America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

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

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Crappy Weather = Rest Day

I'm glad I did my 3-1/2 hours yesterday- it's wet and miserable today. Despite Sunday rides offered to me by my teammates and others, I decided to take rest and get some extra sleep. I'll add the Polar chart later on. So I left the house at 7:00 am Sat to make it to Sophies on Route 2 at 8:00. I was right on time, give or take 2 minutes. Nobody was around.. I had pretty much lost all hope right then and there. Took off my glove unzipped the jacket and retrived the Crackberry so I could e-mail J-Lo "where r u?" Hoping of course that he carried one also. Before I could even hit SEND, a train of yellow-orange-red came streaming out from behind Sophies, where I did not bother to look. They all turned right onto route 2, seemingly oblivious to me as I stood there- unzipped, ungloved and unprepared to jump onto the train. No worries- I sorted myself out and chased up to them before we hit route 138. It's always a lot of fun to meet up with the Arc crew. What sucks is that it's a one hour ride to get to Sophies, and I generally try to stay close to the house when it's very cold, so I always feel a little vulnerable and paranoid when I'm so deep into Southern RI. To wit, after riding with them for an hour Saturday, I was already into my 3rd hour and it took almost 90 minutes to get home after that- all on Route 3 north which, as I'll show you later, isn't at all flat.
Time to break out the rollers and wind trainer- looks like the weather is going to suck for a while.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I was right

It took 90 minutes before I felt comfortable- toes got quite chilly, but 51 miles and 3:08 later, I was home, feeling good, feeling thankful, and very hungry. I'll post a Polar chart of the ride later on, if the mood strikes. Avg HR was 155. My race form is clearly kaput- I'm re-building base fitness. Nine days off the bike when I had the flu the other week, really hurt what little form I had left.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Day- Ride yourself to caloric deficiency..

..then add it on two-fold at dinner..
Thursday morning at 8:00 am: Holy Apostles Church at the corner of Route 12 and Pippin Orchard Road (same place where everyone meets Tuesday and Thursday nights, see below) We'll depart from the church at 8:00 and most likely head north towards 116 and take a left turn onto Peeptoad and end up criss-crossing back towards western Coventry. Chances are, I'll be doing this ride all by myself. Prove me wrong! 8:00 am Thursday Holy Apostles Church! See below.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Chris Hoy: Man vs Machine

I don't know why this reached my INBOX at work.. Click to enlarge.
See for ticket details.

What a mistake

To think that I could ride an hour each way, to hook up with a 3 hour ride in that cold was very poor judgment on my part. Not only was I off the bike for 9 days prior, I just emerged from a week of having a very bad cold, it was 20 degrees when I left the house, and I went to meet up with a group of guys who like to trounce the hills of Rhode Island once a week. It's bad enough that I don't climb well and that I'm out of form- it's also 20 degrees out. Add to this I'm 20 minutes early to the meeting point- thanks to mis-judging the distance and a tailwind. I did laps up and down the street to keep warm. Then the toe warmers I got for such a great deal at Marshalls- they suck. So by the time we roll off at 9:00 or whatever I'm an icicle. In weather like this, I usually stay close to home, so in case I get too cold I can bail and be home in 20-30 minutes, tops. To break this golden rule of sub-freezing winter riding- very dumb of me. The time off the bike was no help- my left knee started to hurt before I even got to Venda Ravioli. Then I panicked and tried to nurse it a little bit, making the right knee share in the hurt. Then our little group of five started hitting some gradual climbs and the right knee went berserk. Near the top of the first longish climb- one which I'm completely unfamiliar with- I can't push on the right knee any more and I let a gap open. Took my head right out of it at that point, and being near a local road which I knew would take me home in about an hour (route 116), I pulled a u-turn and spun home. Today my knee hurts just to walk. I'm feeling my age.. Needless to say, this ride was incompatible with me on so many levels, when Gewilli turned to me and said "why?".. the easiest answer was to just say "cold". When I got home about an hour later, it was still only 28 degrees out. 2-1/2 hours was enough. Had I stayed with those guys (Nathan, Aaron, Mark and Gewilli) my knees would be completely trashed and I would have ended up doing 4+ hours. Enough stupidity prevailed that I had to draw the line somewhere. On the bright side, making promises to ride with others is a good way to force your ass outside into the freezing cold, where you might otherwise say -uck it and just sleep in. From that standpoint- no regrets. I'll try again in a few weeks when the knee re-adapts to harder stresses.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The G-Diddy

