America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

No 587: Last post of 2008

It appears that I'll be heading out of work early today. Need to make it to Providence bike to pick up some items before they close for the holiday/snow. I'll probably head straight home after that..
Bisikletci Murat wishes you and your family a safe and happy New Year.

2008 Season Recap

Sunday, December 28, 2008


The data for today's ride, compared next to the 3 hour ride I did two weeks ago:

1% of 8000

Your Hero did 1% of 2008's total mileage today, in a duration of 4:35. I'm a little worn out of course, but I'm very happy about my knees. Usually, at about the 2:15 to 2:30 point, the knees begin to protest, and by the 3rd hour, they're doing more of an LA riot than a protest. I can attribute today's pain free ride to a few things. See if you'll agree:
1. On Friday I did a one hour Level 1 YOGA session at the Y (awesome- I loved it and I'm going back for more.. Nega Coach will be proud- always preaching the importance of stretching)
2. The yoga was followed by two completions of the Nautilus circuit (Very light weights, 20 reps, focused on establishing settings and proper form) a light soreness today is accompanied by the positive sense of progress in the "structural fitness" department.
3. It's warm today! (56 right now) My worst knee pain occurs primarily on the very cold rides- when it's under 30 degrees.
4. Lately I noticed that my seat's a touch too low, primarily from observing my reflection in the window when I'm on the windtrainer. I hoisted it up about 4-5 mm and it feels so much better.
One other revelation of today's 80 mile ride- very cool that I did not cramp up even once during the ride.. But after I got home and leaned over to remove my booties, THEN I felt a nasty and breath-taking pinch in my hamstring. Data galore and possibly some other trivialities coming up later. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

What if..

..every bike race team in New England were to contribute one gently used kit into a collection which is sent overseas and given to a less fortunate person to use? My team has already sent four full sets of Millwork One uniforms to Turkey this past season, two of which are being used by a racer who we fully support. Recently, I also sent five complete Union Velo Racing uniforms which were given to a few of the local upstart racers in Bursa Turkey. I think it's pretty cool that the roads and trails of Bursa, Turkey are populated with Millwork One and Union Velo uniforms.
If this idea turns your crank, please show interest with a comment, or write to me privately at If a large number of New England teams participate, I'd like to start a new blog which covers this topic more appropriately. The idea is for every New England team to add one or more international riders to their team roster. Bike racing is extremely cost prohibitive for most poeple in Turkey. This idea will make our sport more accessible to more people. Think about it.
FYI, the next care package departs for Turkey on Jan 2nd (it's a Specialized Tarmac Expert complete bike), There will be plenty of dead air space inside of the bike box. Can we fill it up?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Britain Criterium 2008 Redux

A new friend I made at the race this summer sent me these pictures from the 30+ race. I attacked with one lap to go and then fell apart completely with 1/2 lap to go, finishing nearly dead last. Whatever.. Cool pictures.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Adaptation: one leg intervals

Nothing does as good job of proving adaptation to stress, than a power meter. To wit, a week ago I did a set of one leg intervals. They were pitiful- 119 watts average, per leg. (Call this my untrained benchmark) Four days later, I was able to do two sets, same gear (39x19), separated by a 5 minute recovery (1 minute between each leg) Average watts were high 130s in the 1st set, low 130s for the 2nd set. Speeds and distance also way up compared to the workout. My next session of one leg intervals will be in the 39x17, and go 2 full minutes. The data of the 1st 90 seconds will be fun to watch. These intervals will increase in duration by 30 seconds every couple of weeks, until I reach 3:00 minutes. They are indeed evil as Brendan correctly pointed out. Those last 10 seconds really turn you inside out. Another interesting observation: leg is stronger than the right.

It's not too late.. buy a Likeabike Jumper in any of six colors and have it delivered to you in time for Christmas, as long as your location is within a 60 mile radius of Providence RI, or you are willing to make a trip to our location to pick it up. Go to, there's a link in the sidebar where you can choose a color and make a secure payment via Paypal. If the recent blizzard has made it difficult to get out and find the perfect gift for the 2-5 year old in your life, please consider a LikeaBike Jumper. All colors are in stock locally in RI. Let's face it, if you're reading this, you probably spent more money on your road shoes, or pedals, or carbon handlebars than you will for this, the most top-shelf toddler bike on the market- the LikeaBike Jumper. All aluminum, rear suspension, Schwalbe tires, made in Germany. What's not to love?
This video is excellent!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

On second thought..

