America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

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

Sunday, June 28, 2009

2009 Keith Berger Criterium 30+

I always enjoy racing in East Hartford. So much so, that I avoid missing it even when I haven't been training right for 2 weeks and on a weekend when I'm in the middle of moving all our furniture and belongings to a new residence. My balls are bigger than my brains I guess, and it's a miracle my wife didn't leave me, but I pulled it off somehow. I traveled to East Hartford, registered, raced as best I could (14th out of 65 starters) and headed straight home for more packing and furniture humping. I'm still doing it and it's 8:30. This morning, every muscle was screaming in pain from Saturday's movement of possessions. I debated for many many minutes what I wanted to do, and in the end, I found myself throwing the bike, shoes and helmet in the car and taking off.
Race-wise, I have little to report since I did nothing of great merit, there is little to tell. Five good riders broke away and the rest of the field sprinted for 6th or 7th. Targettraining and Spooky seemed to dominate and to wit, their lead out person (SB?) sat up and coasted just before the final corner where everyone was trying to accelerate. This caused a bunch of us to grab the brakes and avoid stacking it up on top of him, and this could not have hurt his team mate take the field sprint for 6th.. Well played I guess.. I ended up 8th or 9th in the sprint and 14th overall. One crash took me out of the race completely- I had to come to a complete stop, to avoid smooshing a certain recently crashed GA who was curled up in fetal position, eyes closed, under his bike. I only really stopped to make sure he was okay, and he was just bracing for me to leave tire tracks on his cadaver I think. He and I and a few others took a free lap for this delay. I wish I could have cracked top 10, but I've ridden one time all week since Harlem, and only twice the week before. Feeling fresh, but not particularly fast. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Turkish Eye Candy: Nil Karaibrahimgil

Yes and the next puke to ask me about deserts and camels or other ignorant shit gets a swift backhand to the mouth. I swear..

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Masters Nationals Results and Data and more Pining

The chart below is the 10k Nationals time trial I rode in Turkey- 292 watts (3.9watts/kilo) for 14:43. That's nothing to sneeze at, [if you're me..] You will notice the speed going out is much higher than the return, but the watts are pretty close- almost dead nuts averages for both the out leg and the return leg. ( wonder what Nega Coach and Friel would have to say about my pacing here?) Winds were kind of wild and the roads were awful. If you didn't weave across the lanes to find the fastest line, the road was beating the crap out of you. They shut down one side of a four lane highway- with cops at every intersection. Chips were used for timing- a good PRO set-up was used with a huge red, inflatable finish "kite". What a site for sore eyes that was as I rounded the final bend, smoking my BB with an insane 97 rpm cadence.. Good times. I can't wait to go back. For that matter, I can hardly wait for the Bob Beal Omnium! I've already set up my old epx road bike with clip ons and I've been trying out different positions- it definitely needs a shorter stem.

The infamous 10k Nationals time trial where I thought I was 8th- apparently someone bellyached about being delayed or something and had their name shoe-horned in there, so now I'm 9th. Ugh. This was such a mind-fuck. Think of it- me -a good time trialist? I knew I'd be top 10- life is harder in Turkey- these guys can't train 1/2 as much as we can, they race 2-3 times a year, not 20-30 like we do. So being the 11th finisher, I was told I had the fastest time- one of the officials said that he doubted anyone would beat my 14:43. It held up pretty good for about 1/2 hour. I could hardly believe it- so I did not celebrate. though all my friends were patting me on the back and I let them.. Sure enough, the last guys to roll off were the ones with the best results from last year's nationals.. so eventually, I was knocked down to 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th,.. and finally 8th. That really sucked donkey balls. My benchmark was public information and everyone knew what time they had to beat, relative to beating me anyway.. So if you scroll down and look at the times, you will see that only 21 seconds separated me from the podium. I will probably pine about this for years and years, but I had no aero helmet, wheels, tt bars, skinsuit or disk. I was cannibal except for lycra shoe covers. I am soooo going back there next year and returning with a medal. But don't get me wrong, I know my place here. If I tried the US Nationals TT, I'd be hard pressed to do better than an anonymous low-mid field finish, at best. I can live with that, really.
I don't mind pointing out that in the road race, I was popped on the first big hill, and then turned myself inside out catching back up to the leaders, which happened right at the turn-around.. Needless to say, the road tilted up again at that point, and your hero was gassed.. I chewed through the handlebars to stay with the leaders, but the next hill was a wind-swept ball-buster, and I fell apart completely about 200m from the top. I was alone, completely alone.. Only about 12 guys were behind me all blown apart, and about 20 guys ahead of me- also blown apart.. But 6 of them opened a gap and that was that. I did another pursuit after this hill and picked up two guys to work with and we drilled it to catch back on to the primary chase group. When we caught up, we were 1 minute down on the leaders, and there was still about 40k left to race. Team mate Murat Akyazi and I had this group strung out the whole entire way to the finish. No one could be bothered to take a pull, and a few guys were dropped along the way. The gap kept growing though- there was not enough help. When it came down to 1k2go, I took a position at the front and watched everything. Someone launched a sprint from 500m out (they painted this on the road) and I followed.. After he blew his wad, I opened up my sprint and was passed by one of the guys who used the "It's not in my best interest to take a pull" tactic the whole way.. Check his TT time. Such is bike racing. That's all I'm gonna say.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 22, 2009

