should be slapped for that, but $10 says he doesn't know my name either), then another 30+ mile ride to get home. Remarkably, I didn't cramp at all until mile 103, just a few minutes away from my house. I'll admit: I lengthened my ride a little bit at the end to make sure I broke 100 (99 miles would have been upsetting to my OCD). That I did, racking up 103.9 miles in 5:21:25 (100 miles were covered in 5:08:30) Needless to say, the leg muscles are over-cooked and tender, and I wonder if this much riding in one day is a benefit or a detriment to form and speed. I hit the split timer on my Polar when I arrived at the the shop, and again when I left it to go home. Here are the average speeds for the three phases of my ride:
25 miles to shop: average 19.7 mph (avg HR 143)
46 miles with Union team: 20.2 mph (avg HR 150)
32 miles from shop to home: 18.9 mph (avg HR 153)
Clearly I had a tailwind on the way to Attleboro, and a headwind riding home to West Warwick.
It was a good day to be out on a bike, especially with other riders for a change. Doing all of my training solo is getting to be a draggggg. You know you're bored when you stop and scold little kids on the bike path for going helmet-less.
In other news, 'Vino' won his 2nd stage in a row yesterday... I wonder if he's offended by Borat. (I hope not- the Kazakh government is suing Ali G for these parodies) According to the latest Velonews headline, Vuelta is now Valverde vs the Kazakhs. I'm not so sure... but Vino's stage 9 victory was quite convincing. He tends to get stronger as the race progresses, especially after winning. As for Kazakhstan, did you know it occupies an area the size of western Europe (1.05 million square miles- 9th largest country in the world) and has a population of only 15 million? ASTANA is also the name of the Capital of Kazakhstan. Thanks for reading.
PS: The original and correct "Labor Day" is actually May 1st according to The Anarchist Library.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Rain Will Persist Through Sunday

Wells Ave is no doubt cancelled for tomorrow, but Monday's report looks pretty favorable. I'm glad I logged 60 miles today in anticipation of Sunday being a rest day. Missed the team ride from the shop today by a couple of minutes, but it's all good. Had a superb ride of my own with no regrets. Today I salute Vinokourov for a crafty win in the Tour of Spain. It appears there is no OLN coverage of the Vuelta this year, and I sure wish I could see some of the action. Full Velonews report of stage 8 can be found here.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Polar Statistics for 2006

As the sun begins to set on the 2006 road racing season, I checked my Polar HRM charts and reports for some year to date totals. Being such a solitary rider (down here in RI) makes me wonder how my training program differs from others in the club or on the team... Check this out:

Hours in the saddle
Total= 166:16 (First ride was on March 26th) Average/Week= 7:13
In 2005, I rode for 169:41 hours thru 9/1, and covered 200 fewer miles than this season, same period.

Distance covered
Total= 3056 Average/Week= 133
(Average would be higher if I wasn't hit by a car! Took 2 weeks off in July)

Time in HR zones
121-140= 33:31
141-150= 33:05
151-160= 42:17
161-170= 31:18
171+= 18:42

That about sums it up. If anyone besides me uses a HRM and uploads the data daily as I do, it would be great to hear some feedback, compare notes, etc.

The next couple of days look like we're in for a thorough soaking. Hopefully we can get a nice long ride in tomorrow before the rain starts. I'll be up at six and plan to ride to Attleboro, into 25 mph wind gusts from the NE. Hopefully I can resist the urge to catch up on sleep. It's been a rough week.

Who's up for a nice long Labor Day ride from the shop? -Murat

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

NORBA ROOT 66 Series: 5 podium spots for Union

Round 12 of the NORBA ROOT 66 series saw the gang from UNION putting on one of the best showings of the year! Podium spots for 5 of the gang.

After several races with perfect conditions it was only a matter of time before the rain came back, and did it ever. Mud on top of lots of roots and rocks was the order of the day. That did not matter to the technical savvy riders. Scott S took home a long awaited 1st place along with Ray Martin on the single speed. Ray has the title wrapped up. His only goal now is to complete the entire series (15 races) to get the “IRON RIDER” t-shirt. Cheryl took home 1st place after taking some time off of the racing scene. Obviously the time off did nothing to slow her down. Ben was up there once again with a 3rd place finish.