I didn't expect the snow to continue into Sunday. Wishful thinking. It's not that cold out right now, but a family walk to the local Cumberland Farms to buy some Twinkies (for our son) was challenging enough- never mind trying to do it on a bike. Snow shoveling for the past two days has been quite an excellent set of workouts. Last night I did an hour on the trainer and two sets of 90 second one-leg intervals. It's rather interesting with the Powertap, seeing which leg is stronger and by how many rpms and how many watts. I'll show you later, if the mood strikes. Tonight I'm aiming for a 90 minute trainer session with a few Zone 4 efforts of 2-5 minutes each. Legs are freshly shorn. What a difference it makes- all mental of course. It's in line with the "looking good is feeling good" mantra. Looking strong is feeling strong, imho. Besides I plan to do some spin classes at the Y and I don't want to be mistaken for a newbie.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter Wonderland Ride on Sunday?

Are you interested and crazy enough for a three hour ride on slick wet icy roads this Sunday? Does your bike have full fenders? If yes and yes, reach out to me and we'll meet someplace on the roads of RI. Sunday. I promise it won't suck.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oral surgery

In the pain cave with sutures in my gums after a root evac
This sucks

One leg intervals

Do you want to discover which of your muscles have been "dead wood" all season long? Perform a set of one leg intervals on your trainer. Start out at 60 seconds/leg in the 39x19. This is harder than people realize. Add 30 seconds a week and as many gear inches as you can hold 90 rpm with. Later on, add sets (separated by 5 min recovery) You will find your abdominals and other core muscles becoming involved in the last 15 seconds of the effort.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Better to burn out than to fade away

I am saddled with a severe case of burn out at work. It's been a tough year for me.. A couple of very high end multi million $$ projects on Beacon Street for very wealthy and demanding people combined with very difficult architects and designers, has really taken it's toll. Being a punching bag for general contractors is not a satisfying occupation. I spent two weeks overseas "on vacation" this past May, tending to my father. Not exactly a vacation. That event took more out of me than I can even comprehend.. My coach was astonished that I had any good form at all this year, after what happened (losing my dad) The rest of my vacation time wasn't used for laying on a sandy beach or anything either. I went swimming all of twice, all year- at Narragansett Town Beach no less..
Long story short, I plan to take the day after Christmas off and the day after New Year's Day off. That means that after this weekend, it's 3 days work, 4 days rest, 3 days work, 4 days rest. Niiii-ice. But in order for this to happen without having a meltdown at work, I'm putting in a lot of extra time both last week and this week. Probably 70+ hours. It's little wonder that my heart rate's elevated..
How many hours/miles of base fitness can I add to the hopper for 2009? As it stands now, I will easily pass 8000 total miles for 2008 with just a few more three hour rides.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Glad that's over!

and glad I didn't wimp out. Did more climbing than I planned (2740 feet), missed my ride mates by a few minutes down at Route 3/102 (that was a buzz-kill), so I did my ride alone. This means that for 3+ hours I never had the benefit of a wheel to follow or a body to draft. Charts later... These are the rides which we will be comparing to similar rides of 12 months ago. Should be interesting to see where I stand.

Time: 6:49 am, Temp: 20 degrees, Wind: calm

I'm fighting a very strong temptation to go back to bed and bask in the warmth of the flannel sheets and down comforter which are still populated by my other two family members.
I don't completely understand what compels me to suit up and grind out three hours of endurance training, but it might have something to do with hating myself if I don't do it. I'm no longer coached, so the only person I'm accountable to these days, is myself. Obsessive-compulsive behavior? or a well disciplined work ethic? I don't know which.

Friday, December 12, 2008

One race report left for 2008

It's going to be colder than I like, up in Wrentham. I have a blown side wall from NBX, I'll have to throw an old tire on there. Need a tube too.. Some extra sleep tomorrow morning would be good.
Racing or not, I need to be there in order to retrieve something from Matt.
I'm not pre-registered, and I haven't downgraded. That limits me to the Masters 123 and the Killer Bees, again. I should have downgraded. Maybe I'll get down-graded on the spot by an official. One of these days someone is going to point out that I am constantly lapped and that I pose a risk to the ones who are lapping me. An anonymous mid-field finish would have been possible in the 3/4 field.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Paris-Tours: A nail biting finish

