America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

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

Sunday, June 29, 2008

2008 Keith Berger Criterium Results

Brought to you by Millwork One Racing and WeeBIKE.com:





The rest of the story..

Those of you who witnessed the heartbreak of Wild Bill Yabroudy getting caught with only a few laps to go in the Cox Crit yesterday.. He's so over it.. To wit, today he won BOTH the Keith Berger 40+ AND the 30+ which followed. I was in the 30+ break with him and I can tell you that he always took the strongest and longest pulls out of all of us. I can't say much for the draft benefit he offers though.. I'm a fat lard ass and he's 95 percent lean... Another class act was Patrick Ruane. Not only did he lap the masters field last week in New London, not only did he win at Cox yesterday and get 2nd in the 40+ today.. He turns to us in the chase/break with three to go and offers to lead out the sprint for us, because he had already gotten some cash for 2nd in the 40+. How do you not respect such a gesture? True to his word, he took the front for the entire final lap.. Patrick's a good man..
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Keith Berger Criterium 30+

Good news today!
I went right from the gun. Never saw the field again. Took the first prime. Got in the early break of 9 with 22 left to go. Whittled down to 5 of us with 15 to go. I got a little tired and had to let the other 4 roll away from me, but I kept my head down for about 6 laps solo. I couldn't risk blowing up so I kept it steady. Two chasers caught up to me (Patrick Ruane and another) and we drilled it nice and easy to the end. I had the final sprint for 5th in the bag but I pulled out of my right pedal with about 100m to go. Clipped back in and buried myself, threw the bike and took 2nd in the sprint, 6th overall, out of 41 finishers. Patrick was 7th by a hair (after leading it out for the last lap)
Finally a decent result! I'm happy. This feels good for a change. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

You never truly realize..

How losing a parent knocks you on your ass, how fucking heart breaking and isolating it feels, and how much you will miss those departed, until it happens to you. Nothing can prepare you for that hollow empty feeling of loss, the unpredictable and spontaneous fits of crying, the opposite of happiness that overcomes you in crushing waves..
Such loss also reveals things you could not see before.. Stuff you don't want to acknowledge, truths which you refuse to accept.
Ask yourself why you love to do "x" activity so much. The obvious answers eclipse the real answer..and when the real answer is no more, the obvious ones are suddenly not so compelling. Enough said?

The late irfan Altinbasak is on the far left.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

New Millwork One Team Member: Murat Akyazi

Our team is now 'International' in the true sense of the word. Meet Murat Akyazi- 33 year old Master, training and racing in Bursa, Turkey. While I was there this spring, I rode with many people. But in terms of being impressed with riding ability, character, kindness and class, Murat outshined everyone else. The M1 Racing kit he's using replaces the tattered one he'd been using for years. My sister will be flying over in a couple of weeks, and she's taking a special care package over there for me. Some good tires, tubes, arm warmers, rain jacket, etc etc.. If we're going to support a rider we may as well do it properly, or not at all! Take note of the absolutely pristine-condition Peugeot frameset. Welcome aboard, Murat!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ninigret Crit

Just returned from a kick-ass training race. No result to speak of but good power numbers attest to the fact that I did lots of work and got the most possible training benefit. In fact, I kind if sat up with 1/3 lap to go, having spent the previous two laps turning myself inside out chasing various breakaways. It was a good race. Our team had an impressive turn-out and everyone looked as solid as ever. Whoever let our Lynn borrow a helmet- many thanks! With eight guys up the road in the break, I didn't feel like sprinting for 9th place- not a good idea. Brendan H offered to lead it out for me but I passed, even though my chances of taking that field sprint were excellent. It's alright. Save it for the weekend I guess. It's gonna be a hell of a knife fight in Providence on Saturday! Yes Turkey lost 3-2 to Germany in the UEFA Euro 2008 Semi Finals. Kind of heartbreaking, but anyone who has followed the games will tell you that the Turkish team is the one which made these finals exciting. It was an excellent match, and Turks should be proud to have reached the final four out of 50 or so teams. So it goes. I went to harrass Gewilli today at his place of employment [I had carpenters working there today], but he was MIA at 9:00 am. Bankers hours at that place! - he has got it made, let me tell you. Hehe.

