America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

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

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Pardon my bad attitude

Don't mean to bird-dog anyone with my last rant.. I'm just on edge about things at work and about my dad.. who is very ill.. There's a lot on my plate these days and this is where I vent at times that I can't take out my frustrations on the bike. Thank you for reading. Comments since last post much appreciated. (I can't comment in Blogger from work.. Have to resort to posting via e-mail.. my head is totally not into work right now, I'm here in the flesh only, heart and mind is someplace else)

Today's post

I've just returned from a day trip to Falmouth where I am managing a $1.5 million project. A hearty serving of Szechuan shrimp and fried rice now occupies my stomach. Oh so satisfying. Almost went to Haruki for some sushi, but that get's kind of pricey. Bit down on my tongue something fierce this morning while eating. There was blood. Nothing breaks my intense concentration of enjoying good food more than inadvertant tongue biting. It's like Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde kind of pain. 
This is the fourth week of a solid training build and my legs really look forward to next week's series of sissy rest rides in preparation for the Nutmeg Criterium on Saturday. The month of May should total about 1000 miles by the time I complete tonight's ride home from work. Saturday is a 3-1/2 hour endurance ride. Not sure where I'll be going with that one. If anyone has compatible intensity/duration plans for Saturday, let's meet up in the early AM. Don't everyone write me all at once!: reiscotools at yahoo dot com.
Sunday I will not be driving three hours north for the RR and crit offered up there. Instead I hope to race at Wells Ave, presuming that traffic issues and weather permit. It's been many weeks and I'm anxious to test out the legs. Might even video record the race in the rear facing mode. Speaking of videos, the Hartford Crit video is getting a healthy amount of traffic.. And these days I can't help but notice [via Sitemeter] that many people are seeking photographs from that event. Well I happen to have a few in my Flickr badge, but nothing worth framing. I remember seeing a photographer at the race, taking zoom shots with a big lens. If anyone knows who that was, or if they have a website, please let me know because like many others, I would also like to get a decent pic of myself in action (in pain).
Which reminds me.. these race videos I'm recording and sharing are [regrettably] among the most thankless and unsatisfying things I've ever done. I never get to see myself, and on top of that those who do benefit or enjoy the vids don't bother to let you know it. Why bother? Well, because no one else is doing it, and someone should be.. So I continue, on a discretionary basis. And while I'm on the subject of thanklessness, let me touch upon the matter of reciprocity... Never mind... Just don't be surprised to see that my Blogroll has diminished in size. To me, failure to reciprocate seems the equivalent of refusing to answer the door when someone knocks, and they know you're home.  You try to be a good neighbor.. like a Ned Flanders would be... and... nothing. Enough of that shit. Many thanks to those who do care enough to copy/paste/modify a simple line of code.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Stefano Garzelli celebrates on the Stage 16 Giro d'Italia podium

Italian rider Stefano Garzelli celebrates on the podium after the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia from Agordo to Lienz in Austria May 29, 2007. (AUSTRIA)  REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Monday, May 28, 2007

Hartford Criterium of 2007: Pro-1-2 Race Video

As promised! I stayed up quite late getting this completed and uploaded to Google. The brightness and contrast is good, but Google compresses the file and we lose some resolution. Nothing we can do about that.. unless we burn the original uncompressed file to a DVD...
A note about comments. If you view this video at the Google website (click on the title above) then you can leave comments there and give everyone a heads up of when your team mates are in view. Simply indicat the "minutes: seconds" and Google turns it into a clickable link which takes visitors there automatically. In addition, please take a few seconds to click on my sponsor links, both here and at I make a few pennies with each click, and it costs you nothing. Thanks for watching. Hope you will share the link to this page with your friends. Many thanks.