Somehow I accidentally managed to set my DVR so that it records every bike race on the VERSUS channel. It was delightful to discover that it had recorded Paris Tours. So I propped by bike and trainer in front of our 32" LCD and did a nice brisk 60 minutes of indoor training. The coverage was two hours, so I had to FF through the commercials and I watched the ending after I was done training. So very awesome that Philip Gilbert's team mate held that pace for the last 2k, holding off a charging field by only seconds and helping PG take the sprint. Tyler Farrar won the field sprint for 5th, right on their heels. Pretty amazing- I did not know this. Anyway, 60 minutes of zone 2/3 training (190 watts average) were happily completed and dying of boredom was avoided, thanks to Versus and my DVR. That is all. I'm off to one of my projects at Harvard.
In other news, Murat is mysteriously down to 170 pounds this morning. Hmmmm.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pectoral muscles do not propel you forward on a bike

I love saying that, if not for it's raw truthfulness, for it's tendency to make certain peoples' skin crawl. I can now do 50 consecutive push ups. The last five are tough- they take a second or two longer than all the others, but I do them.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

NBX Cross Day 2: Master 1/2/3 Race Report

When I opened my eyes this morning and looked out the window, going to Goddard Park seemed very improbable. It took some digging- some soul searching- some quiet comtemplation- and finally just saying the words "Let's go" to myself, before I sprung into action. Family debated a little bit about going with me, but I persuaded them to "htfu" and get ready to leave (in my kind and loving way). When we left the house and our minivan employed it's traction control system just to get moving (we had 1" of snow) I knew it was going to be an interesting day of racing. We got to the park in good time- right at 9:30. I mounted my Fuji and remembered that the front wheel was still flat. I smartly grabbed the 3 pound front wheel off my commuter bike before leaving, just so I could ride to registration, and probably steal it's inner tube. Said commuter wheel with Kenda tire did exceptionally well on the slippery ride to the carousel- using it in the race even crossed my mind, no pun intended. So after saying hi to Bill Y, J-Lo, Jim P and Chris D along the way, I make it to the carousel in time to register for the 35+ 1/2/3. Problem is, I don't ask how much to pay and I ignorantly write my check for $35 just like yesterday. Wrong. It's $40 and I don't have another check nor do I have any cash. I leave my license and go outside to do some panhandling. Christopher Dale whips out a fin for me without hesitating and I'm on my way. (Thanks again Chris) Number 164 is mine. I then make my way over to the pit to inquire about a front wheel (or a tube). Adam Sullivan offers me one of his wheels to use, but I'm not a lucky person- it could be a taco when I return it- you never know (thanks for offering though Adam) So my pit friend is more willing to sell me an inner tube than loan me a front wheel- don't blame him one bit- except I have no cash. Dear wife has it. So I promise to return to pay the $4 later on. Fine and dandy. From here, I go back over the bridge, back to the car and make myself ready to race. No trainer time though- I go straight out onto the course, and not a moment too soon. After chatting with team mate Lynn Samartano (16th in the women's 3/4 race) I realize that the race is being staged and I take the b-line straight to the start. Within moments, we're on. I can't deny that I expected to have an easier time today than I did yesterday. The legs were opened up, the course was technical with lots of slick hairpins and bottlenecks. If I could find the strength to sprint out of every corner- like in a crit- I might have done ok.. and this positive thinking worked! For my first 3 laps, I was not dead last, even though I started there. I was passing people. I had about 5-6 stragglers behind me. I'm going into the corners aggressively, powersliding the front wheel (that feels so cool when it happens and you recover from it, avoiding certain collision with the ground) I'm sprinting out of the saddle and getting some good speed. The worst parts were the sand pits and run-ups. This is where my weakness was always evident. I had to go deep into 180 bpm every time I had to run, plus my lower back felt like it was being kicked with steel toe boots. Then on my fourth lap I started to lose steam, heading down into the 2nd sand run (which was a LOT longer today) funny noise from the rear wheel- and pedaling seems a lot harder- sounded exactly like a spoke had popped and the wheel was rubbing. I get down to the sand, thinking nothing of it- how bad can it be. I hump the bike to the top and try to ride but the wheel is jammed. I dismount to the left of the bike, look at things, see nothing. I try to loosen the brake cable, but this isn't working. I start riding again, in earnest. The wheel is rubbing badly. I make it around a couple of switchbacks and the tire blows ka-boom. Turns out the tire bead failed and the tube was out of the rim (afterwards I see that the tire is shredded from the explosion) I try to keep riding, but the turns are too numerous and too icy to be riding on the rim.. I start to run. The pit is about 300 meters away. Once through all the turns, it's a straight shot for a while, so I start riding again, carefully. It's faster than running. I ride over some roots and almost lose it, but I make it to the pit without crashing. A rear wheel is quickly applied by my pit friend and I'm off. Everyone passed me by this time of course, and I lost a big chunk of time fiddling with the bike and running. From here, the finish is just about 150 meters. Lap card says 2 to go. I'm just beginning my 5th lap. I make it down to the 1st sand pit, make the run up, and then I see what I was dreading- the leaders down on the asphalt, kicking the crap out of eachother- flying. Needless to say, somewhere around the time I jumped the wooden barriers I was lapped by the first few leaders, and then by a few more, and by the time I completed my 5th lap, Paul Curley was the last to go by me and I watched him beat someone to the line as I followed them across the finish. My time for 5 laps- 51:15. Three minutes prior, Mark M won the race and completed his 6th lap. I'll often wonder whether yesterday's or today's flats caused me to be lapped. Let's just say it didn't help, and neither did starting at the very back of the field, as I always do. The accordian effect of the first run-up no doubt strings the whole field out pretty good, and being the first 20 guys through there is a clear advantage. There's no denying that I suck at running- I'm biomechanically inept at it, plus my Fuji is an overweight piece of shit, but I'm using the equipment which is compatible with my ability, I suppose. Maybe in fall 2009 things will be different. I admit that this cross thing has won me over a little bit- and the most compelling evidence I can give you is that I dug-deep and finished both races this weekend in spite of flatting and in spite of running all over creation to reach the pit and in spite of the knowledge that I would be dead last and lapped. That says something.
FULL RESULTS are UP at USA Cycling. Thanks for reading.
Here's the ubiquitous data file showing my heart rate and such:

NBX Cross at Goddard Park Day 2 Masters 1/2/3

This time I raced with the masters at 10:30. I wrote my check in the wrong amount when I registered, and thanks to my friend Chris Dale's deep pockets and generosity, I was able to pay the deficiency and settle up and get my license back. The pit crew helped me with a front wheel yesterday, they sold me a tube today, and they also gave me a rear wheel when I had my shotgun blow out in today's race. More on that later, but many many thanks for all of the help in the pit! Thanks to them, I did lots of running these past two days and I'd have two DNFs to my name were it not for them. This was an excellent weekend of racing- organizers, sponsors, volunteers, pit- everyone and everything was a class act- a model for others to follow. If I could complain about one thing- why not?- parking is too damn far from registration. TTYL.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

NBX Cross at Goddard Park Day 1 Masters 1/2/3 Pictures

The way it usually goes for 'ol Murat, the race begins when he opens his eyes in the morning. Indulging in some extra sleep is a weakness which even Solobreak can't help me with and were it not for his call at 7:00 am, I would probably have slept until 9:00 and not 8:00. First order of business- dump the hamper on the laundry room floor and wash my cold weather apparel until the stink is gone. Check. Out the door at 9:22, planning to get there at 9:35-ish, one hour to get all sorted out and warmed up. Wrong! There's no gas in the minivan- it's running on fumes.. and I discover that I've forgotten to bring water. No worries- a quick stop at Sunoco and I get a quick $10 of gas and buy H2O. I'm down 8 more minutes.. So I get on my way- south on Route 2, Murat is snagged by every single red light there is. No amount of cursing gives me relief. I get to the park and pull over onto the right hand side thinking I can quickly make my way to registration. Nothing doing. I'm chased out of there and told I need to park in the field like everyone else. Down another 5 minutes. Here's the part that really turns my crank- what I did not expect is that it would take 10 minutes to ride from the car to registration. Didn't plan for that, no sir. I get to the table at 10:02 or :03. Registration for the Masters 1/2/3 is closed. I keep my cool. Who wants to get ready to race in only 25 minutes (15 if you count the ride back to the car). So your hero ends up registering for the 2/3 race (killer bees? first time I ever heard that one) In the first 30 minutes of waiting for my 12:30 race, I made myself useful and took over 200 pictures of the racers in the race which I was not permitted to enter. Warning- I use a 3 megapixel Kodak that I bought at Target 4+ years ago, out of the box, no instructions, and it's held together with a rubber band which I renew every few months because well, it breaks on me and lets the batteries fall out. I'm not a photographer. If you find any photos which are worthy of printing, you're a lucky bastard. In the spirit of giving you these mediocre photos, Murat put $25 toward a Pro Flickr account, so in case you find some picture in there which don't suck, there's a button in the sidebar where you can donate a buck or two. Humor me.
Here's the pictures at my Flickr account Enjoy.