EURO 2008 Semi Final

Turkey vs Germany
Will be a tough game for Turkey!
Starts at 2:30. I'll be home watching.
Then to Ninigret afterwards..
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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wompatuck tonight?

Well I WAS going to make it up there tonight, but this heavy rain and thunder has changed my mind for me. That, and I still haven't been able to leave for my Boston jobsite.. If I leave now.. I'm there at 4:00, take some measurements for an hour or so, then it's a mad dash in rush hour traffic to get to exit 14 off Route 3.. Plus it will probably be pouring. I think I'll do Boston tomorrow instead, ride the wind trainer tonight. Ninigret tomorrow.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hindsight

No this isn't about regret or shame or shoulda, coulda, woulda.. I just want to say that this weekend's racing was a pure adrenaline-seratonin-dopamine RUSH, and that I wouldn't want to spend a weekend any other way, given the choice. The shoulder to shoulder cornering at 30 mph, the spectacular crashes all around me which I avoided, the breathtaking leg breaking rotations of the breaks that I was part of.. All of it adds up to one Exceptional Weekend, regardless of the final results. Eight very high octane crits in the past 8 days (including Ninigret).. To make it through all of that without a crash or injury- something to be extremely thankful about.
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Whaling City Cyclone Crit

35+ race had about 30 starters, 19 finishers. Someone lapped the field solo. Lap card said 2 to go but it suddenly ENDED with one to go. No bell was rung. I'm really pissed off about this because I came across the line 12th expecting to move up over the course of the next 6 corners. It would have been an easy 2nd or 3rd place for me. What a waste. and what a GREAT crit course. DO NOT miss this event next year!
30+ race had ten starters. They announce that we're racing for nothing but primes. Not even a results list would be posted. I went as hard as I could from the gun and four laps later I was done. Felt like an idiot racing against 9 guys, legs were thrashed as it is, plus a 40 mile Pro-Am race was to follow.
The Pro-Am race was suddenly swollen with tons of "day of" people, including Jeremy Powers, Robbie King, both McCormacks, etc etc. I had great position for about 6 laps, but then the legs were thinking: 60 more laps, 6 corners each, that's 360 more accelerations. Go home before you pull something, hurt yourself, crash, cramp up, or develop an overuse injury. I basically knew I didn't have it in me to finish. So I watched the rest of the race, as Gavin Mannion and Robbie King lapped the field, Mark M and his chase group almost lapped the field (Mark was 5th finisher).
Six crits in two days is a lot of TSS for a 37 year old..
I will re-think my Attleboro/New Britain weekend, where my pre-reg is similar..
On deck for this next weekend: four crits. I think I'll be okay for them, but I may skip one of the Cox Crits to favor the legs at Keith Berger on Sunday. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Nutmeg Crit

35+: 30th of 110+ starters (81 finishers) Just couldn't get up there.
30+: DNF- quit with 5 to go after 20 minutes in 7 man break- unable to breath due toe cramps that were centered on my back/kidneys
Pro-3: Finished 56th of the 111 man field (90 +/- finishers) minor cramping in the final laps.
Tomorrow: Three crits at the Whaling City Cyclone. Please, no rain!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Don't laugh..


I still remember the day I received this plastic bike. I think it's my 5th birthday or something, we live in Woodside, Queens, where my father is super of an apartment building, AND a full time cabinet maker for a shop that's across the street from Shea Stadium.. This bike was stolen from me in Kew Gardens (we had moved) in broad daylight, by a couple of ten year olds who decided they wanted it. Good times.

