America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

2008 Portsmouth Criterium Finish

Ward Solar, second from right, pumps his fist in the air as he wins the Portsmouth Criterium men's pro competition in Market Square on Sunday.
Cheryl Senter photo
Above is the conclusion of the 2008 Portsmouth Criterium. I want to draw your attention to the respective ages of the top 10 finishers: 33, 27, 21, 43, 19, 17, 27, 27, 26 and 23. The combined age of 3rd and 5th place is still less than that of 4th place finisher, Matt Kressy.

Here's a nice article about the race at Seacoast Online.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Seven Days to Re-center

I rode the bike home from work today, after a full seven days of much overdue rest. More accurately, I really needed to focus on matters at work without distraction. I hate to say it, but driving instead of riding, helped. It's a hassle to juggle cars (I keep a car at work at all times), juggle apparel for work and for riding, making sure not to forget car keys, phone, wallet etc. Today I grabbed the bike and all my stuff, drove to work, and at 6 O'clock, I rode home. Powered up both blinkies- I have a white one and a red one, but I must get myself a high beam headlight ASAP. I recall last winter that riding home in the dark was kind of fun, for whatever reason. Maybe because it reminds me of the times I used to roam the streets of Queens NY as a young teenager on my PK Ripper. Or because it reminds me of the times later on when my friend Derek Larson and I would go night riding on our road bikes- meet up at Pittsford Plaza when all the stores were closed, to practise sprints and leadouts under the lights of the parking lot. Couple of crazy juniors I suppose. Soon enough, it will be pitch black when I suit up to ride home from work, and it will be cold, and I need to have a good headlight. So riding home today, I'm startled by something. My Powertap is frozen- the elapsed time stopped ticking at 3:51. I stopped and fidgeted with the receiver, jiggled wires, snapped the cpu off and replaced it back on- nothing. Seems I just replaced the hub batteries not that long ago, so I'm worried that something might have shit the bed. Hopefully not.
Needless to say, with no Powertap reading telling me my watts as I ride, there was only one way to make sure and avoid doing inadvertent junk miles- and that was to ride home all-out in time trial mode of course. Serious.
I jest, but I must admit that riding home tonight without staring at the data was kind of nice. I think I'll put the Powertap wheel on the cross bike, and ride the Easton Tempest 2 rear wheel on my road bike for a while. The thing is practically brand new, and it looks pretty slick when the high contrast decals of both wheels are spinning. My Powertap wheel on the other hand, has about as much charm as a donut spare tire on a Crown Victoria.

GT: Catch and release ad steals my heart

Arguably one of the most humorous bike ad campaigns ever. Tell me this doesn't make you snicker: And yess.. it's mainly funny because it's a tri-dude who's caught. See the whole series of photos in the campaign here. That's a pretty hot road bike too. My LOOK 486 is looking a little bit dated to me lately.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Requirement of the Boy Scout Merit Badge for Cycling: Average 5 mph for 10 hours