Drumroll please..

My eagerness to dish up photos caused me to forgot to tell you the story of my race. This was my first 2/3 cross race ever. I was a trooper, I started at the very back per usual.. and after a few laps, instead of the usual "ride at my own pace all by myself" bullshit, I hooked up with 3-4 guys and stayed glued to them! This required me to push deep into the pain cave occasionally, primarily after the run-ups, where I am absolutely horrible. At any rate, just before completing lap 4- I did a power slide into the last left hand corner with my front wheel- a miracle that I didn't dump it hard. The two guys on my wheel had to squeeze the brakes. After going through the finish, my front tire turned to mush- and in no time, it was down on the rim. So approaching the first and more difficult sand pit, I'm done, or so I thought. We're not lapped at this point.. Hopes were dashed. I told my drop-mates about the flat and the immediate reply was "Lucky bastard". Hehe. So I shoulder the bike and run it all the way around the course to the pits. Watching me run is like watching a horror show, but I make it. A very quick neutral wheel change follows my clumsy prancing over the barriers and I'm off. Unfortunately, I lost some big time here and got myself lapped by the leaders a little beyond that muddy off camber corner. (2 to go changes to 1 to go, of course) By the time I reached the 2nd sand pit, a few more guys went past. From there I just held my meager speed and finished my 5th lap in exactly 45 minutes flat. I used the Polar HRM, and the data says that I reached 189 bpm on 3 or 4 occasions, and that I averaged 175 bpm for the 45 minutes. To wit: I should admit here that this was the most fun I've had in a cross race, and I'm wondering if maybe it was because I was in the 2/3 field and not the Masters 1/2/3 field. It seemed to me that these younger riders were more interested in having fun than in beating each other's brains out. End result- 64th place out of 67 finishers and 73 starters. Thanks for reading.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Canada's tolerance for obesity

Read about how obesity is rewarded in Canada while others are charged 90 Euros to bring back an extra suitcase of what remains of their dead father's belongings. -uck you Lufthansa.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Back on the wagon!

..or fell back off of it, depending upon your opinion of Power Meters.. For the past couple of months, your hero has been manually entering mileage, duration and even estimations of average power into his Peaks software. This was so that I could maintain some semblance of correctly maintained data which represents my TSS and the running averages called CTL and ATL. I thought the Powertap was kaput when all this time it was nothing but a broken wire near the shark fin. I crimped the two together- it's ugly, but it works. I'll add a pic later. Data is so intoxicating. I promise to share as many power charts as my time allows, from now until the next wire breaks.
Here, get used to seeing a lot of this in 2009.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Viga rocks

Many thanks to my friend and team mate Rick Gervais for introducing me to Viga. I'm in my car horking down a serving of chicken Pomodoro.. This is sooooo good. Their pizza is excellent too. Look it up: Viga Italian Eatery. Walking distance from my projects on Beacon Street.

Is there a contest?

I'm at Harvard for an appt but the fire alarms went off and everyone's outside. Standing near the dozens of bikes these students and faculty ride around campus, it seems as though there's competition to have the crappiest, least maintained Piece of Shit humanly possible. Homeless people have been observed riding better bikes. There's a Schwinn "Le Tour" from the early 80s with what appear to be the original tires on it. Do these college pukes have any self respect? If you can afford this tuition, you can afford a bike that doesn't suck this badly, I think. There are limits to what is considered safe to ride.. 

Time to kick off the indoor training

If not for falling asleep at 8:30 with my son last night, I was going to set up the windtrainer, bring the LOOK indoors and even try to splice together the broken wires of my Powertap shark-fin wire. Oh well. Extra rest and sleep never hurt, so I'll be doing it tonight instead, which will kick off the real beginning of my 2009 road season. Joy.. What I'm less certain about is whether I want to race at Goddard this weekend. Lately I'm not so gung-ho about it.. but that could change quickly. Money's tight. I can't deny my son's request for a Hot Wheels Trick-Track Triple Stunt Starter Set and then blow $60 on entry fees, at least not without some guilt..