Nine-grit

Field was a little bit more powerful last night, with certain people present who I need not name. They have a tendency to make everyone around them go faster. Last night was no exception, because the speed was almost one click higher then last week. I missed the initial break, which seemed to break up into pieces on the last few laps. Notably, at least three of the six successful escapees were ArcenCiel racers. An impressive show of strength. Rick K and Gary A cranked their hearts out in those last 4-5 laps to shut these guys down, but fell short by only a handful of seconds. I did my part earlier in the race and let myself slip to the ass end of the field for the last 8 or so laps- kind of day dreaming, complete loss of concentration for a while.. I think.. Then I heard the bell lap and moved up swiftly, taking 3rd in the field sprint, 9th overall. Get it?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Harlem Skyscraper Classic: Crash!

Look at how Yours Truly threads the needle and avoids needless epidermal trauma.. This is a little beyond the corner, which was populated with a small body of water on the inside.. There was an an abundance of painted stripes which followed the exact line a bike racer would take through the corners! The heavy rain 15 minutes prior to our start meant that the course was wet/dry/wet/dry all over the place. Tires went from wet to dry ten time in the course of one lap.. Mind you, this is one of many crashes. Every lap saw at least one or two go down. In fact, we were shut down due to an ambulance and had to restart. We were given only 9 laps to go, so we raced for a whopping 12 miles all together. I played it safe, took no stupid chances, even though the legs felt super and this field was far from being stacked. Full results are HERE

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Harlem Crit Race Report and Results

70 starters on a narrow bumpy soaking wet course.. 37 finishers.
Murat is a lucky 18th. How I made it through that carnage without laying it down- a miracle. Murat loses his nerve when people are kissing the asphalt all around him. That I let myself get swarmed with 1/2 lap to go sucks balls, but I have all my skin so I live to race another day.
In the Cat 3 race which followed- (see below) 79 starters and 73 finishers- the road dried out nicely. More later.

Friday, June 13, 2008

19 mile climb: Uludag, Bursa, Turkey


My brother Ali followed me up the climb in our little rental car, and tried to shoot some footage. Not sure how this looks- uploaded it through Blogger.
The chart below shows the climb.. Notice the three little drops in HR. I had to stop once to put on a vest, then stop again to pee and drink a Coke, then again to put on a jacket- it was cold.

Here's me at the top. Relieved. The street is lined with dormant hotels.

A little farther up the road we find the ski lodge and the ski lifts.
My brother Ali, driving our little Turkish built Renault Symbol. Crappy hotels which cater to skiers, beyond.

From the very peak we spy this spectacular structure, presumably a five star ski resort.. but looking more like a majestic castle.. or the place where The Shining was filmed..

Here's the top of the Old Mudanya Road with new team mate Murat Akyazi (left) and old team mate center named Irfan. He and I raced together as juniors in 1989. He's a little bit heavier now, but still loving the bike regardless.
At the KoroPark Mall in Bursa. We can afford to buy nothing at this place. Nothing but some food. This place has both a Dunkin Donuts and a Starbucks.
A view from the Airbus en route to Frankfurt

Curry Chicken. The flight to Boston wasn't so bad.. I swiped the eating utensils and the blanket as payback for charging me 90 Euros for an extra suitcase. It has mostly my dad's personal stuff in it Lufth-douche-bags!


The view from my uncle's summer house balcony in Burgaz. Maybe if I can get a training camp organized for next spring, we can use his place as a base. Should sleep 6 comfortably.

The view from about 1200 feet, near Gundogdu, looking down upon the coastal town of Kursunlu. The climb out of Kursunlu rises 400 feet in the first 1/2 mile.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Harlem or bust

I hear that Wells Ave is cancelled this weekend. That leaves me no choice but to throw my hat into the ring down in the Skyscraper Harlem Classic. 3-1/2 hour drive for a 40 minute crit? Yeah, why not? A stop at Copolla's Pizza in College Point will make it all worth it. Besides, my good friend and coach Todd Scheske has pre-registered in the Pro-Am Invitational, which features Fast Freddie and Tyler Hamilton (the only unattached guy on the list)! To be honest, watching the Pros race will be enough of a blast I think. I would probably drive down and back on Sunday. Who wants to go? This is serious. I have a Honda Odyssey that fits four ten speeds and four ten speed racers.

