America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

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

Friday, July 29, 2011

Update from Turkiye

Hey New England, what's up? While all of you bake in the heat, I'm more or less doing the same here. We're presently at an ultra-all-inclusive resort in Antalya, on the south coast of Turkey, which is the north coast of the Mediterranean. Maybe Pettachi stayed here after the Tour of Turkey- he did vacation in Antalya after both of the last two editions, as did many other pros.
Training has been going well I think. This past Saturday was the uber long Hors Category Uludag hill climb, followed on Sunday with a very easy group ride with about 10 of Bursa's juniors and some old friends who I raced with as juniors here back in 1989. Sunday afternoon we loaded the car for a six hour drive from Bursa to Antalya. We had one white knuckle close call with a TIR (ginormous tractor-trailer).. But since a man's reflexes peak at the age range of 35-45 we avoided disaster. What amazing views along the way though- in some places you have a 360 degree view to 50 miles away.
Monday was spent taking care of my father-in-law, a retired math teacher who has lost his sight almost completely and more recently, his 2nd wife of 31 years who left him in his time of weakness. Nursing the broken heart of a hard-ass alcoholic chain smoker is hard work. I did not ride Monday or Tuesday. Before leaving to check into our resort Tuesday morning, we made sure the house was stocked with bread, alcohol and cigarettes. He's a hard liner when it comes to politics- communism would have been better for Turkey than anything else, IHHO.
Wednesday after getting settled in to our hotel I was kind of getting worried about form- what with all the free food. Three days off the bike was unacceptable, and a hard workout was missed Tuesday which I wanted to make up on Wednesday. So I headed out at about 6 am and did the work. It was a disappointing workout though- 3 minute intervals at FT +15%, to continue with 3 minute recoveries until I failed to match the average watts of the 3rd interval. I must have been pretty fatigued because the 4th interval was a failure after 90 seconds. I tried again a few minutes later, and again a few minutes later. Nothing doing- I must have simply burned all my matches on the first three intervals. Plus it's over 90 degrees out..
Thursday was a day for 3 hours of endurance pace. I coordinated a ride with a young pro who races for the ManisaSpor pro team. Ali Gulcan and I met up at 6:00 am and did a solid two hours together on an out and back course- there was a longish climb and some wonderfully flat smooth deserted streets at the top. We screamed back down the same hill weaving in between Mercedes tour buses. (All the "greyhounds" here are Mercedes- Made in Turkey- and many are only 3 seats across) if not for the traffic, we would have hit 55+ mph for sure. Ali has been my e-friend for a few years, and finally got the big break he was working towards this season- a coveted spot on the new ManisaSpor Pro Racing Team. It was pretty apparent early in our ride that my idea of rest pace and his were waaay different. Maybe we were just excited to finally meet and ride together, but it was half wheel hell for me at least 2/3 of the time. I'm very happy for this fellow- he had thoughts of giving up and with a lack of family support I understand completely how difficult it is to keep the belly fire burning bright. The living wage in Turkey is about 600$ a month. He's getting the UCI mandated minimum of 800 Euro a month, which is a handsome salary in Turkey for a 24 year old. The ManisaSpor team has some Serbs and Slovenians on it, and one dude who is former Tour stage winner. It's a bigger deal than it sounds to populate this team. Good for Ali. Next year their team will be wearing my Hasyun merino wool base layers.
Day three of training was today, consisting of two 20 minute intervals at FT, separated by 10 min of rest. This is the most intimidating workout on my schedule- I really do not enjoy pushing myself at a metered effort for more than 5 minutes. I decided to stay on the hotel strip which had only one rotary with a light, and it had hardly any traffic, and long enough that I could do 20 minutes on an out and back basis. I had a real lousy time with this last attempt a few weeks ago- I ended up doing them on the trainer, and missing my target watts by a mile. This morning was a bit different. I was a little light on sleep, but I was making up sleep time poolside. First 20 min effort was a touch restrained- I really wanted to nail both of these, instead of having a super 1st attempt and a lousy 2nd attempt. My average's range on the 1st was only about 10 watts- a good sign that I could have gone harder and handled it. But my mind is on the 2nd interval, which is not only much harder, it's the one which pays bigger dividends. I had a target on No 2 that was just 10 watts lower than the 1st. I soon discovered that this was a good call. Though I did "cheat" a little bit by doing a few short bursts to keep up with my goal. I did these in the first 5 minutes- only a few times. It ended up that in the final minute, I had something left and could tweak the average up to within 4 watts of the first interval. Success. And no iPod either to use for tempo- that always helps. The Normalized power of both efforts was only one watt apart. Tomorrow early morning I'll do a nice easy ride with my son- on the same lightly traveled hotel road- he will love it. Thanks for reading.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