Hartford Criterium Race Report: Pro-3

I can't say that this race was much different than the 30+ event, except for a few exceptions. 40 laps instead of 25, 28.5 mph average instead of 27.5, 125 starters instead of 100, and NO time spent [by yours truly] even remotely close to the front of the field. We seemed to be strung out over 1/2 the course at all times.. making it appear quite daunting to even consider moving up there. I do not have a good history with Pro races.. and do not remember finishing a Pro crit in a long time. Seems whenever I tried them, I was pitifully lacking in power, plus I would just plain get psyched out by the 140 pound young guns with their teams of six to eight racers. I was in it for the training and nothing more, this much is certain. Of course the big motivator during the first 30 minutes was to fill up my handlebar cam with some race footage. After that, it takes a certain desire to suffer back in the nose bleed section, in order to finish. Towards the end, during the last ten laps or so, I was really getting thrashed, and really beginning to feel the 750 miles of the past three weeks in my legs. Ultimately I found myself in Gap City, back where about a dozen or so riders are hanging on by a thread, handling their bikes sloppily because they're tired, and generally just getting in eachother's way trying to survive. With four to go someone flatted in the sweeping corner with all the cracks and bumps.. My luck, I'm behind this guy (who properly raised his hand) but that little bit of hesitation and care in trying to get around him.. really cost me. There was a sudden need to drill it to regain contact and stay connected. This took a lot out of me, as I was already at my limit. Coming up the finish straight with two to go, a Good Samaritan took pity on my ineffective thrashing on the pedals and gave me a push, a nice one, and I stayed in contact. G-d bless him. Wish I took note of his number so I could look him up and give him credit. I finished at the tail end of the field, completely gassed, and might not have made it without that little push.. Many thanks..
I was using a heavy Powertap wheel and carrying a 1 pound camera on my handlebars.. For what it's worth, I would have preferred my Easton rear wheel and no camera, for a mental edge if nothing else.
Video is complete, but it's taking 40 minutes to save it, then uploading to Google takes another hour, and they take a few hours to review it and approve.. Hopefully worth the wait. I added some decent music (I don't have a huge selection, so it's not exactly what I want, but I try to pick pieces which add some suspense or excitement to the footage) At least during the first 30 minutes I'm not way at the back.. more like about 2/3s back, so there's a good rotation of riders which you'll see in there. Well.. their asses anyway. Pointing the camera in reverse has it's advantages. Thought I'd try it forwards this time, so you see what I see. You'll also see all the holes I could have used to gain position, if only I was strong enough to.. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Hartford Criterium Race Report: 30+

Since it will take about 25 minutes to upload the crit video to Windows Movie Maker, I have some time to kill while I wait.
Masters 30+: This was a very short 25 lap race with a completely full field of 100. Now that I'm being coached by one who puts more emphasis on training than racing (since I have a lot of catching up to do, according to my power meter) I did a three hour endurance ride yesterday, with a little bit of tempo mixed in the middle. Had I told the coach that this was an "A" race for me, the approach would have been different. Today's race was for training, not for a result other than finishing. So I went into it relaxed, without pressure to thrash myself at the front the whole time, or make risky and dangerous moves. I moved around in the field as much as I could, trying to get better at the art of positioning-at-will (something I'm working on) Took a couple of digs at the front, wasting energy and watts and power.. The second attempt was a complete mis-fire, but with good intentions. With about three laps to go I resolved to get my ass to the front. Yoink- a big gap opens up with guys shooting through it, so I follow. Next thing you know I'm out in "Wonderland" trying to decide whether to drill it for all it's worth (with 1-1/2 laps to go), or sit up and hastily take cover for a lap and prepare for a sprint where I had a remote but not impossible chance of beating 80-90 guys to the line.. What do I do? A little of both, but a day late and a dollar short. I dangle off the front momentarily while the field looks upon me like I'm a bucket of "chum".
"He who hesitates, is lost".
In hindsight, (duh) I should have held back and saved it for the last 200 meters. Should have sat up as soon as I reached the front of the field and fought for a wheel.. Instead I blasted out some obcene wattage for about a minute [for no reason] and then I was swallowed up and nearly spit out the back. Just dug in for the last lap and held my crappy field position through the finish. Somewhere mid-field. No regrets. I won't beat myself up for trying something.. but then again, it's hard to refrain from wondering what could have been.
Upload complete!

Hartford Criterium: Pro-1-2-3 race footage video coming up!

It looks pretty sweet, at least before it's compressed by Google.. Today I finished both the 30+ and the Pro race.. not with much if any distinction, but happy to finish both.. and score the video footage. Stay tuned for "Ass-vertising" galore. Stay tuned.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Still using the Polar software!