Nini-great!

Having not raced since Blue Hills or Wells back in early May, I was anxious to test the legs after the 500+ miles logged on Turkey's beautiful and challenging roads. Mindful that my body clock was still set to 1:00 am at the start of the crit, I was thinking that it would be quite hard for me to race. So for reasons I myself don't even understand, during the B race I got on the course and set the cruise control to 260 watts for 20 solid minutes- about 15 watts shy of FTP.. Let's call it a very solid warm-up. I was feeling good, but still doubting myself because of jetlag, stress, lack of sleep, etc..
By the way, many thanks to everyone who reached out to me today and offered their condolences for my father's passing. The sincerity that comes through from such great people makes it so much easier to re-connect whatever it is has snapped inside of me. Many thanks. It was surprising to me how many people knew about it, but then again I forget that I pretty much chronicled everything here, so word spreads quickly from my handful of readers.. Thanks for that too.
So the usual suspects manage to un-attach themselves from the field in no time. I'd name them but you probably already know the boys I'm talking about- they keep such a close eye on eachother that the successful break includes them all, while less gifted and less ambitious riders don't pay such close attention to what's happening. The winning break started out with what looked like 10-12 guys.
About halfway through the race, I find myself going pressing the pace at the front, trading pulls with Gary A, John L and others. Without realizing it at first, we suddenly have a six man break, way clear of the very large field. We rotated pretty solidly for the next few laps, and it was hard enough for me that with 14 to go, 10 to go and 7 to go, I was having some doubts about having the desire to suffer enough to make it to the end. The pace wasn't killer so I tightened my chin strap and muted out those voices of doubt. By the time we had about 5 to go, we had picked off about 4 or 5 of the original break, so up the road there were only five guys left [who eventually lapped the field]. Our chase group had of course swelled to about ten guys by this time. The field was 1/2 lap back on us, meaning that the winning break was 1/2 lap up on us. We worked hard enough that we were probably only about 1/2 mph off the winning pace.
Final couple of laps, our chase group had a few surges which really went no where, but helped to shed some bodies in the final laps. Two to go there was another hard acceleration, just after my pull, and I had to really dig to stay in contact. It was so close in fact, that I had to force Gary A to close a small gap on the back stretch. It wasn't intentional, and I apologized, but it cost him a match I think. Winding it up for the "field sprint" for sixth, I found myself fifth wheel coming out of the corner. Gary was leading it out hard with John L and his NBX team mate on his wheel. There was someone else thrown in there I can't remember who, but I remember having to touch the break to avoid a fall with about 300m to go. Once I saw my opening on the left it was full gas to the line. My gear selection was in doubt at first, then I realized it was perfect because it let me accelerate the entire way and pass all four ahead of me with about 1/2 wheel or more to spare. So put me down for 6th! It's not a win, it's not a podium, and I didn't even go for one prime, but it feels pretty damn good all the same. This proves that feeling tired or slow or under-rested is all relative [to the rest of the field]. We don't know what speed or result we're capable of unless we press ourselves to the limits.
Coasting after the sprint, I'm completely wasted and can barely catch my breath. Not even pedaling for 1/2 lap. My watch says 7:30 but in my mind I know that it's really 2:30 AM. The decision to race yesterday wasn't a no-brainer. I had to really commit- though I can't pinpoint the exact moment that I said "I'll do it".. The night before I went out with friends until 2:00 am. I awoke at 5:30 to be at the office at 6:30. Drove up to Boston for an 8:30 meeting which took three hours. From there I went to two jobsites in the Beacon Street area, on my feet for about five hours, trudging up to the ninth floor of one building and to the fourth floor in another.. Just wearing myself down more and more. Slightly hung over. Headed to Providence at 3:00.. drove in heavy traffic for 90 minutes.. stopped at the office to drop off a co-worker, went home to grab bike and stuff.. and then found myself pounding out a 20 minute FTP interval as a warm-up at Ninigret. What is WRONG with me? I look forward to seeing what a well-rested Murat is capable of. I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but I've worked pretty hard to get into form this year, and hopefully this is a sign of it beginning to bear fruit. Wish me luck. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