2009 Harlem Skyscraper 35+ Criterium Report

My little boy gave me a cold for Father’s Day!.. So Sunday morning I had a raw scratchy painful cough and congested lungs.. I went to Harlem anyway as planned. It’s been a year of waiting! They combined the 35+ and 45+ for about 40 total guys.. separate prizes and rankings though.. Three guys broke free fairly early- I’m pissed that I didn’t bridge across when they went.. but I guess if I believed I could have, then I would have. Confidence is such a huge factor.. Duh. On the bright side, the rain held off- not sure how the pros made out.. The small field was more or less strung out the whole way.. No primes that I can remember.. With 6 to go, someone attacked, I followed, I pulled through, and rode him off my wheel. So now I had a ½ block gap to try to hold for 4 more laps. I was committed- riding with my wrists on the tops, I was holding them off pretty good. Coming up on 3 to go, just before the final corner, I hit a hole in the road so big that I’m amazed my fork didn’t break. It threw me partially over the bars, but I recovered and avoided falling. Speed dropped, nerves were shattered and I lost momentum and was swarmed during the following lap. Two to go.. I’m hanging on in the field as best I can- breathing in short gasps- wishing it were over, or wishing I had my late May form.. With one to go I’m nurturing my position- or rather- fighting for it literally- this is Harlem. Guys were PUNCHING eachother at one point- and lots of yelling.. I’m one of the top guys through the 2nd to last corner, but it cost me dearly- Everyone went to Mach 5 on that final run-in before the final corner, and I had nothing left- could not get up to the proper speed.. but I tried so damn hard. I sprinted- if you can call it that, to minimize the number of guys passing me. It was an all out effort that had me slowing down just before the line.. A few bottom feeders passed me with a like 5 meters to go- I was done.. They ranked me 10th in the 35+.. Better than last year when I was 18th out of about 71 starters- on a soaking wet course- but I was there to do better than 10th. Wish I could have delayed getting a cold by one day..

Now if Sunday were as prestigious as the 2008 edition, this would have been good enough for 16 rank points.. but I’m not so lucky- this year it’s a “D” event instead of an “A” event, so 10th place is only worth 1 point. I’ll take it. I know I did my very best physically, because when I do, my head feels like it will explode after the finish, followed by nausea and dizziness. Check, check and check.. It’s partially because I’m sick, but mostly because I didn’t sit up at the end, no matter what. In a mixed category event, you never know for sure who is passing you- it’s best to go full tilt no matter what.

Thanks for reading.

Next up: Keith Berger Criterium on Sunday. My favorite.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

It passes you by

And you think the curve is still going steeply upwards- it's not. It reverses course and sends you into the death spiral of form which follows peaking.. You know- those weeks when you always feel like you have two flat tires and begin to reflect on how unbeatable and fast you felt a few weeks ago. Sadly, if you knew at the time that you were peaking back then, your whole outlook, attitude and confidence would have been on a different level.
My volume is down in June, for a lot of reasons.. May was 1000+ miles though- with five consecutive 240 mile weeks. Friday afternoon I just had to go out and do a field test- a 20 mile loop of rolling hills. Personal best last year was 58 and change. This year I had yet to break 1:01. Friday's time was 58:30.
By the way- I broke the bb spindle of my ergomo while tightening a crank arm. I'm now using my new-to-me Bontrager Powertap set and I gotta say- it's quite stingy with the watts compared to the Ergomo.. But that's also partly due to weight loss.
Hope to throw it down tomorrow in Harlem.
Thanks for reading.
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Saturday, June 13, 2009