This blog post has been incubating all day, beginning with the moment I lazily flipped open a tattered Boy Scout 'Handbook for Boys' from the 1930s and started to paw through it.. It was something I picked up a few years back, probably part of an auction lot that I won at an Antique Tool Auction. At the time, I didn't think much of it and threw it on the bookshelf. Today I discover that there is a Merit Badge for Cycling, and that the requirements for earning one were set forth 80 years ago, thusly:
How times have changed- check out the current requirements for the 2008 Cycling merit badge:
1. Show that you know first aid for injuries or illnesses that could occur while cycling, including hypothermia, heat reactions, frostbite, dehydration, insect stings, tick bites, snakebite, blisters, and hyperventilation.
2. Clean and adjust a bicycle. Prepare it for inspection using a bicycle safety checklist. Be sure the bicycle meets local laws.
3. Show your bicycle to your counselor for inspection. Point out the adjustments or repairs you have made. Do the following:
a. Show all points that need oiling regularly.
b. Show the points that should be checked regularly to make sure the bicycle is safe to ride.
c. Show how to adjust brakes, seat level and height, and steering tube.
4. Describe how to brake safely with foot brakes and with hand brakes.
5. Show how to repair a flat. Use an old bicycle tire.
6. Take a road test with your counselor and demonstrate the following:
-Proper mount, pedal, and brake including emergency stops.
-On an urban street with light traffic, properly execute a left turn from the center of the street; also demonstrate an alternate left turn technique used during periods of heavy traffic.
-Properly execute a right turn.
-Demonstrate appropriate actions at a right-turn-only lane when you are continuing straight.
-Show proper curbside and road-edge riding. Show how to ride safely along a row of parked cars.
-Cross railroad tracks properly.
7. Describe your state's traffic laws for bicycles. Compare them with motor-vehicle laws. Know the bicycle-safety guidelines.
8. Avoiding main highways, take two rides of 10 miles each, two rides of 15 miles each, and two rides of 25 miles each. You must make a report of the rides taken. List dates, routes traveled, and interesting things seen. The bicycle must have all required safety features. It must be registered as required by your local traffic laws.
9. After fulfilling requirement 8, lay out on a road map a 50-mile trip. Stay away from main highways. Using your map, make this ride in eight hours.


I've never been a boy scout or cub scout or eagle scout, but this book informs me of an institution which I feel completely deprived from. Do people still send their kids to be scouts? Is it safe? and I mean that in the "are the adults in charge trustworthy?" kind of 'safe'? I guess I'll think about it for our 5 year old son Reis.. While you think about the duration of a 50 mile bike ride being cut from ten to eight hours, please enjoy this assortment of high resolution advertisements which I scanned from the back of the 'Boy Scout Handbook for Boys'. I love old advertisements- they're the main reason why I own a 60 year collection of National Geographic magazines which I can't bear to part with. Click to enlarge:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Glory Days

Solobreak is not the only one with 80's nostalgia to share with you.. Back when I had what would be called 'natural ability', eight hours of training a week were enough to get up onto the podiums of some very stacked junior fields. The majority of my results are missing- I was not in the habit of asking for signatures on my license, not until I discovered how hard the 19+ guys were killing themselves to get upgrades.. Besides Ralph McCreadie knew my results and thought I deserved it. It should be pointed out that 'life requirements' prevented me from riding and racing in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, and 2004. The incontiguousness of my racing made it very hard to reach my current level of form. In the late 90s I was approaching 200 pounds..

Ninigret Finale

For those of you not in New England, this is Ninigret Park, where we race every Wednesday, all summer long. It's right off the water on the south coast of Rhode Island. Usually very windy, pancake flat, and very fast. I've crashed hard in turn No 2 (sharp left hander at the top).
Last night I almost didn't go, on account of many reasons.. but at the end of the day, I knew that the only thing that was going to recharge me mentally was to be among people who I respect and like being around while going 25-35 mph, so I went to Ninigret! I also needed some high intensity speed work, and doing that kind of work out on my own, has gotten quite difficult this time of year. There was little to no wind, and the the weather was just perfect, though I found myself to be the only one with a long sleeve jersey. There were non-stop attacks last night, most notably by Gary Aspnes- always off the front- he almost rode away solo for a win with one lap to go. Backing up, with two to go, four guys quickly opened a big gap. Right after the final left hand turn at the bottom, I hit it HARD and did my best to connect us to the four leaders. By the time we reached the right hand bend on the back stretch 1/2 lap later, I was spent and waved the field through for the final few meters separating us. Mission accomplished. At this point I just tacked myself onto the back of field and watched the sprint unfold from about 100 meters back. Don't know who took it, but it was a dark and dangerous sprint. Dusk was really upon us by this time. Looking at the data, I see that we shot up to 33 mph when I went after the leaders. I must have been pretty fresh if I could uncork something like that so near the end. Someone had a blow out with just 1/2 lap to go, I think it was Wild Bill Y. Sounded like a bottle rocket. Good times. Glad I was there. I'm already feeling the withdrawel symptoms of season's end.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Week That Sucked