No Service up here

7:50 pm: I feel like Forest gump must have felt when he suddenly decided to stop running. Now what?..
8:15 pm: Looks like dinner is being served. People belly ache about airline food. I like it. Each meal is a challenge: to try and finish everything without wasting any of it- hard to do. There's always something on the tray which sucks.. Why don't they ever serve soup on airplanes? Just curious. More than six hours until we land. For me, it will be the same as 2:30 am. By the time I drive home and get to bed it will be 4:30 my time.. (9:30 Eastern) I'm expected at work tomorrow. Chicken Curry has arrived.
8:44 pm: there's so much to look forward to.. After these six hours are through that is.. After making my inflight meal disappear I felt a wave of happiness poured down on my head- only for a few seconds.. The feeling lingers.. But it might be from the wine I'm sipping. Took a picture of my Lufthansa food for you (I'll add it here later) This Airbus is not full so people have picked their own seats. The guy who was originally next to me has relocated. I have the window and aisle seat to myself. Alone. Soon, my sister will join my wife, son, mother and brother in Turkey. I will truly be by myself in terms of immediate family all being 8000 miles away.. And with Father gone it's going to feel extra weird. I'm a person who loves to be independent, to answer to no one, a solitary Lone Ranger/Assassin type.. But this next few weeks might be tough. Then again, it might be an opportunity to really focus on work and on racing with a minimum of distraction. I'd better make the very best of it.
11:26 pm: I'm going into and out of light sleep while my mp3 player blasts my brains out. Current selection: Green Day's Jesus of Suburbia. Just before that Papa Roach. Foo Fighters' Best of You follows. Three hours left. More wine? More sleep? This journey takes forever when you're by yourself.
12:28 am: just returned from a walk to the back of the plane to do some stretching and a visit to the lav. I did 20 miles of climbing Saturday, in the rain. It didn't really hit me until yesterday, but it feels like I've really hurt my lower back- like there's a knife in there being twisted against bone. Of course it didn't help that I did another tough climbing ride Sunday with the locals. Smaller group this time, but a more interesting route. We climbed up to Gundogdu, plunged down into Kursunlu and followed the coast to Guzelyali/Burgaz. Past my uncle's summer house and onto the four mile climb up Old Mudanya Road. Then a nice flat ride into the city and home. My friends Zafer and Murat were both Kings of the long climbs- I summited third on both of them, solo. But on the rollers on the coast, they weren't as fast as me. The fatigue from the previous day's mountain climb and the lower back pain really made it impossible to match pace with these guys on the big hills. I don't mind. On the run-in to the city of Bursa I put the hammer down and had it wound up to 35 mph on the flats. Only one could follow me and pull through: Murat. So he's good on the climbs and on the flats.. He's the latest addition to Millwork One Racing. I gave him a kit and our little team has just become international! Two Murats are better than one. One caveat (which I happen to love) is that Murat is a spitting image of Steve Buscemi. Good man.. I look forward to mailing him some more team schwag when I get home.
2:08 am: about 1/2 hour until we land at Logan. I am craving sushi enough that I may stop at Haruki on the way home, if it isn't too late. Will I be too tired to race at Ninigret on Wednesday? What am I pre-registered for this weekend? I don't even remember. The plane is finally beginning to descend from 40,000 feet. The coloe scheme of this airline seems to remind me of something.. Like the gold and silver uniforms of a certain New England racing team.. Now to decide whether these Lufthansa blankets are nice enough that I want to swipe one.. Might come in handy for using as a race day kilt.
All the above was during yesterday's flight to Boston. I'm now back at work.. And so tired.
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Sunday, June 08, 2008

15-1/2 hours..