I can't help it. After three seasons of data accumulation, looking back at the history is pretty damn convenient and informative. Now I have the Powertap's "PowerAgent" software, which is horrible. It can't execute a simple click without choking for about 5 seconds. I tried to upgrade to PowerAgent 7, but that failed completely. I have a few more days of trial period left with the WKO+ Cycling Peaks software, which is marginally better than the PowerAgent. Maybe I'm just not used to it. Not terribly interested in blowing another $75 to buy it. That said..
I just looked at my mileage for the season, to date, and here is how it compares to years past, Jan1 thru May 25:
2003: 573 miles
2005: 685 miles
2006: 1029 miles
2007: 2151 miles
Training time:
2003: 49 hours
2005: 49 hours
2006: 55 hours
2007: 133 hours

Giro Stage 13 TT: Ouch

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Doping: Murat's brain droppings on the subject

I've never used cocaine in my life. Something I'm proud of, but let me clarify. I've never been in the same room as cocaine before either, so claiming such a distinction isn't as big a deal is it? Maybe in my younger days if someone offered it to me, I would have accepted. Probably not- I'll give myself the benefit of the doubt on that one.. Today, of course definitely not..
What about doping? Performance enhancing chemicals? I've never used any of that stuff either. But again, it's never been accessible to me either. I've never known one who uses. I've never been offered a gel pack of testosterone. Again, I'll give myself the benefit of the doubt there too.. Not interested. My life doesn't depend upon winning races. That's the definition of "amateur" after all.. It means "for the love of".. Love of what? Love of "bike racing".. Our sport isn't called "Winning Bike Races". If it was, then about 90 percent of us amateurs would find ourselves in the wrong sport. 
I guess I'm trying to look at the situation in the Pro ranks subjectively. If you made your living, supported a family, and put food on the table by racing a bike, and if someone offered you a holy grail to job security, fame, fortune, glory.. how strong would you be to resist such temptation? What if you were a "low level pro"? Struggling with anonymity and relegated to what amounts to pack fodder? Just thinking out loud here. The vast majority of us who have never doped can be proud of racing clean and all, but bird-dogging and condemning every pro who has.. seems a little bit offsides to me. Until we've "raced a mile in their shoes", we're really in no position to judge their actions so harshly and so dismissively. Just getting to the level where doping enhances a pro's results, takes a very large level of natural talent, hard work and determination. This goes without saying. Those of us who haven't traveled that road and hit our glass ceiling of performance and results, have little or nothing of value to add to this controversy. Do I condone the use of drugs in sport? Certainly not. I'm simply taking a more emphatic, less ignorant view.
There are 1000 and 1 factors which enhance/diminish/affect performance. Training time and quality, disposable income, coaching, a supportive family, an accommodating work schedule or employer, sponsor support, equipment quality, geographic location, genetics, age, nationality, height, weight, body mass index, power.. or owning a Powertap, VO2 max, being free from disease, mental disposition, etc etc et al. How many of these factors are favorable for every single one of us? Or rather, for how many of us is every factor favorable? Which of them are in our direct control, which are not? Has doping evolved into one of the factors which are in our direct control? I like to think not, but such a denial seems delusional right now.
One thing is clear. None of the above named factors are ever considered to be unfair advantages or disadvantages, even the ones which we have some control over.
Food for thought.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Stressin' the engine.

Feeling the effects, or at least starting to. My ass is dragging this afternoon. Almost not looking forward to two hours of endurance pace after I leave this hell-hole. If not for the superb weather, I might have considered riding stright home, the short way. Maybe I ate too much at lunch time and just paying the price for it. Feel lethargic and heavy right now, when in fact I've finally broken the 170 pound barrier. I'm 169 in the AM, after breakfast and after my DME. All registered for the Hartford Crit, 35+ and Pro.. Looking forward to a result that's better than 20th for a change.. Team mate and Cinderella Man Neil Hull will be in the 35+ with me. Hope to see him continue to set a good example for me as one who can sprint pretty damn well.. The Pro event? Best to go into it with fun in mind, because all I really want to do is motorpace for 50 miles/laps/whatever. Pre-reg at the Cyclonauts Crit on Memorial Day is pretty light so far. I remember last year there was a very strong turn-out. What's up with that? One thing I liked about pre-reg for Hartford is that ALL events are $25 and that a 2nd race is only $15 more. Nice. As it should be. I see that fellow millworker Tom Officer is in there, Masters and Pro events. Fellow Amerikan Turk Turgut Balikci will be doing double duty in two masters races as well. Hope to meet him between events. Who else is going? I may enter our little one into the children's race. He's fast, even using a bike that has no pedals. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