The Climb

Check my Strava account for the data.. There wasn't any official timing but the guy who finished first happens to use Strava and he's listed on my Strava account as a follower. It looks like he made it to the peak 21 minutes ahead of me. His name is Cihat and he's 28 or so. Judging from his watts he weighs about 120 pounds. My battle was with my lower back- it was absolutely splitting in two the whole time. Any time I got into a good rhythm while seated I'd have to stand to relieve the back pain. I have bulging disks down at L5-L6 region.. It doesn't bother me in the short crits or in the drops- mainly acts up when climbing long durations and in cross.
Overall it was 34 miles- the first 13 miles were controlled up until the turnoff onto the real climb. From there it was about 20 miles of switchbacks with about 2 miles of downhill relief in the middle. Strava rates the climb and some parts of it as HC. We basically climbed one vertical mile in 20 miles. When you factor in the short descent, the overall grade is a little over 5%. They will do this event again next year. Those of you who show interest and reach out to me- I will help get you registered and find you lodging. The route is spectacular. The views are like those you get in an airplane. I had a great time.
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Friday, July 22, 2011

2011 Uludag Hill Climb

Here's the no-cost hill climb that has been organized by Not to poke fun at any other much shorter events here in New England, but forget $350, we're not paying one cent to participate in this 34 mile ride. There are 50 registered riders including your hero.. We drove a majority of the course today on kind of a pleasure sight seeing trip and the first hard 10 miles of climbing is on some of the most terrifying and picturesque roads I've ever seen. Yes I've climbed these hills before, but it's been a couple of years. The sheer drop offs on each leg of each switchback is just plain deadly. All it takes is one reckless driver to push you over the edge if your'e not paying attention. The climb is going to be brutal, plain and simple. I have my new Garmin heart rate strap and I expect to be paying close attention. Apparently there are some fast dudes coming here from Izmir who are supposedly very highly trained. We'll have to see I guess. I'm no natural on the long climbs but I have the advantage of experience- I've climbed this mountain a dozen times. So at the end of the day we will have ascended 8000+ vertical feet. Not bad for a day's work. Wish me luck.

Uludag mountain road view

We're having tea at a roadside cafe with this view. It's another 30k of climbing to the ski resorts at the top, which are at 1900 meters.
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Bursa from a distance

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Thursday, July 21, 2011


In a classy place like Turkey, you get to deplane in the middle of the tarmac and board a few futuristic bus which takes you to the terminal for passport kontrol.
I surprised my son by bringing his 20" Felt dirt bike. They charged 60 € for the privilege, even though there are parents checking in strollers and car seats for free. They inquired about the hard case contining my bike and I told them it was "full of socks and underwear- take a look". This sufficiently embarrassed the ladies in charge of playing God with my wallet.. But they drew the line with the open dirt bike. I just turned the handlebars sideways and removed the pedals- no erap or container. We will probably leave it here for a young relative to grow in to..
Enough about that. I am riding the new Fuji and finding that I made an error in choosing the Zipp handlebars. They have too much forward extension, and I'm too stretched out when I'm on the hoods. So much so that if I'm climbing a steep hill out of the saddle, it's hard to keep the rear wheel down. If I happen to hit a wet patch- forget it- no traction at all. So a shorter stem and a different handlebar are needed.
Saturday I am joining a hillclimb organized by the media company the route begins at 155m above sea level and ends up at about 1900m. We are climbing in honor of Rifat Caliskan, an old time pro racer from the 60s and 70s who passed away a couple of years ago. Highly regarded as Turkey's answer to Eddy Merckx, he is sorely missed by the cycling community here. So about 100 cyclists will start out on a 54 km route together, the first 13km being mainly gentle grade until we hang a left onto an unimpressive country road. We will ride neutral until this point and then whammo- balls to the wall for 37km. The climb has two phases. We will climb about 800m for 15km and then a 3km descent. Then we ramp up again for another 20km or so to the top. It's all switchbacks and pine trees and breath taking views. There is a yellow jersey for the first one to the top as well as trophies for the top three men and women.
I don't know how I will go on Saturday. I still feel jet lag and my lower back is really pissed about the 10 hour flight. But my legs feel strong. I did some climbing Wednesday and did pretty well with all things considered. Saturday I should be one of the top five to the top, who knows? There will be a fair number of lesser trained folks who are doing it for fun, and probably 10 or so guys with the ability to put the hurt on others. I'm not a climber so my FT pace is probably much slower than the specialists, we'll see. I suppose my best approach is to treat it like a zone 5 workout. I should attack at 5-6w/k for about 1 min and then recover at 3-4w/k for a minute. That's what I'm built for. This is much more likely to shed riders from my wheel. Can I do this for 2 hours straight? I'm not so sure. Wish me luck. Thanks for reading.
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Year to date stuff