Until my flight to Frankfurt.
The past two weeks seem like a bad dream. I still can't believe my Father is gone. I haven't had any emotional breakdowns since the funeral- the day that I more or less cried all day. I leave for home tomorrow by myself while dear wife and son stay behind for five extra weeks. I'm pre-registered for 16 criteriums in four weekends, so I have my work cut out for me.. Not to mention all the unsolvable knots I need to untangle when I return to work- two weeks away from a construction position is an eternity.
It's gonna be an interesting summer.. But.. I feel lost, as though my North Star has been extinguished.
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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Be Home Soon

It's a shame that I was too naïve to realize until now that "Most people are Dicks", applies no matter what country you're in. Our car is extra filthy, in spite of the rains which have fallen recently. You can buy a cup of boiled corn-off-the-cob at the mall for 6 YTL.. What does that cost them? Ten cents? Armani t-shirts for $219.. Lacoste polo shirts for $239.. Crappy Chinese made Nine West stuff for about 10x what we pay in the US.. A walk through Turkey's malls is an exercise in gratitude for the cheap prices we pay for premium stuff at our outlet centers, TJ Maxx and Marshalls.. My wife's DKNY t-shirt which she paid $15 for: found at the mall here for 120 YTL (about 100$) who can afford this stuff? And even so, who is retarded enough to pay this much? Show me who and I will show you an insecure and hollow shell of a person who deserves to be slapped hard.
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Long climb up Uludag

Distance to top: 20 miles
Vertical Rise: 5400 feet
Duration to top: 2:09
Rained almost the whole way up!
Only a 5 percent average grade, but after 10 miles of climbing, 5 percent starts to feel like 10.. I recorded the elevation profile with the Polar. Brother followed me up in the car. We have pictures which I'll post next week.
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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Steep Climbing

Went out at 8 am this morning.. No real plan except to go for 3-4 hours and include some 30 second intervals at CP6 with 30 sec spin recoveries.. The wind took me in the direction of Mudanya, which makes no sense because the wind was blowing hard off the water.. Went up the 3 mile climb of "Old Mudanya Road", with views that never fail to make my jaw drop. The descent into Mudanya sucks balls- the road is rough as hell- making it impossible to gain any speed. Need full suspension for that. Where the old road meets the main highway, we go straight and head into Guzelyali/Burgaz.. Which takes me past my Uncle Orhan's house as the road winds it's way along the coast towards the town of Kursunlu. As luck would have it, my uncle's wife was out on the front porch. She's 70 and didn't recognize me until I took my Rudys off and said "It's me, Murat". They heard the news of my father's passing from my aunt in Istanbul.. Anyway.. Uncle Orhan and his wife had arrived a couple of days ago from Germany. They worked their entire lives in the upholstery division of the Opel factory in the Frankfurt/Koln area. He's the oldest of seven siblings- my dad being the middle child. He's 73 and very healthy. He's also self published two books of poetry. She's 70 and had four daughters with my uncle- Canan, Seyda, Lelya and Semra. The youngest of these cousins being 39 years old. All are in Germany. All have divorced at least once. Uncle had gone out to buy supplies- the summer house was ina state of being unpacked from the winter.. A water view from the balcony that makes me quite jealous.. They bought that condo 38 years ago- I love that place. The water used to lap the base of the building, but that was before thwe entire beach was infilled and cement poured to create a giant ferryboat landing.. The view is still excellent though. After a hot cup of Nescafe and some small talk about my dad and uncle's sibling rivalry, I excused myself and continued along the coastal road towards Kursunlu. Not only steep and winding, rising 150 feet then plunging back down to sea level every so often.. But with a view to die for. Once into the coastal town of Kursunlu, I asked how to get to the village of Gundogdu, which is where I climbed from the other direction last week. A sharp right hander and I'm on a brick paved road rising before me like a wall.. Unlike the four mile climb we did that day, this time the pitch was a lot steeper, reaching the same peak in only three miles, and starting from sea level. The first 1/2 mile was the hardest- it rose 400 feet. The next 1/2 mile was less brutal, but the end of the first mile marked about 600 feet. Three mile point at the top was 1200 feet total rise, but this included a few short dips downward which had to be re-ascended. Toughest big climb around! I can't say enough about the view at the top. You just have to see it to believe it. Makes all the pain worth it. After the four mile descent and after I got on the flats leading into the city, I did my 30 second CP6 intervals.. Most of them anyway. Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Pay 10 times more in Turkey