USA Cycling Masters Criterium Rankings for Rhode Island

Bill Yabroudy tops the list of 45 total masters (all ages). I find myself in the top ten and hope to push upward a little bit after this weekend. Top ten beats a sharp stick in the eye I guess. I don't know how many people follow this stuff, but I find that it gives me a little motivation to "dig, fight and chew through the handlebars" in the final sprint, even if I know I'm out of the money. How will this list look after Hartford and Cyclonauts? I think it's worth watching. My money's on Bill to hold his position for the rest of the season. Can I scoot myself up to 6th or 7th? It's within reach I think, with a little bit of luck and some smart racing.

Still kind of tired

Very little and very poor quality sleep last night, and man I feel it today.. Overslept and drove the wife's minivan to work this morning. Then at lunch I bolted home, suited up and rode back to work. Now I can ride home and do all those nasty intervals which coach has prescribed. 20 min WU, 10 min FT, 5 min spin, 15 min FT, 10 min spin, 5 min FT ending at FT+5%, then 20 min spin 120-140 watts to cool down. Sounds easy.. until about 5 minutes into the first interval, then all of those miles I've been churning for the past two weeks will really catch up with me. I'm right in the center of a period, and in two more weeks I'll be in recovery mode in advance of Nutmeg Criterium and Keith Berger Criterium (which isn't on Bikereg???? What's up with that?)
This weekend: Hartford Criterium (my first time) to test the legs and the watts, followed by the Cyclonauts Criterium, where last year I was caught behind a crash with only two laps to go.. I promised Mike Norton that I would record the Cyclonauts race. Hopefully it's a bright sunny day on Monday or else the footage will suck.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Marco Pinotti: An unflattering photo of the Giro d' Italia leader

Thanks to... last night's episode of The Sopranos.. Am I the only one who sees that suicidal AJ bears a very strong resemblance to Floyd Landis?  
Italian rider Marco Pinotti celebrates on the podium after the eighth stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, 200 km (124 miles) from Barberino di Mugello to Fiorano Modenese, May 20, 2007. Norwegian rider Kurt-Asle Arvesen won the stage while Pinotti took the leader's pink jersey. (ITALY)  REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Numerous crashes in todays Pro-1-2 event at North Stonington.. made me wonder if getting shelled early spared me from some potentially heavy skin loss and other injury. I saw at least two ambulances and guys on stretchers. Made a training day out of it, but threw in the towel after 7 laps (of 12). Rode 212 miles for the week, 245 miles the week prior. Ouch. Yesterday was a three hour slog in the rain and drizzle at endurance pace (180 watts) Probably contributed to today's melt-down, but the plan was to stress the engine today, not to get on the podium. When you can't go any faster, you just can't. No amount of prayer or begging to the Gods of Wattage will help. Pro-1-2 races are tough. With only a few other exceptions besides myself, this 36 year old felt like the only old fart in the field. Looking forward to doing a masters crit soon.. Road races.. Grrrrr.

Friday, May 18, 2007

North Stonington Pre-ride Feedback

Seems I wasn't the only one training on the race course yesterday.. Ran into a couple of other riders.. Had to apologize to one of them for seeming unsociable, as it's hard to chit-chat while doing one minute on/one minute off intervals in rapid succession.. Also very hard to hold watts on such a rolling course. You're either getting into your granny gear or into the 53x14 to keep it pegged where you're supposed to. Still, it was great to see the course and inspect it's surface and scope out the "hill". At only five miles around, I think I can really get my head into this event. The "hill" seems to rise about 125-150 feet in 1 km, but it's really just a series of short rises with some flat relief in between them. I didn't try it in the big ring, but I imagine that with fresh enough legs, one could power to the top and easily open a gap on the little-ringers. Beautiful scenic course.. kind of narrow, no yellow line on a lot of it, might be a little hard to gain position, or easy to lose position if you're on the wrong wheel (like mine!). Kidding. I self-depracate with tongue in cheek, of couse. I think I'll have the legs to be there at the finish, which is at the top of the climb. There's a hairy fast corner at the bottom of the descent, when we turn onto Hangman Hill Road. We'll be flying through that turn.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Succinctly speaking..