I apologize for being such a tool, but I just do not have the happy-go-lucky attitude lately. There is stuff going on that is making me feel lousy. Nothing major- just lots of little things. Mostly inter-personal-family-related bullshit. I expect it to pass, but until then, I'm highly melancholy and prone to having a negative outlook. I hate the end of summer.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Weekend that Sucked

Not only was there no racing this weekend, no training either! My bike remains dismantled in the back seat of my Hyundai, just as I left it after Friday morning's commute to work. I feel some pangs of guilt, but I'll get over it. Just a few more races left before I either buy a mountain bike, or repair my cross bike, probably both. One thing is certain, I need to keep commuting by bike through the winter and I need to order some thermal apparel for our team and I must change out those ridiculous moustache handlebars on the Redline. You might notice that I have started a poll. It's for amusement purposes and you only get one vote. Please don't mistake my humility for a lack of self-respect- and please refrain from using this as an opportunity to deliver a kick to the crotch.. but hey I guess that's what makes it funny, for some. My son Reis and I watched this movie today for the nth time and the character "Tank" never fails to make me laugh:

Friday, September 12, 2008

Road Rage 101:

GREAT ARTICLE at Velonews. Thank you Bob Mionske. Here's the meat and potatoes excerpt:

...However, that desire to vent doesn’t necessarily lead to epic road rage. In fact, Dr. James identifies three different types of anti-social behavior that he classifies as road rage:

Passive-Aggressive road rage: “A passive form of resistance that is expressed by ignoring others or refusing to respond appropriately. The intent of passive-aggressive road rage is to be obstructionist and oppositional.” An example of passive-aggressive road rage would be the driver who steadfastly observes the speed limit in the “fast lane,” despite the speeding drivers immediately behind who are signaling their desire to go faster by tailgating and flashing their lights. In the road rage incidents we witnessed this summer, the Critical Mass riders who refused to let the Seattle driver named “Mark” reverse direction and leave were exhibiting the passive-aggressive form of road rage behavior
Verbal road rage: “The habit of constantly complaining about the traffic, keeping up a stream of mental or spoken attacks against all drivers, passengers, law enforcement officials, road workers, pedestrians, speed limits, and road signs. Undoubtedly the most common form of road rage, the purpose of verbal road rage is to denounce, ridicule, condemn, or castigate a rule, an engineer, or another driver.”
Epic road rage: “The habit of fantasizing comic-book roles and extreme punitive measures against another driver, such as chasing, beating up, ramming, dragging, shooting, and killing, sometimes to the point of acting on it.” What most of us think of when we hear the words “road rage,” and thus, what was publicized as road rage in the incidents this summer.

Related to these three types of road rage, Dr. James identifies several types of road rage personality-types:

• Automotive vigilante: “This automotive bully aggresses against other motorists, chosen at random or for some specific reason, with a constant stream of verbal abuse, offensive gestures, and threatening maneuvers with the vehicle, sometimes going to [the] extreme of physical violence. When engaged in a dispute or when confronted by the law, the vigilante motorist will typically deny responsibility and counterattack, feigning victimhood to evade accountability, often with success.” This is the type of road rage many, perhaps most, cyclists have experienced, well before Newsweek discovered “a new type of road rage.” And as we saw this summer, the epic road rage incidents in Brentwood and Kamas both began with the motorist berating the cyclists for being on the road.
• Rushing maniac: “This dysfunctional driving style has two complementary elements. One is an extraordinary need to avoid slowing down. The other is the consequent anger against anyone who causes a slowdown.”
• Aggressive competitor: “Some drivers are so competitive that they need to be in the lead at all times, and feel a sense of loss and rising anxiety if another car passes them.” Now imagine that the “other car” is a bicycle…
• Scofflaw: “A notable feature of the culture of cynicism on the highways is the tendency we have to automatically disregard certain traffic laws, regulations, and signs. We act as if we’re entitled to break regulations whenever we feel like it. Some drivers are compulsively rebellious—for them a stop sign means reduce speed slightly, yield means grab the opportunity when you can, slow means reduce speed only if cops are around, yellow means hurry up and try to make it through, do not pass s for the really weak-hearted, and of course, 35 MPH means 55. We assume we are above the law.” As we can see on any road, this type of road-rager comes in both two-wheel and four-wheel models, and each is the first to point out that the other is a scofflaw.

