Sunday, June 20, 2010

Preparing for failure

This up coming weekend is the big show, the Israeli Elite National Road Championships, and I have just done something really stupid, I registered.

Now sadly I can't win the national title, nor will I win. Why you ask? First, the National Championships runs like Philly used to, the first Israeli across the line will be the National Champ, where as the first person across the line will just win the race. Secondly, I am in now way in any kind of fitness, proven during my double DNF double race weekend two weekends ago.

But to help psych myself up for the race I'm taking a quick glance at my 3 previous American National Championship races:

  1. 2008 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships, Mount Snow, VT (Men's Sport Cross Country 19-24): I started the 14 person race with hopes that I wouldn't be embarassed, so I went out too hard on the first climb of the race, not realizing there was a MUCH longer climb later on (I didn't research the course) and quickly went out the back on the first lap of two, I managed to slog around the course totally burned and finished the race in dead last, as the other people that far off the back had enough sense to drop out. Result: 14 of 14

  2. 2009 USA Cycling Collegiate National Championship Road Race, Fort Collins, CO (Division 2 Men): First, I didn't belong there, I had only qualified for the race with the smallest margin. So, in typical genious style, I slowly rode of the front attacked on the very first climb, sumarily got caught, spat out the back and rode maybe 45 miles, 20 or so by myself, before dropping out. Result: DNF

  3. 2009 USA Cycling Collegiate National Championship Criterium, Fort Collins, CO (Division 2 Men): Second row start, spent the first 15 minutes or so in the pack, drifting backwards until I got spat out the back. Then I ended up in a chase group full of other pour souls and the officials pulled us of the course before the fast people had the chance to run my slow ass over. But hey, I "finished" not last! Result: Pulled and Placed 63 of 69
So with that history of success I am super excited to get my ass dropped during the 140km race this weekend!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ok, this heat is starting to get to me...

So, as some of you may know, Israel is HOT, and I don't mean like New England where we get that week or two in August where you can't breathe. No, it's been hot (in my opinion) since Mid-April. Now granted, my opinion of hot is a bit skewed compared to most people, and especially when compared to people from California and Israel. As I've explained to friends for years, my favorite riding (and living) temps for Spring, Summer and Fall are somewhere between 50F (10C) and 70F (21C) for pretty much anything. Heck, I thought my trip to Tuscon back in January with daily temps around 70F(21C) to be a bit warm. I'm happiest with a cool breeze, partly cloudy skies and crisp air. However, sadly, I have experienced a solid 15 minutes of this in Israel, I think it was the first night I was in Israel after my arrival.

So for me, when I was riding around Tel Aviv in Early March with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 70s F (Low 20s C), I was starting to feel the pressure, at that time you could leave the apartment at 10am and be fine, it wouldn't be that hot and you had to be a little concerned with the sun. Then in April, you tried to avoid the middle of the day, say, 11-2, and in May anything after 10am was getting a bit toasty. The ride I did with Ian, Idan and Brian a few weeks back was borderline dangerous because of the heat.

But now, as the summer rolls in and sun get's higher it's just getting absurd. Exemplified by my weekend trail ride with Cousin Eyal and his buddies in Rabin Park. First, I've got to say, the trails were great, super steep single track, berms, loose corners, rocks and a few fire road climbs. But the downsides: we were on the trail at 6:45 am, so I had to wake up at 5:30 am to be on time for my ride at 6:00am.

Why, the hell did we have to get to the trails so freaking early you ask? I'll tell you why, because after we got back to the cars around 9:30, the temperature was a staggering 92F (33 C), and it was ONLY 9:30 in the MOTHER F&*KING MORNING! I mean, c'mon dude, you've got to be kidding me, we haven't even hit the summer solstice yet.

(Check out the haze!)

Another example, is my commute this morning, that was some where around 82F (28C ), and that was cooled by a seabreeze (photoblog of my commute coming soon), but that's absurdly hot for 8:30 in the morning.

As a result of all this heat, aside from my continual complaining, is the heat is actually starting to give me "Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder," a rare condition felt by me many that get depressed from continual sunshine, warm temperatures, few clouds, and lack of rain in their day-to-day lives. All I can say is that I'm trying to cope with all this sunshine, by closing the blinds, cranking the air-conditioning and trying to imagine a cooler, more wooded place, like Northern Maine. Hopefully I'll get through this horrible sunshine-induced depression and come out the other side a stronger person, but for now all I really want is to pile on the layers, strap on my neoprenes and do a really cold bike ride!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Double Double Race Weekend

Oh yeah, I totally raced bikes this weekend in Israel. It was awesome, by which I mean it was pathetically awesome, epic, stupid and painful. Because not only did attempt to do two races in a weekend for the first time in 6 months(at NBX), but I also had not been training at all for over a month, and the scheduling was a total nightmare. Oh, and I had no clue how I was getting home from the race on Friday, or how I was getting to or back from the race on Saturday.