I will be training on the North Stonington course later today.. caught in yesterday's rain storm while riding in Coventry after work.. pushed my luck.. got drenched.. rode 5 minutes to work this AM when I realized I forgot to take out the trash.. was under-dressed anyway, so I doubled back, took care of trash, added skull cap, wind breaker and changed shoes.. yeah my spare shoes felt too weird.. one cleat was loose.. preferred to wear the wet shoes BION.. Rode in to work late too.. one minute intervals at FT scheduled for tonight.. ten in a row with one minute recovery in between.. then another three later on at FT +5% for good measure.. one min recoveries.. fretting about the hill at Stonington a little bit.. maybe better not to see it?.. but I hate surprises. This one is supposed to be about 1 km.. I should be able to handle it. The watts will be interesting to see.. comparing today to race day.. 170.5 pounds! Almost there.. 160s here I come! Weight loss has been slow and steady since February.. There's a 150 pound person beneath all of this flubber. Ciao!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

North Stonington Classic: I'm in (?)

I've been directed to do the Pro-1-2-3 event at the North Stonington Classic this Sunday. I'm apprehensive, nervous, wringing my hands about it, yet still cautiously optimistic. Road races are not my thing, especially if they're over 50 miles and include a 1 km climb. Coach says it will do me good to give it my best shot AND complete it at tempo pace if/when I get shelled. "Finish what you start" ;)
So I will pass on the 35+, which is potentially just as fast, but half the distance. Voice in my head thunders that this is the wrong move, but I guess it's for a training benefit, more so than a result. I hope not to be an early casualty. Every ounce of my being will go into selecting a solid wheel and not letting go, especially on the climb. I do like the start time very much though: 2:00 pm. Means I can get a full 8-9 hours of sleep, which is rare.
I don't know what I'm so afraid of, my form isn't that horrible right now. I'd venture to say that I'm not that far from my condition at the Topsfield race last September, where I got 23rd in the P-1-2-3 event. (I know I keep bringing that up, but realize that was only the second road race I'd done since 1995, so it was huge for me to finish something other than a crit for a change, even if it required me to sit-in the whole time in order to survive) Yeah, I know, I don't do that great in crits either, but I enjoy them a whole lot more.

Introducing: Haluk Sarci, 3rd place at Bear Mountain

Who? Haluk Sarci. I don't know him personally myself.. but the name sort of stands out for a guy like me, one who sometimes feels completely isolated from the homeland we call the Turkish Republic. So when I discover another Turkish bike racer who has earned a solid result (any result!) in a race here in the US, it's a special occasion. Forgive me if this comes off as racist, it's not. I'm a Turkish nationalist, it wouldn't matter if Haluk were a Kurdish-Armenian Sephardic Jew, as long as he's a Turkish national, that's all that matters in my eyes. That said, let me draw attention to Haluk's recent podium finish in the 40+ Bear Mountain Spring Classic. (Take note that 55 year old Tom Officer is also tearing it up in the 40+ event, in 4th place) It appears that Haluk is a very successful triathlete and also a coach. You can view the particulars here. I salute him for his great result and look forward to meeting in person, maybe at a venue in CT sometime.
Haluk Sarci was born in Istanbul, Turkey and began his athletic adventures as a member of the National Track and Field Team in Turkey. An Olympic qualifier for the 1980 Olympics, Haluk held the honor of representing his country even though they were eventually boycotted. In 1984 Haluk immigrated to the United States where he participated in six New York City Marathons and five Boston Marathons where he set his personal record of 2 hrs. 35 min. Haluk has experience in the sport of Duathlon, Triathlon, Running, swimming, and road cycling. He has been participating in triathlons for more than nine years and has competed in many national and international events.