Post 501: Skidding to preserve life

Almost killed this morning! East on Route 12 (Park Ave) towards Route 2.. A silver VW Jetta turns in front of me very abruptly, into my lane same direction, from the left. Murat squeezes brakes, shifts right and gets pushed into the gutter. Then I suddenly find myself in between the curb, and the Jetta who now frantically needs to make a right turn. This is when I left a lot of Conti rubber on the road, probably about two meters worth. "Nice mooooove!" is what I manage to scold her with, but her windows are rolled up and I can't hear her mouthing off to me too well, but try to read her chicken lips. Something about having to get to work or something. A teenager in the passenger seat seemed embarrassed. Not to offend anyone (oh who am I kidding?) but why does the typical bike-hating near-miss, almost-killed-me driver turn out to be an unattractive middle aged woman of extra-ordinary heft and girth, who usually has a cigarette in her left hand and a cell phone or a DD Mega Big Great One in the other?
I often smirk to myself when I wave to drivers who are kind enough to yield (this is a good habit- waving and smiling are the two of the most important things we can do as cyclists on the roads, right after obeying the law) But why am I waving, really? Is it:
1. So that they know how much we appreciate that they thought enough of us to touch their brakes and wait an extra 3 seconds? They are more likely to repeat the courtesy for others, right?
2. Is it really a "Thank you for not killing me, thank you for letting me live" wave?
I just realized when I went to edit this post- it's No 501.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Trash day amnesia and other useless trivia

Every Thursday morning, just like every other day, I head out for my bike commute to work, and every Thursday morning, I find myself doubling back after about 1/4 mile because I forgot to take out the trash and recycling..again. Today was exceptional- not only did I forget to take out the trash and not only did I double back to take care of it (which requires me to take the short cut to work to avoid being late), I also forgot my car keys! Why do I need keys when I commute by bike? Well duh- I need to travel once I get to the office, to all of my many construction projects across New England, so my little red Hyundai is forever parked at work, waiting for me. Lately, I've been keeping my shoes in the trunk, so I had to walk around the office all morning wearing my old Birkenstocks, which as luck would have it, were under my desk.. No worries.. I took the opportunity to ride my bike home during lunch time, just to retrieve my keys.. though I didn't really need them and had no travel plans- just an excuse to ride (to get my keys and hence my shoes out of the car, that is). It feels weird to be riding at 12:30 on a weekday, really weird.. but I liked it. Once home, I horked down a couple of sandwiches and dear wife drove me to work, and I kept my uniform on, of course.. and put the bike in the trunk, of course.. because today I get to ride three times thanks to forgetting my keys.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Penultimate Ninigrit of 2008

I draw your attention to my cadence during tonight's Ninigret training crit: 100.
The field was quite full tonight. Should I drop names? Ah hell, why not. In no particular order, but ladies first: Lynn Samartano, Silke Wunderwald, Billy Mark, Bill Doonan, Mike Maloney, Mike Cavros, Mark McCormack, Rick Kotch, Bill Yabroudy, Jim Peters, Ted Shanstrom, Todd Buckley, Chris Dale, Larry King, Rick Desmarais, Adam Sullivan, at least 3 Keoughs, Jonathan Lowenstein, and about 40 others who I hope to name here in the future. It was a typical Ninigret field, but the wind was quite calm, which is rare. Lots of guys had arm warmers on, and towards the end when it was getting dark, I was glad for no wind, because it would have felt a lot cooler than 57 degrees. We averaged 26.5 mph and no one got away for long. In the field sprint, I was positioned rather poorly and got shut down as I tried to wind it up going into the final bend before the finish. I don't know where my head "was at" in the last 5 laps, but my mad dash to get to the front with one lap to go didn't quite happen. That, and I was feeling less than stellar- kind of like racing was a chore.. I burned a few matches as part of a few different breaks, and I didn't like the way it felt to be in a 28 mph rotation (per usual, I'm like a bloodhound when comes to detecting un-necessary work, and I sit up when I'm in a mix of guys who I know aren't well matched, or when the group is too small, or when I just plain know that the high octane field is going to catch us with just one acceleration), so I often felt tired and cranky and so I retreated to the back for a few laps, thinking I'll save it for the sprint. Pffffft. Apparently I didn't want it bad enough to deliver myself to the front in time, so it's no surprise that 15 or more guys smoked me at the finish. Serves me right. It's been a melancholy couple of days as it is, and the cancellation of the Bob Beal Stage Race was a buzz-kill too. (Lots of people were watching the weather reports, remembering how the 2007 road race stage was in the pouring rain- and MANY people had plans to register today at the last minute..) On the bright side, the data from tonight's crit is encouraging, and it seems to prove that I'm in much better form now than I was last September just before Bob Beal. So now what? The weekend is wide open and I'll probably go for some early morning LSD (long steady distance). I should also finish painting my house's 40 windows and shutters. I can finish it this weekend if I really put my mind to it. Only about 10 left..

