Monday, March 30, 2009

Break, Philly Phyler/Spiderman, Going Back to As?

Lots to cover today, but don't fret it's not much more that you are studying in that ever so difficult English class.  Today I'll be covering Spring Break, the Philly Phyler and my Future in the Men's B field.

As those of you who follow the blog, and other random associates know I spent Spring Break in DC and PA travelling, riding and racing. All of it spent with the one and only Josh from Colby. Bythe end of the trip we had spent a total of 21 hours riding together and another 23 hours trapped in a car together. Needless to say it was a bit much. There were fears before we started the endeavor that we may not even make it down to Delaware, as a fight to the death would have ensued within the confines of his SAAB.  But I survived to tell some tales and recall a few quotes that have made an impact on my life:

  • "Joe Kopena confirmed me as a facebook friend, my life is now complete"
  • Josh put in new cables 2 hours before the Delaware road race, he spent 3 hours the night before trying to do it. He said "I knew it was a bad idea" We also MacGuyvered a way for the chain to stay in the big ring just to be safe. 
(I used the cable end, and used it as a stop in the barrel adjuster so he could at least use the big ring)

(No Bar Tape or Front Derailleur Cable 12 Hours before the Delaware Road Race)

  • "I just want you to know I'm not wearing any pants right now." As he climbs into a sleeping bag on the bed I'm laying in. 
  • "You're a terrible person, I'm going to pee in your mouth. While you sleep!"
  • "I need to watch my stories!" - Referring to American Dad.
  • "It's not the wheels it's the woman" 
  • "Keep that up and I'm going to beat you with my frame pump."

In addition to riding outside DC, Josh and I also went up to PA for a couple days before the PhillyPhlyer race weekend. Thanks to host housing by Dan's (Colby) Parents, I had an awesome place to stay, good food and some good riding the Thursday and Friday. 

After a leisurely morning Dan, Josh and Andy (Colby) all got suited up for a nice wet ride out of Dan's house in Sellersville PA. It was great, about 49 degrees and wet, the whole time. We rode to New Jersey, and had lunch too, and managed to survive the ride back. I took the camera to document the occasion. 

(Andy doing her best George Washington impression as we crossed the Delaware River)
(Josh Loved the Conditions, here he is on the Delaware River)

(There were dirt roads and streams in PA. Josh Did his best to show off his 'cross skills)
(The bunch after a day in the Wet. Note: We did not bring Dan's Dogs with us)

The next day, Friday, the bunch head on up to Trexlertown and rode in that neck of the woods. We rode on the track (which was terrifying) and did a 2 hour loop with Lauren (Colby) who also lives in that neck of the woods.  It was a great ride, rolling hills, warm weather, low pace, Amish People, Cow Fields and I got to see Kutztown.  I brought the camera, but the batteries were dead. Oh well. 

Philly Phlyer/Spiderman
On Saturday Josh and I headed on down to Fairmount park to contest day 1 of the Philly Phyler. My race was only 24 miles, so I wasn't too worried about it and I had also raced this course twice before so I knew it well. 

When the B field got going I noticed immediately that we were going slow, that was a trend that continued for the rest of the race. My strategy going in was the same as I had last year, sit in until the last lap and then attack on the last small climb, which worked out well and I got tenth place, and that's exactly what I did this year.... for the most part. Until the last lap I was riding the race pretty well, I had conserved my energy, stayed out of the wind and tried to stay near the front. This of course all blew up in my face on the last lap. As we were starting to gear up for the finish on the last flat section of road I tried to make my way up in the field. I saw UVM Derek and tried to follow his wheel, but just as I was moving to my left I saw a UPenn rider go down right in front of me, I thought "Oh Shit" and prepared for impact. By some miracle I slammed the front brake, which hit this Penn guy who was on the ground and dislodged my self from my bike in Mid-Air. I then went flying over the pile up and landed like this:
After landing I quickly put my head on a swivel and looked backwards to asses the situation, I saw a  pile up of about 6 riders. After which I turned around, sprinted back to grab my bike, which was entangled in the aforementioned UPenn rider and then hopped on the saddle like in a 'cross race and clipped in. From that point onwards I desperately sprinted to catch the field, but with no success. I ended up rolling in a few seconds behind the bunch, but managed to stay away from two riders I saw catching up to me.   Dang. I was feeling good, had a plan and it didn't work out. I guess that's bike racing. 

Much like day 1 I had a strategy for the Crit on Day two. Basically it was go for a prime or two and throw a couple of attacks and then try and get good positioning for the sprint.  And that is exactly what I did. I attacked on a prime lap, but didn't do it quite right and ended up pulling the field, and gave up. Later I followed a UVM wheel into a prime sprint and managed to get some points out of it. I then recovered for a while and began to get ready for the finish. Of course I waited way to long to get back to the front and had to move up on the outside at 2 laps to go and found my self near the front. But, I had trouble finding a wheel and endued up somewhere in the bunch for the final sprint.  ... It happens.