Our newest member to the squad saw Roger Wharton from Cape Cod place 2nd in the expert single speed. He is the latest David Schwartz recruit.
Schachte once again saw that 7th place spot. He is just holding off until he gets into that 50+ category next year. Overall a great day.

With 3 races left, the category standings are: SPORT 40-49 Scott 1st / SPORT 19-29 Ben in 2nd / SPORT WOMEN 35+ Cheryl 2nd place /
SPORT OPEN SINGLE SPEED Ray has 1st locked up and EXPERT 40-49 Schachte holding on to 4th.

Until next time,

Monday, August 28, 2006

La Vuelta

It's been a long, rainy and bike-free day so I made the best of it by adding some improvements to our blog. Notice the additions to the sidebar, which include many team and personal rider blogs, as well as the Union Velo Team sponsors... This picture I found on Velonews is pretty amazing too. Could someone please try out the comments feature? Many thanks.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Wells Avenue: August 27th Race Report

After much disagreement with the Mrs and with the help of my bull-headed resolve, I made it to Wells Avenue today, by myself, eager to test the legs and perhaps make my mark. Fields were not combined, which is fine with me except that it makes me regret leaving the house so darn early.. Mark Stockwell won the B race by at least a bike length. He's a former team mate and friend who always takes the time and effort to shoot great quality pictures of his team mates (and even his former team mates- like me!) Good job Mark- you truly made it look easy at the end there.

Union Velo had myself and two others in the event today: Jay Busse and Matt Kressy. I saw Jay very active in some early moves, and I spied Matt at the front a few times blocking for him. Otherwise, we seemed to criss cross eachother front to back as each of us put in some time at the front and drifted back to recover. We didn't have this warm and fuzzy sense of unity for whatever reason. Maybe it's just me... Hopefully my decision to wear an old Genesee Valley Cycling Club jersey didn't send the wrong message to Jay. Actually, Matt asked if I was changing teams and I assured him in no uncertain terms that I was just being nostalgic. The GVCC jersey has been with me since 1987, and it's the one in which I have won the most races. In fact, I served as President of the club during 1989 (at the very young age of 18!) At any rate, it was a pretty full "A" field with three of us present.

Half-way prime: I found myself with the strength and the speed to be a contender in this one, for a change! Matt and another- I don't know who- accelerated beautifully coming out of the sweeping right hand bend, and I found myself in 3rd wheel with about 75 meters to go, until some one in a red shirt swerved left and stole most of my momentum. I ended up crossing 4th for no money, but with a definite mental boost. Matt took 1st or 2nd, and I was happy to witness it up close.

Today I was as calm as a Buddhist cow and avoided as much un-necessary work as possible- I did no chasing of stupid hopeless breaks, decided against dragging the field down the road on my nickel. Frankly, I sat in as much as possible. With about 10 to go I went for another prime drawing from my re-discovered confidence taken from the half-way prime. Without enough gas to take it, I drifted across in third, but with a breath-taking gap on the field. It's nice to look back and count yourself among a handful of people who just dusted everyone else.

With just a couple of laps to go I felt strong enough to gain position and found all kinds of holes to get through. The final sprint starting winding up pretty early so I tried to be as attentive and as resourceful as possible. So much of the final result depends upon whose wheel you follow, and most often we find ourselves on the wrong wheel, while the right wheel goes whizzing by.. Today I was fortunate and found myself very close to Matt coming out of the final bend. I got out of the saddle early and could see myself getting a very good result... very smooth and powerful acceleration... tasting a good result... then Matt's shoe broke free of his pedal and for a split second I thought today would mark my 4th trip to the hospital this season. Luckily he managed to swing left and I made it through, less some speed, but I held it for 6th place.

Friday, August 25, 2006

"Begin. The rest is easy"

Greetings, this is Murat. Member of the Union Velo Masters Team centered in Attleboro, MA. This blog site was created about a month ago and I've had little time to contribute to it. Thinking it's about time I did something, here's an entry which says little, but accomplishes a lot. It's a beginning, and hopefully the Chinese proverb is correct.

Union Velo Team: We need contributors! You've left this blog in the hands of one who can screw up a cup of coffee! Step up and contribute!