2009 NUTMEG Pro Criterium Photo Finish and Results

The first crit in New Britain usually blows for me- I always do better in the July edition- this year will not be an exception. I did so much screwing around before the start of the 35+ that I got no warmup and rode straight from the car to the line. That sucked. Not a good race for me- I felt like I had a flat the whole time. When it came time to sprint, I was lethargic and fatigued (forgot to down my Red Bull before the start, too) and with no room to go anywhere, I practically coasted to a finish in the mid-20s.. The 30+ race which followed was no better. In fact, after three laps I took myself right out of it. Head was not on straight- my son Reis was throwing a tantrum when I went to refill bottles and change numbers- and it became un-fun to the point of wanting to stop and lie down. I forgive myself now, but at the time a sickening sense of self hate came over me for being such a pussy. This forfeiture meant that I had nearly 2 hours to kill before the Pro race. I can write thousands of words about the dozen or so times that wheels touched and squealed, handfuls of brakes were grabbed, and bikes swerved in anticipation of horrible crashes. This was probably the most dangerous crit I have ever raced. 125 guys do not fit too well on this venue, where in three places, the course narrows and funnels everyone into eachother. With 3 laps to go Ka-BOOM! huge crash takes out 6-7 guys. Two laps to go, another crash crackles like lightning and takes aout another 3-4.. One lap to go- going into the final uphill chicane- Ker-POW! 4-5 bodies go flying and push me into the curb at eye popping speed. I stay upright, but the lead 25 guys are pulling away from the huge gap. I sprint to get back on but by this time the front of the field is single file and leading into the final corner. I catch up and dive-bomb into the corner when SPLAT!- three more guys take eachother out while cornering at MACH 3. I get inside of the carnage and uncork the fumes left in my tank. The results were posted and right where I expected to see my name is an "X". So naturally I go to the camera tent and advise them that "I'm the guy who is your 26th place, Bib No 1". Done.
The last three laps were a lottery. You were either lucky or unlucky. Don't anyone give me any crap about there not being any luck in bike racing. I did not survive all the close calls and the crashes by being an awesome bike racer. The Red Bull sharpened my senses and that helped a lot- I felt totally wired- but I had luck on my side today. 125 or so starters and 80 finishers.. 80 lucky finishers..
Gotta hand it to CCB! They lined up their team at the front for three laps, fighting like mad to reel in the two guys who were up the road. Not only did they succeed- without any help from any other team- they also launched Colin J to victory with an armchair leadout. I salute their excellence today. Tomorrow I expect to feel a little more opened up than I did today. Breathing was short for some reason, maybe having ridden only once at Ninigret all week, a definite loss of form was detected today. It's no surprise, really.. I will sharpen up with some proper volume in the next two weeks. Thanks for reading. Whaling City Cyclone tomorrow! No rain!

Friday, June 12, 2009


Today I am asked to move into the cubicle of a person who took their own life over the weekend.

He will be missed.

Few pics from the trip

Bursa in the distance, nestled against Uludag Mountain with ski reort on top- I've climbed it, it's over one mile of vertical distance you see there.Europe on the left, Asia on the right..
Murat x 2 = trouble
Snake tattoo

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ninigret No 5: Sleep-racing

Past two years I’ve gone to Turkey and returned on a Sunday and raced Ninigret the following Wednesday. Last year, I was somehow able to win the field sprint and get 7th, but I just wasn’t feeling the love last night and it was all I could do just to avoid quitting. A few accelerations early on really put me in the red, and it took forever to shake the effects. I’m a little bit discouraged, but the jetlag and the fatigue of my vacation still lingers in a big way, if that makes any sense. Technically, at 7:00 pm Ninigret time it’s really 2:00 am for me.. Anyway, I like the way that I’m accelerating but I don’t like the amount of recovery time I’m needing between big efforts. Also worth mentioning, I almost crashed last night when another rider who I’d overlapped shifted suddenly left, and my front wheel started to hug their rear wheel. Some quick thinking and weight shifting freed me from this, but then sent me careening off at high speed into the grass on my right. If this had happened from the inside of the course, everyone to my right would have been taken out like bowling pins. From that point on, I resigned myself to tail-gunning the field and just finishing in one piece.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sad week so far..