Not only did I co-populate his office with a pre-announced visit coinciding with some work that his employer has hired me to do for them, I also got wrestled to the floor and my camera forcibly removed from my clenched fist when I threatened to shoot a pic of the slovenly mess he calls his desk. Err, I made up that last part, about the wrestling. So.. yeah not only did I get to see his monotone looking Giant cross-bike-turned-commuter with squishy Schwalbe tires weighing a kilo each occupying 1/2 of the floor space in the room, I also promised to do an epic three hour hilly ride with him on Sunday. I hope I live to tell about it, and not hear about how those tires slowed him down.. Hills in November, go figure. Like me, G-Diddy has hacked off the lion's-mane-which-can't-be-tamed, which is pictured here. I'm gonna get an earful for this one, but this pic isn't marked 'private' or anything in his Flickr account, so why not.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Know Your Rivals... says the coolest road racing website I've found, at least since discovering that USA Cycling used a ranking system which ranked me higher than I deserve credit for.. (hey it works for golfers, why not for us?) One clear weakness of USA Cycling which know your rival excels at, is giving you a compilation of results for an entire team. I love it! Especially because you can filter those results by category, by team member, by placing (how many times did your team get 4th place?) or by race (road race, crit, tt). Very cool to play with the data.. Below is a compilation of all of my team's criterium results in 30+ Masters events:Now for the very interesting data. Know your rival will also give you a report of who you are most commonly shouldering, hooking, elbowing, cursing, and trying to pass when there's 100 meters to go.. Here's my list of rivals:
There are still some things which need to evolve a little more- our team's website isn't listed for example, and neither is our parent club, GVCC. My 18th place result at the Blue Hills Classic is missing too- but that's most likely because I registered 'day-of' and this almost always guarantees that someone will mis-spell my name, my team or my license number (that's an inadvertant plug for Bikereg- your personal and team data is always consistent and spelled right- meaning no missing results) I expect that the blanks will slowly be filled in over time- it depends on the owner of the site having the continued resolve of a Buddhist monk. I hope it continues because it's informative and entertaining to tool around with. It's going to be interesting to see the condensed results of particular teams, those other than my own that is. Give it a try. Look up any team's results, then filter it to narrow it down to age, category, wins, or even particuar events.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

1989 Albany Tulip Festival Criterium

By popular demand of one reader: Your hero from 20 years ago- the Torpado SLX in action. Yeah that's me racing the thing, being tailed by a very well oiled Aaron Newland and his team of teenage dudes with matching kits, matching bikes, matching helmets and even "clipless pedals".. Notice I'm still using my Alfredo Binda straps and my Mavic GEL280s with Clemente Super Criterium Silk tubies on there.. IIRC, George Hincapie won this junior race without breaking a sweat. I sprinted to 4th place (have a pic of that somewhere). Distinctly remember having to lie down after that race from cramps and how all my insides started spasming, I tried so damn hard. I still have the prize money envelope somewhere, probably the race number too. I remember being astonished about getting $60 for 4th place and loving it. Back then, I didn't have a skinsuit, so I'd tuck my GVCC jersey into my shorts and discreetly safety pin them together in a few places. Voila- the poor man's skinsuit is born.
Found it: Murat sprints for 4th, but it feels like a win. Mr. red/yellow threw his bike too early. Click to enlarge.

Monday, November 17, 2008

If you're wristwatch is the accessory which says the most about you..

..Then mine must say that I hate myself. I'll post a picture of it tonight. Although, to be fair, I used to use a SEIKO, which is the company which came up with the above tripe in the first place.
To be continued.

Now that I think of it, the heading shows you my previous watch- a Seiko Automatic which I got on Ebay for $50. The reason I don't wear it now is because I broke the strap in a fit of rage- I was at Dunkin Donuts on route 138, on my way to the Ninigret Crit, running late of course. Everyone behind the counter was serving the -ucking drive thru customers and us schmucks in side the store were being ignored. I said something profane and flung the door open to get out, using my wristwatch as leverage. The strap broke. It's still good- needs one of those spring loaded pins. My wife bought me this travesty of a timepiece when I jokingly told her I always wanted a calculator watch. So you see, my watch says that I love my wife.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Who wants to do a Spring Training Camp!?

in TURKEY!! Serious. I'm setting it up.