The Schedule:
  • 12:15 PM Leave my Apartment and ride 6km to the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station, to take the 1:10 Bus to race near Tarum (תרום).
  • 12:45 PM Arrive in the Bus Station, subsequently get lost, spend 20 minutes wandering aimlessly and talk on the the phone with Ian trying to sort out my car ride for the next day's race.
  • 1:05 PM I finally find the right bus company's information desk and ask in horrible hebrew where the "Four-One-One" Bus is leaving from. Sadly, he does not speak a word of english, spanish or french, but is blessed with hands and the word "Sham" (שם) which means "there" and points me in the right direction.
  • 1:10 PM Get on the bus and roll out of Tel Aviv.
  • 2:15 PM Arrive at the Tarum (תרום) bus stop and ride another 3 km uphill on the road to get to the entrance of the park and then another 3km on the park gravel road to get to the parking lot, start/finish and registration.
  • 2:50 PM With a mix of terrible Hebrew on my end and terrible English from the guy running registration, I register as the ONLY rider for the "Elite" Race, awesome, I'm going to win!
  • 2:55 PM I begin accosting people in the parking lot, asking for rides back to Tel Aviv, as the bus will not be running when the race is over because it's going to be"erev shabbat," change in to my GREENLINEVelo gear, and do my final pre-race checks.
  • 3:10 pm Get to the start line, chat up some kids watching the race and while waiting for the gun and meet some adults, like Paz, who is the only participant in the Women's Elite Race.
  • 3:15-4:00 PM I ride around on an AWESOME XC course, with technical terrain, a good mix of climbs and descents, and great singletrack. At one point, on the first lap, I cut off Paz up a really steep section and as she would tell me later I almost crashed her off a small cliff, fortunately she was fine. 2 minutes later she passes me on the long climb back up to the finish and I never see her again. I spend the next 3 laps realizing that: I have lost all my fitness and my legs hurt like hell, and there is no way I'm going to be able to complete the 7 laps I was signed up for. So I drop out gracefully, so that all the referees, marshalls and other volunteers don't have to hang around for another 2 hours for me to limp through the course.
  • 4:45 PM I finally get changed after the podium ceremony, put my bike on to the roof Ran's (TACC) car, who graciously offered to drive me back to Tel Aviv. Only to realize 10 minutes later while we were waiting for Paz, who was also going to Tel Aviv, that someone had stolen the back U-Bolt that holds the bike rack down to the roof and we re-arrange everything so my bike can fit inside Ran's van.
  • 5:00 PM Actually leave, and hear about how I almost killed Paz over and over again on the way back to Tel Aviv.
  • 6:15 PM Get to my apartment and call Yaniv, who is my ride to the next days' racein the north. And we determine that I need to arrive at his house at 4:30 AM so we can make it with plenty of time for the 8am start. (NOTE: Ian was supposed to go with Yaniv, but found another ride because of my scheduling and rode15KM at 3:30 AM to get to his ride, THANKS MAN!)
  • 7:00-9:00 PM Eat dinner, pack my backpack for Saturday, make sandwiches and watch TV.
  • 9:30 PM Go to sleep.
  • 4:00 AM Wake up, spend 5 minutes extremely confused and bewildered, get dressed and leave. I walk outside and basically see tons of people who are still out "late" and get totally awestruck stares from them as I begin my 7km ride to Yaniv's Apartment. On the way, I realize that in the 11 hours since I had stopped racing, my legs hurt and the race was going to be painful.
  • 4:30 AM Arrive at Yaniv's, load up the car and hit the road.
  • 4:45-6:15 AM Drive up north to the start of the race.
  • 6:15-8:00AM Register, meet my teammates for the day, and roll around the parking lot, further confirming that I had not recovered in the least, in any way at all. I also learn, that despite being 23 I am in the "Masters" race because this is a team race. The only reason I was going was so that we had enough riders to start, as 6 are need to start, we only had 5, and 2 of them where under 24, but they let it slide. (NOTE: Team races are a stupid aspect of Israeli racing.)
  • 8:00-10:30 AM Pathetically race, get dropped on the first lap, get lapped by Ian (on lap 4 of 9 I think), but thoroughly enjoy the incredibly tough course, which was all big rolling hills, and twisty descents. Once I got dropped I went straight back to my ECCC roots and started acting goofy anytime I was near a camera:

  • 10:30 AM Drop out, hang out in the feed zone for a while and roll back to the start/finish on some AWESOME roads.
  • 11:45 AM Go to the podium and stand there, in 3rd place, despite my DNF, because I was on the VCI 2 Masters team, as two guys had done pretty well:
  • 12:30 PM Load up the car, wait around for a while to leave.
  • 12:45-3:30 PM Drive back to Tel Aviv with Yaniv, and have a nice, but expensive lunch along the way.
  • 4:oo-10:00 PM Eat food and lounge until I can barely stay awake.
So, in the span of 24 hours I did 2 races, traveled to the border of Lebanon and the mountains near Jerusalem, met a whole bunch of people, rode some amazing single track on my MTB, rode some fantastic roads with great scenery, raced for a new team, had a ton of fun, thoroughly destroyed my legs and dropped out of 2 races. Great weekend.