Another quickie.. HR vs Watts

What an eye-opener this Powertap device is. Took my first ride home from work with it yesterday, at the CORRECT "active recovery" pace. Seems that I haven't really done a proper recovery ride in the past three years! Typically, my goal on recovery rides was to simply keep the average heart rate in the 135-140 range. All the while I was in "endurance" mode.. Last night riding home from work, I averaged 125 watts and 114 Avg HR. And this morning, more evidence that HR is not as useful a measure as we thought: Ride to work this AM was 118 watts, 121 avg HR. Why? Maybe because of the tail wind? Maybe because it was 20 degrees cooler out than last night? Morning vs evening? Most likely, riding to work is more stressful than riding home, me thinks.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Coach says...

No training races for the next month or so (Grrrr..) at least until after Keith Berger Crit.. (which is one of my "A" events- I am aiming to do really well there) Will be hard to keep away from Ninigret. Need to focus on other training goals right now. Next few weeks are going to hurt.

Reak quick..

Powertap lacks many of the features of my Polar 710i. (temp, altitude, lap time, start/stop) Maybe I just need to find better instructions.Not happy about that. I did my "field test" on Saturday and discovered the unsurprising/disappointing results.. Rode myself into the ground last week at 13-1/2 total hours, 245 total miles including commuting. Probably won't top that again for a few weeks. Drove in to work today. Will probably drive home and back for lunch to stock up on this week's work clothing, grab the bike and the gear and take an easy ride home. Weight is down to 171. Worked around the house all weekend pulling tree stumps, grading, moving earth, shoveling, spreading 4 cubic yards of landscape stone. Plan to race Wed night at Ninigret. I now have a definite training program in place, thanks to coach Todd Scheske.. It's nice to have a plan.

Friday, May 11, 2007

At the risk of getting soaked..

..Gewilli convinced me to ride home tonight. It's going to be a bittersweet ride too.. Saying goodbye to the old Polar 710i.. being the last ride I will use it for a while, if ever. Three years old and still works perfectly. Odometer has 10,632 miles on it, 575 hours of ride time, over half a million calories burned.. But not a single watt recorded... My 57cm epx is offered for the insane price of only $1200. A fast ride for the dough. If no interest in the next couple of days, it's going onto ebay to help replace the Powertap money.

Powertap: Little, yellow, different

Yeah that's the old "Nuprin" catch phrase from the 80s I think. Picked up my Powertap SL yesterday.. Not impressed with the amount of hardware your get for the money! (Talking over $1000 here) I'm assuming most of the bling-bling cost is in the hub and the 'puter. Worked out nicely that I was up in Boston yesterday, getting my ass reamed at an owner's meeting, by an architect who I have some history with at other projects.. Why can't I work with guys like John Lowenstein? or Wade Tardiff? or Tom Officer or Gulay's Husband Andy? (actually I did work with Tom long ago). (Any other racers work in carpentry, millwork, construction or architecture? Speak up! We'll form our own team!) At any rate, my sponsor calls and says the PT is IN. YESSS. I swing by on the way back to Providence and settle up. (My yellow epx bike is offered for sale, btw) The rest of the day sucked because I had to drive with wife and child down to JFK to pick up mother-in-law who flew in from Turkey. I love my mother in law, but I hate NYC.. even though I was born in Queens, and even though I lived in Woodside, Kew Gardens, and College Point until I was fifteen, I renew my vow never to live there again during every visit. Needless to say we got home pretty late. That's a lot of driving though.. Round trip to Boston, round trip to JFK, all in one day. Rode in to work this morning.. Keep seeing the same group of 2-3-4 guys on the bike path in the mornings, from the opposite direction. Can't make out the faces or the kits as we greet eachother. It's nice to see friendly faces before getting to work though.. I wonder if any of them are visitors here and think "there goes Murat". I flatter myself completely, I know. Not to pick at old wounds, but I can't help but note the irony of having so much weight given to my words, while being called a "nobody" at the same time. I guess that I'm not the only one who is prone to letting emotions cloud my judgment. Bygones. Peace.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ninigret Criterium