This wonderful April-like weather isn’t enough of a downer- a co-worker here at MW1 commited suicide over the weekend. And just now I discover that the Turkish cycling legend Rifat Caliskan (2nd from the right- my father Irfan is on far left) has passed away from a heart attack. He was a friend of the family who raced with my father in the late 60’s, who coached me in the summer of 1989, and who was Turkey’s answer to Eddy Merckx at one time. RIP.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Starting to sink in.. Grrrrrr

As I view the podium photos and the pictures of guys warming up on TT bikes from last weekend's Nationals racing, I am gradually stinging with regret and infected with jealousy. Clip on aero bars would have scored a Silver Medal. On one hand, me.. winning the TT would have been somewhat of a disgrace, especially considering my sub-par time trialing ability. On the other hand, my superior racing frequency probably gives me an edge over the others, who have probably not time trialed since the last Nationals and who definitely have not raced even 1/5 as much as I have... No doubt about it- the winning time was clocked by a very good time trialist- he beat No 2 by 50 seconds and me by 70. Still, he had the advantage of a TT bike, helmet, skinsuit, and going out last, presumably because he's last year's winner. I have one year to improve my equipment, my position and my attitude toward time trialing, and I can't wait to get started. I'm cautiuously optimistic about time trialing- it's a discipline which I think I may have more success improving- relative to climbing anyway. One thing which I definitely resolve to use is 172mm cranks which are what I've always raced on before buying the LOOK 486 back in 2006. Thanks for reading and for tolerating my woe-is-me crap.
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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Forgot to include:

Dacia, Alfa Romeo and Citroen.
These are some interesting cars.
I'm blown away by the new hatch version of the Honda Civic. That thing's a work of art.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


It always amuses me how this country went from having three or four auto brands back when I was a kid, to now having more than we have in the US. Back in the 70s, the only cars on the road were LADA, Skoda, Renault and TOFAS (Turkish FIAT). These days we see such oddities as SEAT, Peugeot, and OPEL- all of which make very handsome cutting edge vehicles. Then of course the ubiquitous Kia, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Hyundai, Mercedes, BMW, Audi, VW, and Volvo are everywhere. I have not seen any Saabs. Honda Accords look like Integras and Civics look like American Accords. Weird. Imports such as Land Rovers and Lincoln Navigators cost DOUBLE, yet you see more in one day than we see in a month driving in New England. On the interstate highway between Istanbul and Ankara, we were passed by some pretty sick drivers doing nearly 200 kph in their Beamers and Benzes. Speaking of BMW- I saw one yesterday which looked like it was on steroids- a kind of bad-ass looking cross-over. I would like to have one-but even with my generous income, it's impractical and out of reach (I'm a cheap bastahd) How do they afford it? Well apparently there are two classes here- have and have not. Both are immense. Middle class is a minority. Time for breakfast. Its rainy out today so we're keeping the rental car one more day.
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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Time Trial what ifs

I do not like to express regret, but two things have been turning my crank ever since Saturday:
1. Not having any clip on bars or aero helmet or aero wheels or skinsuit, did indeed cost me a spot on the podium. Over 10k distance, all I needed to pick-up was 2 seconds per km (needed 22 seconds to be 2nd and 18 seconds to be 3rd)
2. Going out early was not an advantage. I was 11th out of 40 to start and had the best time up until the 30th rider returned. It could have helped me, too, if I had a time that I could shoot for.

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Masters Nationals 70km Road Race in Turkey

The road race turned out to be a nasty little smack down. Closing roads in Turkey usually causes a disruption of Tiananmen Square proportions, so the road courses are usually out an back like a TT course. Ours had one diversion that was also out and back, so picture a course that is T shaped. This means that any hills that you climb, will be climbed again in reverse on the way back. I was pitifully shelled on the first windswept one miler. Actually, I wasn't shelled so much as dropped by the 6-7 leaders, which also included fellow team mate Murat Akyazi. I let myself get swarmed by the field and put my head down and dragged everyone up to the leaders with help from a couple of others. We caught them right at the turn around point of the first leg of the course. From here it was a very gradual big ring climb for 3 miles, then a nausuating corkscrew descent, followed by the back side of the original hill where I got gapped. This time I really chewed through my handlebars to stay connected and probably made some womanly noises trying to stay on.. The hills out here are wind blown and the roads are extremely heavy and rough. I was dropped again, but this time I exploded completely and ended up having to ease off until I got over the top. For a minute there I felt like my race was over, but I pulled myself together.. From here, it was a long straight downhill with a tailwind. I was last over the climb, except for maybe 10-15 guys who were shelled for good on the first climb. After getting my lungs to retreat back down my throat, I started to attack the road with vigor, picking up one then two then three others and getting them into rotation with me. I took the longest pulls! We could see the field 30-40 seconds up the road and it took about 5-6 minutes to close it and latch on. Unfortunately, six of the tops guys went clear on that last climb and had about a minute on us at this point. Our group never closed the gap and I got 2nd in the field sprint, so 8th again! Doh! I can tell you that Murat and I had the field strung out single file for the 2nd half of the race. We got away a few times but kept getting caught- and then no one else would work with us.. We rode an honorable race. Murat ended up 16th after blowing his wad in a solo kill with 2km to go. A very exciting race!
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