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Never fails..

The rain outside our offices is Biblical in nature.. and there's always the comedian/co-worker who can't resist asking me, "So, you gonna ride home tonight!?"

Monday, September 08, 2008


I tried one of those out-of-the-saddle-one-full-minute-of-sprinting-intervals again today. This time, it was not preceded by a three mile time trial. Instead a good 30 minute warm-up at tempo pace. This is something I've been experimenting with lately and I plan to do it at least once a week. Being one who sticks primarily to crits (my last road race was Sturbridge) I think that the strength to get out of the saddle and sprint for a full minute (without sitting down) is going to pay dividends. Too many times I've been a contender in a crit with 1/2 lap left and I've been forced to sit and spin to the line with 50 meters to go. I want to be able to punch it early and keep accelerating the whole way, or at the least outlast all the others. I'm also prone to being the "when in doubt, lead it out" guy in a crit, so this kind of anaerobic endurance is going to make a difference I think. People tell me I have a good sprint. It's time to work on sharpening one of my few strengths.

Okay now I feel old..

The kid who lapped me at the 1989 Cyclocross National Championships in Milwaukee, has retired.

What!!! what!!! what!!!

Kyle's mom, upon hearing this news:

Lance Armstrong will come out of retirement next year to compete in five road races with the Astana team, according to sources familiar with the developing situation.
Armstrong, who turns 37 this month, will compete in the Amgen Tour of California, Paris-Nice, the Tour de Georgia, the Dauphine-Libere and the Tour de France — and will race for no salary or bonuses, the sources, who asked to remain anonymous, told VeloNews

Just what the sport needs? A Cinderella Man? I'm not surprised. You don't go from 1000 miles an hour to zero without some regrets or unfinished business. I hope to race into my sixties, personally. Who doesn't? Our sport is a fountain of youth. Our hearts are enlarged and they're super-strong. Big strong heart = long life.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Weekend Without Wells

For the early birds. Saturday was a rest day- no riding at all. Today I overslept and ended up blowing off Wells Ave. I could have made it if I snuck out of the house solo, but we had a birthday party right on Needham St at 3:00, meaning I would be making two round trips to Newton, not a good idea. As much as I love racing at Wells, the extra sleep was worth missing it. There's always Ninigret on Wednesday. At about 6:00 pm I went out and did a punishing hilly 80 minute ride. Wore my Polar HRM and the average HR of my CP60 (the first hour) was 164. Sounds kind of low to me? I'm wondering how much my form has evolved since my illness in Rochester- where the stomach bug kept me off the bike for 4 days. CTL is down to a very weak 75.. it was 105-110 back when I was averaging 200 miles a week for five months in a row.. These past 7 days- 134 miles and no racing. My numbers at Ninigret Wednesday should be a good indication of where I stand. I can also look back at the data for the two weeks before 2007's Bob Beal and compare it to my latest CP values. Holy crap Bob Beal is next weekend! The easier road course is going to be cool. Now to find a TT bike so I can improve on last year's time, which was a mediocre 6:56.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Nice kit Paolo