Going Back to A's?

So I've been struggling with this decision for the last few weeks and I'd like to invite you the people to give me some input on what I should do. Basically, my B results have been mostly pack finishes, aside from a rough time at the Stevens and Delaware crits (Grant's tomb I'm counting as a pack finish, if it weren't for that stupid ore-race latte).  However, I have definitely put in the hours this winter and past week and I feel super strong. Additionally, I don't really think I have to try in the B races, the pace is chill and I am never really in difficulty, especially in the climbs during the Delaware Road Race or the Philly circuit. I've ridden somewhere around 1800 miles between the road and the trainer and feel good well into 3 or 4 hours rides. The question in my mind is should stay in B's and make attacks, or go up to A's and struggle for those pack finishes? Lastly, it's my senior year of college, so I might as well go out on top, right?  (See poll to the left)

Thanks for reading. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

ECCC Ladies, Race Recaps, and Break

Ok, today's post will cover several topics. One being about women in the ECCC, the second being my racing and the third my spring break. Get ready.

1) WTF Ladies of the ECCC? Seriously, I'm so disappointed with you guys this week. There is some major suckitude going on here. The turn out this week, absolutely TERRIBLE! I mean only 4 hardcore ladies for the A road race and just 5 for the intro crit? What is going on? I mean, Delaware isn't that far away. You gals missed a great event, and really took a lot away from the momentum we had going. When you don't show up, potential riders will look at the results and say "I'm not going to do ECCC events if we only have 4 racers," and we'll be hurting in the long run. I'm expecting big results for the Philly Phyler, which is looking to be a great event once again!

2) My racing thus far has been less than great. In general I've been a big wimp, and I've been making stupid mistakes during, or before races. For example,  during the Grant's Tomb crit, I was in good form, I threw an early attack and I was sitting pretty comfortable in the field. The race was going pretty well and I was fancying myself for a respectable result. However, with 3 laps to the finish I started to feel incredibly nauseous and my morning $0.99 latte repeated on me. I actually pulled out of the field, right by the start finish and threw up right next to Caitlin, who was less than amused.  The next day I did the Stevens Tech Crit. I finished, kind of. That's all I have to say about that. 

This past weekend I went on down to Delaware. This being part of my spring break I got to travel down with argyle clad Colby guy Josh, who will be travelling with me throughout the week. We left his house in CT on Friday and stayed at Joe and Caitlin's house. It was pleasant, we bought them vegan cookies. 

The Road Race on Saturday went  ok, but not great. I wasn't in difficulty the whole race and generally felt we went pretty slow. There were only two downsides, the first being that I didn't really get the line I wanted into the last important turns and the second being the entire UVM team was giving me a hard time about not attacking. Had I known before hand that they would have let me go, I would have attacked. Thanks fellas. 

The next day I did the crit. I stuck in there for a while, but there was a moment where  a small gap opened up and I didn't grit my teeth to get back on and I just gave up. MAJOR WIMP OUT. I guess I need to learn to suffer some more. 

3) Spring break is here. I've been in Washington DC, I've been crashing at my sister's house and travelling with Josh. The weather is about 20 degrees warmer than in Schenectady. The riding is good, but it's kind of a pain to get outside the city. Oh well, good miles, sun and not too cold. 

Here's some photos:

(Josh Just Before Monday's Ride)

(Having fun on a bike path on Tuesday)

(Josh on the C&O Tuesday)

(Me on the C&O Tuesday)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Weak 1

Ugh, rough weekend. I really don't want to talk about it. But, I'm going to pick myself up, put on my big boy pants and tell you, the people, all about how horrifyingly terrible my races were.

So, I went down to the event with Brooks, of Bard. We arrived at the hotel reasonably early and had a big dinner of pasta, sauce, turkey sausage and varying vegetables. Seeing as I was racing A, and he was racing C, we decided to roll in to the ITT fairly late and then get ready to race.

After a pretty solid warm up and being bothered by some people while on the trainer I headed over to the start line and went off just in front of Ross from UVM. I went off pretty well, rode what I thought was a good pace and tried to average 23mph. Eventually I got passed by Ross, but I was still happy because I felt that I had put in a respectable effort..... Only hours later would I learn that while I did get a 21 second improvement from last year, I finish 2nd to last in Men's A.

(before the ITT, courtesy Brian Roberts)

I'll spare you the details, but I spent most of the day before the crit, on the Mic, coaching intro and generally fooling around. Eventually I got my act together and warmed up, still certain that I could at the very least hold my own in the crit. That was not to be the case. I started 3rd row and had an ok but not great start. After ascending the hill and speeding down the descent I saw I was probably about 3/4 of the way back in the well strung out field. After only 1 or 2 laps in the field I made a HUGE mistake on turn 4 and tapped the breaks just before everyone else accelerated out of the turn. I ended up losing a few places and went straight to the back. Then going up the hill like and idiot I dropped my chain as I was just catching back on and lost more time to get off and fix it. After this point I spent the next 5-6 laps with UVM Derek, AJ, and Anna McLoon (Harvard), going really fast with pathetic attempt to catch back on. Basically Derek and I did all the work, and while it did seem like we were closing the gap on the descent, it would open back up through the start and the hill. Eventually Alan Atwood put us out of our misery after being lapped by the field.