Update. This is not a joke. Flights from Boston are about $1000, but I expect there to be promotions in the spring. I am looking to have base at either the seaside town of Mudanya, which is close to tons of spectacular roads that I'm very familiar with, or at an all inclusive resort in Antalya, which will cost more and be quite luxurious. We've been to a few and never been less than astonished at the quality of the food and the amenities. I don't know the roads as well, but Antalya has the added benefit of being warmer in April (think Florida), and having more local attractions like rafting and mountain bike tours. The bottom line is that I am definitley going, same as last year, and probably for two weeks straight. One week in Mudanya/Bursa and one week in Antalya. I came back from Turkey last year in very solid form. Think about it. This idea will develop more if people show me some interest. Otherwise, I suppose I'm on my own, which is fine and dandy. I'd rather share the experience though!

Feeling crap-tastic!

Energy levels are way down. I'd pop a vitamin if they didn't give me such heartburn. Did anyone watch the CNN Special last night on the Jonestown mass suicide? 300+ little kids had cyanide squirted down their throats from a syringe, by their -ucking parents. I'd always heard snippets here and there about this trajedy, but last night I got a two hour dose of it, including tape recordings and video footage from 30 years ago. What a sad story. Kool-Aid will never taste the same again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Even MORE Boring Commute Stuff

Well it finally caught up to me- the nasty cold that both wife and son have been fighting for about a week has infected me on a low level, making my breathing a little scratchy. I was bragging to my wife the other day about how my superior fitness, adaptation to the cold weather and my bike commuting was supposedly protecting me in some way from getting sick the same way that they were. I still think that if I was a sedentary person, I would have been a lot sicker, a lot sooner. Right now I'm just feeling some nuisance symptoms, most notably sore leg muscles and overall tiredness. I rode in to work this morning taking the shortcut (which turns out to be 7.5 miles, not 9) It was warmer this morning than yesterday, but it felt 10 degrees colder. I don't plan to ride home tonight or ride at all tomorrow, especially if the weather predictors are accurate and it rains. It's time to take it easy, rebuild, recover, rest. I've been riding pretty consistently for a few weeks- twice a day usually, not with any great intensity, but with enough volume and variation that I've made myself tired, wound up the spring a little bit. Race this weekend? Not in the rain, so Saturday's out, and not sick, so Sunday's a remote possibility. I recently showed y'all a vid and pics of my serene bike path commute with ankle high foliage concealing the actual road. Yesterday morning it was still there. On my commute home last night, it was all completely cleaned up- like freshly shorn legs. That is, until I reached the West Warwick town line. The suckiness envelopes you the instant you enter West Warwick. I don't know why I live there sometimes..

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Map My Ride: More Boring Commute Crap

This is how I roll to work.. except when I'm late, then I take the shortcut, which is pretty easy to imagine.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rides a Ten Speed Everywhere Guy

This was on TBS last night and I managed to hit the record button on my DVR in time to get the whole episode. This is a cheesy recording of my LCD tv screen, but I lack the proper equipment and this will have to suffice. It's still funny. There's more to hear than there is to see anyway.

Rides a Ten Speed Everywhere Guy from Murat Altinbasak on Vimeo.

it's a great way to stay in shape..

Cranston Bike Path from Murat Altinbasak on Vimeo.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Normal Weekend

No need for filling up the gas tank. No driving for hours. No getting up at the crack of dawn. No money spent on registration. No dead last start position. No dead last finishing result. No getting lapped, tasting puke, hoisting/carrying of bicycle, falling down, broken bike or ruined apparel. None of that..
While many of you were still driving to some 'venue' in order to do a zone 5 mass start time trial in the mud, I was out at 8:15 am doing what bike racers do when there's no racing that's worth racing- I trained for 2 hours 10 minutes out on the beautiful, dry and sunny roads of western RI. I covered the first 2/3 of my typical three hour route, then my better judgment reminded me that I haven't done any riding of more than one hour in many many weeks, so I ended it at about 40 miles and got home at 10:25. I took a nice hot shower while many of you chumps were still suiting up, or driving to, or paying for.. the mass hysteria known as psychocross.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