Very cool. I like white uniforms, except when it rains.. Velonews reports that Paolo Bettini yelled some expletives in Italian as he fisted the air here. What could he have said? I saw Bettini in person and in the circuit race at the 2007 Tour of California in Long Beach, where I did the Masters crit on the same course earlier in the day. The masters field averaged 27.5 mph, in February! A nasty crash split the field about 2/3 through the race and the ignorant officials pulled all the chasers without any consideration. The course was big enough that it would have been impossible to get lapped- but they pulled us just the same. Idiots.. made me use some Turkish expletives too..

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Narragansett Town Beach or Bust

It was de-ja-vu last night. Regulars here will remember I rode down to the beach after work last week, with a tailwind, really fast, met up with wife and brother and son and mother in law and ate clam cakes and went swimming blah blah blah. I did it again last night! This time: typical headwind! This time: 4 minutes slower! This time: a new CP60 of 254 watts! (last week was 248) This time: Waves were BIG and the water felt cooler going into it.
I know some of you snicker and roll your eyes at the data. I'm okay with that. Forgive me for sounding like Michael Ball, but at the end of the day.. the power data makes training and racing more fun.
When you train alone as much as I do, you need someone or something to half-wheel. For most it seems, it's other riders. For me, it's just the data I'm riding against.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Wells Ave Crit versus a hard solo ride

Last week I did a 25 mile ride from work down to Narragansett Town Beach. A few posts ago I reported an average wattage of 248, with a normalized wattage of 273, for said ride.
Isn't it interesting that at Wells Ave on Sunday, the average wattage for the 45 lap race was a measley 200, and normalized watts were 260? It's not that surprising, really. We look for ways to conserve during a race, and really pour it on when we go fast. Notice the normalized power values are not that different- 273 vs 260. Normalized power, in case you wondered, is the Peaks software's feature where it magically calculates what your average power would have been if you didnt't coast/draft/slow down and then accelerate so often- it's the measure of what you would have done for average watts if the effort was metered out at a constant value for the whole duration.


Oh no! More data! Not really.. I just wanted to share the number of watts I can do for 60 seconds, out of the saddle. Yes- a one minute sprint interval. The effort totally wastes you for the next 10 minutes. I'm thinking it does some good for my ability to start a sprint from 4-500 meters out and hold speed all the way to the line. My goal is to do the 60 seconds at 200% of FT, or 570 watts. Keep in mind, I'm 77-78 kg, so it's all relative. I've only done these a few times, when the mood strikes, which isn't often. Last night I had to ride straight home, so I made the best of it- intensity wise- I also did a three mile interval a little before the one minute sprint. A Bob Beal simulation of sorts. My time was pathetic, but compatible with the conditions. What's this about there being NO POINTS for the TT portion of the Bob Beal Stage Race?? Did I read that right on the MCRA site?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


I'd say that the Powertap 'flipped', but it does indeed show all 5ive digits. It was put into service on May 12, 2007.. the 10,000 miles does not include the days when I rode my cross bike, fixed gear, or the days when the batteries were dead in the 'puter and the hub. Now that I think about it, the Look 486 bike I've been using riding and racing since July 2006 has probably 15,000+ miles on it. I'd have to check the old fashioned 'Polar' files of yesteryear.. My saddle is beginning to show the kind of wear that only Solobreak is too cheap care about. Wells Ave Sunday was a success. We got our man in the break (Adam finished fourth on the heels of Bill Yabroudy, Skip Foley and Thom Norton), I took the first prime in a three lap solo move and Matt Kressy took the halfway prime, Mike Samartano lead out the field sprint and helped Matt win it commandingly.. Good times were had by all! I arrived there just as the combined field was lining up to start. Good thing I changed into my skinsuit, pre-wrote my check and pre-filled my release form, on the way there in the car.. Intuitive, eh? The adrenaline of a last minute start is sometimes more effective than a 1/2 hour warm-up, I think. Is it Friday yet?