Update to this post- this blog needs some cool music. I dig this song, so play it.

I like to look and see where I stand every so often. It could be argued that I've ridden and trained enough this year to be ripping people's legs off.. well.. that will happen in due time. I had an inadvertant mini peak in late May, right around the time I fell down at Wells Avenue. Fortunately, this incident caused me to slow down and take some rest, just in time to ramp up and aim for a new, higher peak in late August. That's what I'm gunning for, and my current fatigue is expected to dissipate in a couple of weeks after I go on holiday the last week of July. Just 10 more days of winding the spring and then we'll begin to let it unwind. A trusted source of training wisdom said it best when he told me "the house is all framed, now all you need to add are the finishing touches." Let's see if this training plan is successful. There are just a couple of people helping to show me the way, and I appreciate it immensely. Now if only I can get out of my own way with 1k2go.. My recent crash at the finish of Attleboro was pretty horrible- bike is totaled and my courage/trust of those riding near/in front of me, is at an all time low. This does not make for successful finishes to races. The best sounding advice I've received recently- attack at one to go and don't look back. Worst case, the strongest few will catch up to you and you can hang on to their coat-tails for a decent top five.. I'm liking the sound of that- my most advanced duration relative to power is in the 60-90 second range. I've managed 630 watts for a full minute, which translates to 9w/kg- the only zone on my chart that places me in the Cat 2 bracket. Anyway- the stats below indicate 312 hourrs of riding about 5335 miles (about 8550 km) That's more than the distance which I will be flying to Istanbul on Monday. Cool.
Here are the races I am planning to do after I return:
Concord Criterium, Witch's Cup, Fall River Criterium, Chris Thater Criterium, Topsfield RR, Portsmouth Criterium and finally, the Mayor's Cup Criterium. Yeah when you look at it, we're really only 1/2 way through the road season. There's even Jamestown in October, if one were so inclined.
Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 11, 2011

2011 New Britain Crit 35+ Results

Having raced with bandaged elbow, hip and a left leg that looks like a cat used it for a scratching post, and on a borrowed bike that weighs about 20 pounds, I am trying not to despair about placing only 15th. As a 3 person team we did a good job of making sure Ralf's break was successful. He gave it everything in the sprint and lost by less than a wheel. Kyle took 2nd in the field sprint, for 5th. So for the 5th time this season, our team puts 2 guys in the top 5. We're on a roll it seems. I just need to get my courage back in the final km of racing. Crashing takes that away from you.
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2011 New Britain Crit Pro-1-2 Results

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Monday, July 04, 2011

2011 Exeter Hospital Criterium 40+ Photo Finish

I wish I was included in this picture but seeing Matt and Kyle in the top 5 is enough to "make my armpits swell" s they say in the old country.. Being my first try at this daredevil venue with a stacked field of 100 opponents, I can't be disappointed by my 15th place. I did things, horrible things.. to get myself up into the money. Just kidding.. but it was really hard, seriously.