(Early in the A Race, There I am just behind the Army Guy, Thanks Uri)

After being pretty frustrated by the Crit I was really not sure about the circuit race. I spent the time leading up the race on the PA for a while, relaxing, walking around and drinking lots of water. But I still didn't feel very well. And as an added bonus I became very anxious.
When I finally got into my kit and began to ride around the parking lot I was already not looking forward to racing. But I did hit the trainer for a while, which included watching some races, a really crappy pick me up speech by Joe, and pathetically trying to keep my heart rate down.
I got a pretty good spot at the start, 2nd row, but in the end it didn't really matter. When we got going I spent a while trying to move up and having some chit chat with some of the other races as we rocketed about the circuit. I spent oh, about 4 or 5 laps in the pack until some one attacked and there was BIG acceleration. I was about mid pack at the time and went backwards, pathetically trying to stay on the last wheel in the bunch, which happened to be Natan from BU. Then at some point I ended up in a chase for a few laps, got dropped by them, picked up a Drexel guy, got dropped by him and then rode alone for a couple of laps. All the while getting some lonesome cheers. When I was eventually pulled I was pretty upset about the whole ordeal and mulled around for a while. Then very dramatically I went over to the start area took of my blue numbers and exchanged them for pink B numbers.
In the end I took away a few lessons from the event:
  1. A Field has no forgiveness, you need to be perfect through each turn.
  2. I shouldn't fool around all day, and I should focus on my race if I want to do well.
  3. I REALLY suck at Time Trials.
  4. I am still faster than AJ, who I beat in both the mass start events.
  5. I can ride in the A pack, but I need to work on a few things before I can go back.

Monday, March 2, 2009

New Racer's Guide to the ECCC

The ECCC season opener is just one week away, and with this post I'd like to make a few recommendations to our ever growing fields of new riders. So please reading the following tips and you'll be ready for the oncoming onslaught of early wakeups, hours of car travel, sleeping on floors, eating health foods and racing for a whole 20min after 6 hours of transit. Bear in mind all may not apply to you, but it doesn't hurt to read them all.

1) Shave those legs! There is nothing worse than a rookie shoing up on race day with thick layer of fur caressing your pair of pistons powering your bike. Aside from your orange number, it'll be the number one indicator that your new to the game and if you're not going to be fast, you should at least look fast, Kyle has got some great tips for you.

2) Relax! I know that you're anxious and scared heading into your first event, but calm down. If you head to the start line all twitchy and nervous, you're already causing problems. It is imperative for your safety as well as the riders around you, that you hold your line and ride those turns smoothly. So keep down that vomit, strap up those toe clips and get to the start line with a staredown for the pathetic weaklings you're about to destroy.

3) Clean up that Old 10-Speed. First of all, if you're riding a ten speed with downtube shifters than you are awesome, much respect. But if you must be riding that old ten speed, be sure to check the brakes, replace that rusted out chain and lube up those shifters. Because, while you've got miles of style, you still need that bad boy to be race ready.

4) Don't Bring Aero Gear. You don't need it, you don't want it, you need the car space for other stuff and it's against the rules. I would hate to see you be called a sandbagger like this guy.

5)Learn the Vocab. Take some time to memorize these terms and you'll sound like a seasoned ECCC veteran:

  • Sandbagger-A punk who races in a category well below his skill/fitness level. Also, see James "Slim" Patterson, (UVM '08).

  • Cipollini-Possibly the greatest human to ever dawn spandex and ride a bicycle, a man known for style and grace. A man with amazing hair and an affinity for garish, yet attractive, skinsuits. Simply put, a god among insects.

  • Joe Kopena-A skinny man who runs the travelling circus that is the ECCC. Often seen in a light blue Prius, (don't worry it's his girlfriend's car).

6) Throw lots of stupid attacks. Why should you wait around in the pack until the final sprint? Attack! Go of the front with a burst of speed. If you get caught, attack again. If you get dropped, at least you'll have had a few moments of glory.

7) Cheer on your fellow racers. So often during ECCC events, racers do homework before or after their race. So what if you have a 50 page paper on how Voltaire influenced Darwin, who influenced Keynes who influenced Obama's Economic Package. Put that off for the late hours of Sunday night and spend the day Saturday and Sunday screaming your head off at the other lunatics who decided it would be a good idea to race their bikes in 30 degree (F) weather.

So, for now follow these tips and you'll be right as rain..... So long as you've been training.