2008 Harlem Rocks Criterium Redux

I know that I've already delivered a race report on the Harlem Rocks Criterium, but I realized that my sister was there with me shooting pictures of the Pro event and caught the wicked crash in the final sprint- the one where the kid who won, lost control and had a spectacular fall. My sister caught it with the rapid fire setting of her camera. See below. As for me, I look back upon this race and regret being such a weenie in the final lap. With one to go, I was first across the line, but I remind my readers that it rained buckets just moments before our start, and 30 guys DNFed with crashes- it was a bloodbath. I was pumped and primed for this race, feeling great the entire time, but when guys started dive bombing the wet corners with one to go, I did not fight for my position and ended up finishing anonymously at 18th. There's always 2009- I'll be back there. For now, I leave you with Eric Barlevav:

Chipotle is lip-smacking good

I go out of my way sometimes, to do business with companies which support cycling and bike racing. It's no challenge at all when it comes to Chipotle. If you have not tried one of their overstuffed burritos with the hot green chile sauce, you are missing out. If you've seen the Chipotle kits with the burrito 'in the jersey pocket'- it's misleading. Those burritos have a girth that is equal to their length. You would NOT EVER put one of these gut busters in any pocket. There's a Chipotle on Route 2 in Warwick, right across from Panera and the new Trader Joe's, which I haven't checked out yet.

45 and counting

I started out only able to do 20, now as of yesterday I can do 45 push ups. Tomorrow I'll try for 50, on my way to 100 push-ups, like I used to do without stopping, long ago. Now for a wet fender-bike ride to work! Joy.
::pause while I ride in to work::
Okay I made it in one piece- they say drizzle, but it feels like rain when you're riding as fast as I am. Two things: it feels like the cranks or pedals on my Redline are bent. I don't know if maybe they're straight and my other two bikes are bent. Maybe there's an alignment tool that can check this out. Anyway, the other thing I noticed is that the freewheel on the Redline is a pretty big gear. I took the 9 mile shortcut this morning, and it includes a punchy little climb. I usually grind up the thing seated, because my messenger bag swings all over the place if I stand. Today I skipped the mess bag, and so I was able to climb standing. There is no way I'd make it up that hill seated without injuring a tendon or something.
So yeah I'm in the office all day today. Yesterday was a death march through Boston. I had to go to three jobsites: One at the Harvard Art Museaum, then to another Harvard project on Oxford Street, and finally my crown jewel 11 floor luxury project on Beacon Street. The company I work for is no secret, though I'll refrain from naming them here. Let it be known that we did all of the woodwork in T_m Br_dy's three floor condo right up the street from my project on Beacon. If you wonder what such woodwork is worth in dollars, think about the median value of a home in Mass and triple it- just for woodwork. I got to see it inside, and gawk at his trophies and at the Audi R8 in his garage. Anyway, I've said too much.. and now I must kill you.
I returned to the office from Boston about 6:00 and yeah- I rode home by bike when it would have been oh-so-much-easier to drive myself straight home. That's what a hard nosed bad ass I am. Skipping a ride is like skipping a dose of Prozac.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

1989 UB Classic Criterium

Rewind 20 years to 1988, the year I was 4th at the UB Classic. (3rd place was my good friend Todd Scheske) In 1989 (pictured) I was 3rd- (2nd in the field sprint). In 1990 as a first year cat 2, I was 7th in the 2/3 race, which would end up being the last time I ever raced at UB. Known to be a blood bath.. I'm glad I never kissed the pavement on that twisty course. and looking back, I see that all three times I raced there I finished in the money, and my decent and consistent results there most likely it didn't hurt my chances of being upgraded to Cat 2 while still a junior.
Fast forward 10-11 years and add about 40 pounds (I am about 190 in this picture) This was something I wanted to try for a long time, so around the year 2000, dear wife and I were in Turkey, and I said -uck it, no time like the present. We were at a salon for hours while she and her mom got the royal treatment. I became so bored that I jumped into a chair and said "let's do this thing".. Here, we're at a waterfront restaurant which has a view of one of the bridges connecting Europe and Asia.