That's me dead center:
Did the Ninigret Crit last night. I was very hesitant to put myself out there, having DNF'ed the last four races I started. Confidence was at an all time low. So I just stayed sheltered for most of the race, conserved myself. Seemed to be about 60+ guys there. Cool and foggy out. Our team had three, one (Neal Hull) took 2nd in the final sprint
I was so surprised at not being put into difficulty that I didn't know what to do at the end. I maintained field position through the sprint, somewhere in the front 1/3 of the pack. I have to work on being more aggressive and more assertive in the field. Whenever someone behind you detects a bit of weakness, they go around you. Next thing you know, you're blocked on both sides and losing position fast. Crashing three times in the past 3 seasons has not helped any. Getting hit by a car and having your first kid also takes some of the edge off. You tend to stay on the side of caution. I hate that.
You will notice on the chart that during minutes 53, 54 and 55, I made an attempt to bridge up to a break with another. First I had to sprint to his wheel, then he pulled for half a lap, I pulled for half a lap, he pulled for half a lap, and then I pulled through for a little bit but was so gassed I had to sit up. He connected on his own (we were close) but the field picked up speed and caught the whole break within another lap. Felt good to try something though.. Like I said, I have to find little boosts to my confidance any way I can. Opening a gap on the field for a lap and a half helped somewhat.
Another revelation: I've been racing on the hoods for way too long. This is a bad habit of mine, and I do it mainly because I find it painful to be in the drops. It's painful because I never do it, and because of my (disappearing) gut... Well some recent yard work and some recent crunches and core exercises and rest seem to have strengthened my lower back and my abs. I was in the drops the whole time and didn't even realize it til I sat up after the finish. It's a sign that my head was into the race. Being on the hoods felt weird all of a sudden.
Note to self: I race, sprint and accelerate much faster in the drops. Duh.
A team mate who raced there last Wed says that tonight was much faster. I don't know how "slow" it could have been last week, but tonight we averaged 26 mph. We'll be doing in the 27s by mid June.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Time Trial Umbilical Cords

What ever became of those cords which the Italians started using around 1990, to attach their torsos to the stem of their bikes using a wire harness? I remember it being a controversial enhancement to performance in time trials. Banned I suppose. Was designed to give added leverage, but when you think about it, clip-on TT bars sort of do the same thing.. Instead of having one point of contact (hands only) the aero bars give you two (hands and forearms), hence the leverage. As one who has never used such TT bars, please forgive my ignorance. I am not a good time trialist, but that could change. Did the Bob Beal TT last year with no aero enhancements whatsoever, got a shit time of 7:12. This year I might use a set of clip-ons, wear a skinsuit and maybe borrow a rear disk. Maybe not. Getting a shit time is one thing, getting a shit time with all the aero toys, is another. 

Monday, May 07, 2007

A Hopeful Sign

I skipped the ride to work today because I overslept. After work I went out for an hour to test the legs on my favorite gradual climb up Seven Mile Road. I'm in the habit of timing myself on this 2.2 mile stretch. It's not hard at all, in fact it's a big ring hill, if you can even call it that. Just a beautiful scenic piece of road that rises about 240 feet in a little over two miles. Intending to do a recovery ride in the 130-140 bpm range, I took exception and pushed it a little on the "hill", timing it out at 7:13 to the top with an avg HR of 162 (See chart, inset lap 2). Previous personal best was 6:51 last August 26th (HR avg 172). Sure there was a tail wind, but all my best times are with a tail wind on this stretch. It seems that the past many days of rest and sleep have given me benefits. I took it easy for the rest of the ride of course. Loving this weather. Will ride to/from work tomorrow, maybe meet the church riders on the way home for some social riding. Had fun with them last week. Want to do Ninigret Wednesday. Will probably record the race with cam in forward position. That way I can at least reach the start/stop button.

Jiminy Peak

I see the usual suspects among the lists of results.. but one thing was really happy about was the outcome of the Elite road race at Jiminy Peak. Third place: Mike Mathis of the Preferred Care Racing Team, centered in Rochester NY. (A link to their team site is in the sidebar)
I don't know Mike, but he's clearly an up and comer, poised to grab himself a Cat 1 license before too long. What I'm stoked about is that Mike Mathis' coach is a long time friend from of mine from the late 80s. I've mentioned him before: Todd Scheske.
Have I mentioned that Todd has agreed to coach the never before coached Murat? It's true. So what am I so excited about? Well I'm happy for Mike Mathis' podium finish, even though I don't know him personally. I'm happy for Todd, who can take a lot of credit for putting him there. and I'm happy for me, because I hope to claim some top 3 results with Todd's help as well. It might take until the late summer or fall, or until Bob Beal or Topsfield or Jamestown.. but I think my chances have doubled compared to trying to go it alone, using my failed "train when and how you feel like it" program.
I took notice that FnF finished 22nd on Saturday, just behind my old friend Tom Officer. Tom and I are both in the millwork/store fixture business, and know eachother through a former mutual employer and through doing business together back when I was remodeling COACH stores across the country. Good times.     