We just saw a hard side Samsonite suitcase in a classy mall store- same as we bought at TJ Maxx for $80..
Price in Turkey: 795 YTL (about $700)
I told the sales girl and she rambled on about how this one was the lightest in the world blah blah.. Whoever buys that thing for 795 YTL should be skinned alove for their idiocy.
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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Training Day

Going to skip forward a few days and just tell you about my club ride this morning with 30 other Bursa cyclists. Only about 7 or 8 road bikes and the rest were all mountain bikes. We took a main highway- six lanes wide- broad shoulder- completely open to the wind- you can see for miles and miles in all directions- long 2-3 mile big ring climbs that rise gently enough, but which grind you to dust and have you wanting so badlly to drop it into the little ring and ride like a weenie. This road hurts. We were on this highway for quite a while, strung out at times in groups of 2 and 3 and 4.. Per my resolution of a few days earlier, I had my game face on and pounded everyone into submission on every climb, stringing them out single file until 300m before the top, and then accelerating over the peak, solo. The fire in the belly was burning brightly today.. This motley group of bikers was populated with three strong juniors, elite mountain bike racers, road masters who used to race, road masters who still race, a guy who can ride a wheelie for miles, people I raced with as a junior back in 1989, a couple of 50 somethings and even a 60 something. My LOOK 486 attracted lots of attention, as did my rear hub and Powertap.. A couple of the guys looked really - how should I say - poor. Riding really tattered and poor fitting clothing and riding hand me down federation bikes with 7 speeds and down tube shifters. One of these guys was strong as a bull..
So we rode to the end of the highway and after regrouping we went onto a country road for about 5 miles- into a little village where we raided a tea garden and took over the place. Someone bought a huge warm loaf of country bread and two kilos of soft country feta cheese. Everyone ordered hot Turkish tea. Bikes sprawled out everywhere. Good food, good company, good weather.. It all adds up to a very memorable and enjoyable ride. On the way back I hit a pothole large enough to swallow a small child. I swear I hit it so hard that I saw the fork flex enough for the tire to hit the frame.. Both bottles went flying. One of the cages is kaput. Changed the flat in 5-6 minutes and we headed back out of the country village and back onto the highway. I stopped to pee and everyone got a 2 minute gap on me. They had said they would take it easy and wait for me, but judging from the fragments of the group which I began to catch up to, they were working hard to make it harder for me. A few grabbed my wheel along the way, so by the time I caught onto the tail of the roadies who were pressing the pace, I had a tail of 4-5 guys with me. Feeling good, I rode up to the front and uncorked a hot 2 minutes to the top of the hill. Only three others could follow, but none could pull through. We were doing 34 mph on the flats between the hills. Up the final climb, I pulled for the first half way up, let the others pull through, and then hit it hard again over the top. Only one could follow, but I rode him off my wheel in the last 100m of the climb. I'm not beating my chest over being faster on the road than a bunch of mountain bikers. I just had a good time that's all. This ride was great for my morale. Overall we did 60 miles in about 3:10, but this doesn't include about 20 minutes between flatting and peeing. Thanks for reading.


Almost turned to scrambled eggs when my front tire blew!
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