Bridges, Tunnels and Carbon

Doesn't it make you all happy inside to see what my AM commute looks like? The infamous West Warwick/Cranston Bike Path- pretty scenic these days and usually deserted in the mornings. The tunnel which is pictured is very dark in the middle (during the day) - such that yours truly crashed violently back in 2003 after striking 6" x 6" x 5 foot long piece of pressure treated lumber (positioned there intentionally by some -uckers) Letters written to the state did get results- they fixed the lighting inside of the tunnel, which now only lights up at night. I guess they missed the part about me crashing in there after sunrise one morning. I guess we take what we can get.
I voted on my lunch break.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Is your glass half full or half empty?

..or maybe the glass is just twice as large as it needs to be.. Whatever.. Here's some visual stimulation which I hope will make your Monday morning a little more bearable. I never considered myself to be vertically challenged until I saw this photo of solobreak, me and ilbruce.
No I did not buy this saddle from Solobreak, but I think it's just as gnarly as the one which he was too cheap to replace when he should have.. I pretended to be sick and stayed home from school on the day that I expected this saddle to arrive from Performance Bike, along with some other stuff that I ordered. It ended up arriving the following day, meaning I had to fake my illness for two days in a row. I bet I'm not the only bike crazy 16 year old to have done this..
The one that started it all- a relic from my glory days as a junior. This Torpado SLX was abandoned upon the advent of SIS index shifting- I keep this bike as a reminder. Of what.. I'm not sure. I laced up that Ambrosio Montreal rear wheel myself when I was 16. Holy crap that was 21 years ago.
My second hand entry level Fuji Cross Pro- a sucky bike compared to the thoroughbreds which lapped me on Saturday, but even with the chain which I swapped onto it from my road bike 1/2 hour before the race, it did not let me down, did not miss a shift or blow out a side wall.
My trusty Redline 9-2-5 commuter recently had a makeover, as you can see from the junk on the floor. Hey maybe I can use those things to do push-ups or something.. I bought this bike on impulse because it had the flip flop rear wheel. A heavy steel fixed gear bike with fenders, bullet proof wheels and tires? Sold! Soon I'll be doing three hour weekend rides on it. Who wants to come with me?
Above, you bask in the reflected glory of my French stallion- the LOOK 486. Sixteen pounds of carbon fiber fury. I replaced the lost chain tool with a trip to REI today, so the new chain was applied and no swear words were used. Needless to say, I couldn't do it without completely degreasing the cranks, chainrings, frame, cassette and wheels. A new chain deserves a clean drivetrain. So.. what's temporarily missing from this bike? I must admit, with it's original Easton wheel installed and all the Powertap stuff and lights and blinkys removed from it, this bike is a very light mofo. Speaking of Powertap- I tightened up the rear hub- no more lateral play. I also discovered that the transmission wire had a break in it, explaining why the PT head is not working.
This is the bike upon which I was hit by a car back in 2006. It's a little big for me, but it I've repaired it since the car crash, so except for the rear tire being flat, it's in perfect condition, making it a fine back-up bike in case something should ever happen to the Look 486.
I haven't shown my face here in a while.. so here's a pic of me after the final Ninigret crit this summer, with a bad case of helmet head. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Northhampton Cross

Elite 35+ had 82 starters, 67 finishers. Your hero started from the very back of the field, passed some folks down on the fields, but lost most positions gained by the time lap one was completed. Got lapped by the leaders during my 5th lap, and then passed by 20 more guys just before completing my 6th lap in about 43:30. I did very consistent lap times of 7:05 to 7:15 each. I guess if I had done all 7 laps my finishing time would have been right around 51 minutes, or about 6 minutes down on your other hero, Solobreak (55th), who started right beside me at the very back... When results come out- make no mistake- I was not dead last! That distinction does not belong to Murat. Great weather today. Plus I didn't crash. Bonus! Lapped by only 1/4 of the field. Woo-hoo! Not DFL. Totally awesome! Super intense workout. Yes today rocks! I'll be imbibing spirits at il Brucie's house tonight with Nega-Coach and maybe Gewilli.. Who can ask for more?? Somebody pinch me.