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Resting as much as possible

Saturday: Slept in until 10:30. Took a 3 hour nap at 3:00. No ride. No heavy lifting. Nothing.
Sunday: Slept in until 9:30. Spent 4 hours working around the house, ripping out small tree stumps, grading and landscaping (arms, back and abs got a work-out) Topped it off with a one hour spin on the bike path, 131 bpm avg, no speed. Beautiful out, couldn't resist.
Should I ride to work at all this week? Is my employment one of the main culprits in wearing me out so early this season? Perhaps.. but there's little I can do to avoid that. It's only going to get worse in the summer months. I'm in the business of fitting up the interiors of high schools and colleges with woodwork, casework and laboratory fixtures. Most of the action is in the summer, when there's no class. I have my eye on trying Ninigret Wednesday.. Might have a Powertap installed by then. Time to retire the old Polar 710i? Shouldn't need it with a Powertap, eh?

Friday, May 04, 2007


I am really slogging through my last few rides. HR doesn't want to go up. When I force it, the whole body screams STOP! I can't help but feel like I was more fit, more fresh back in February. I did the Long Beach Circuit Race in CA back then.. Caught behind a crash and eliminated 1/2 way through.. but we averaged 27-1/2 mph for that first 1/2 hour I was in it, and I was not in any difficulty at all. Now it seems I can't get out of my own way in crits that are not nearly as fast.. The death spiral began at Rick Newhouse I think. Figures. DNFed twice that day. Didn't have it. Naturally, I train harder, longer, faster in frustration.. and DNF again at the GVCC Classic and at Palmer. Something's not right. Do I rest my way back into shape? Forget the bike completely for 1-2 weeks? Does such a rescue plan put me even farther behind the curve? Does it get worse before it gets better, like a home remodeling project? Ugh. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tuesday church ride

Anticipating rain on Wednesday, I decided to make tonight's ride into something enjoyable. So I suited up from work and made my way to the church in Cranston. It's about 10 miles to get there. By the time I arrived, there were already about a dozen riders milling around, chatting, getting ready. As I'm told, the Tuesday night ride is easier then the Thursday night ride. That's what I needed, sincerely.. But, there was one rider there who I'd seen at past Thursday rides.. one who was real cool to talk with and one who says he's never raced. Could have fooled me! because on the first hill (Rocky Hill- my first time down that road- liked it) he took off on his own and hammered to the top solo. I was looking forward to an easy ride, nothing intense, but on this very gradual climb I put it into a comfortable gear and spun my way up nice and steady. Someone was on my wheel, don't know who, but I wasn't interested in dropping anyone, just going at my own moderate pace. Felt good, unlike Thursday where I'm turning myself inside out to hold a wheel on the climbs. So we meet the non-racer at the top, me and my anonymous companion. The rest of the group catches up shortly after, all strung out. Later on, we're on route 102 headed toward route 12. Kind of rolling terrain.. me and the non-racer (note to self: ask people their names!) we start to wind it up and push eachother a little bit. This guy's srong as hell in my opinion. We traded pulls down Carpenter Road, leaving the group behind. Rather, I took "a" pull and he motored the rest of the way while I kept looking down at my cassette and checking for flats.. You know what I mean.. By the time we reached Hope Furnace, I was in cool down mode and he just kept cranking all the way to 116 on his own. I caught up, a moment later the rest of the group caught up, and I had to screw to get home before the future ex-wife started packing her bags.. (or mine?) Very fun ride. Great people. Looking forward to next Tuesday. I still feel like I'm ina rut physically. Felt more energetic today for sure, legs felt heavy and stiff, but it was a good day on the bike for a change. Ninigret tomorrow? Will it rain? Should I join the big boys again on Thursday and subject myself to another thrashing?
Today I discovered that our man Arik Jon Holm won the 35+ race at Palmer! That news pretty much made my day.

Palmer Library 35+ Road Race Video