Mur de Huy

Mur de Huy

The Journal of Competitive Cycling -

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Two videos to enjoy....

The first is from stage 16 of the Tour de France and shows how frickin scary those descents can be. This shot is about 5km down the Col de la Bonnette (the highest pass in Europe at over 2800 meters altitude), where Barloworld rider John-Lee Augustyn missed a turn a nearly plunged to the bottom of the revine. I onnly post this because he was not hurt and was able to finish the stage (after getting a new bike).

Stage 16

The second is a really cool piece on spiders and the impact of various drugs on their web building capabilities.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Close call.....

Last weekend I put a new rack on the top of my car to carry the bike and wheels. I did this after checking my garage at work to make sure the clearance was high enough to allow a roof top rack. The sign said 8'2" so I figured I was in the clear. However, after picking up my bike from getting the cables replaced I put it on the rack in the garage and it just didn't look like it would clear the ceiling. In fact, it was significantly low. So I had to put the bike back in the back seat of the car and rethink my bike carrying strategy. (Turns out the 8'2" clearance is for like 5 spaces right inside the entrance, the rest of the garage is 7'0"). Anyway, I had to put the trunk rack back on to transport the bike when I parked in the garage, as I did yesterday.

Anyway, I was coming back from Greenbelt yesterday with the bike and wheel on the roof when I hit a bump on 495 while going about 80. All of the sudden I see my wheel flying off the back and fortunately getting caught in the trunk rack. I pulled over, threw the wheel in the back seat and went along.

I guess I got pretty lucky that I had that back rack on to catch the wheel. All in all it turned out to be pretty funny. Would not have been so funny if I lost my wheel. I would have loved to see the face of the person behind me...Yikes

Monday, June 30, 2008


Yesterday saw another very successful edition of the Reston Town Center Grand Prix put on by our club (Evolution Cycling). For me personally the RTCGP began on Saturday night as part of the set-up crew responsible for fencing off nearly the entire 1.25k course. We had a significant number of our team present and participating. The only down side was that many of us were there until around mid-night even though we were all racing the following day. A few of the guys with the earlier races headed home a little early but I decided to stick it out to the end. I got home and wound down and finally fell asleep around 1:30am (7 hours to race time), very shortly after that I was woken up by my 5 year old who came over to our room, I am not very good at falling back asleep after I wake up at was up for another 45 minutes or so. Around 3:15 (5.5 hours to race time) I was again woken up, this time by my wife who was searching the closet for sinus medication. Finally at 5:30 (3 hours to race time) I was woken up by our 3 greyhounds that needed to go outside. When letting them out I noticed that my stomach was feeling less than 100%, significantly less in fact because I got sick. I figured that my race plans were done for the day given the sick stomach and severe lack of sleep, but I decided to give it a go and at least get credit for the start.

After getting to the course and finishing set up (there were a few things that could not be done the night before) I set up the trainer in our team tent and began the warmup. About 15 minutes before the start they let us on the course for a few warm-up laps and I felt surprisingly good, although in my mind I was still going to pull out after a lap or 2. We all lined up and the race took off pretty fast. I was able to be around mid-pack into the first 2 turns and move up near the front going into the 3-4-5 combo (downhill is good for me). Coming off turn 5, which was set-up very smooth this year, I hit my first little uphill section and slid towards the back of the pack and hung on through the final sections of the course before repeating the process again on lap 2 and 3. Shortly after that, could have been based on my mindset, my right leg started to cramp and I began losing contact with the back of the group, especially on the uphill side of the course. I took about 3 fairly easy laps trying to get my leg to stop hurting and decided that I was not going to quit as initially thought. I was able to pull about 2 fairly hard laps at race speed and was feeling a touch better. By this time the field had lapped me, but I still had some people behind me. At one point my teammate Ted was off of the front and I was able to give him a breather through the downhill section, and surprisingly through turn 5 and 6. Ted was yelling encouragement and I was able to dig deeper than I thought I could and actually pulled Ted past about 6 people on the uphill section between 6 and 7 and he came around my left into wide open space and just hammered it.

This last initial effort basically caused me to completely pop and I guess it showed when I got around to the start/finish when the official whistled me off, although I was so spaced out I didn't realize that I was pulled and did another lap before it sank in.

Ted went on the win the race, so I will once again take some credit for it (ala Ride Sally Ride...ha ha ha).

Following a brief cool-down I secured my marshalling post and enjoyed the next 7 hours of racing.

All in all a great day.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Thoughts and Prayers.....

The president of our cycling team, a great friend and fellow racer, Craig "Doc" Clark, went down hard during Sunday's Wilmington Age-graded 50+ Crit Championship race. On the final lap of the race he got involved in an incident and was thrown over his handlebars and into a lightpost. He was transported to Christiana Hospital where he was diagnosed with severe head trauma. They induced an artificial coma to stabilize him and performed a body cat-scan. The doctors informed us that the next 24-48 ours were critical. However, on a good note, his heart rate and his blood pressure are normal and strong.

The thoughts and prayers of the entire racing community go out to Doc & his family in this time of need.

Monday, June 9, 2008

What a week......

Sunday morning I dropped my wife and son off at the airport for their two week trip to Japan and immediately headed home, grabbed my bike and headed down to Clarendon for the CSC Classic. Full day of volunteering and watching races combined with just over 40 miles of riding.

Monday I scheduled a bike fitting just to get some things checked out. Since it was scheduled for 11:00 I decided to blow off work in the morning and do some more riding. Got in about 35 miles before the fitting, about 10 miles to work after the fitting, and then another 15ish after work heading back home. About 60 miles for the day.

Tuesday I rode to work in the morning, grabbing about 10 miles, then after work headed to the Reston Bike Club ride. I was going to do a somewhat easy ride but shortly into the ride I dropped my pump and had to double back to pick it up. By the time I got it a gap opened up and I had to hammer to catch back on which basically fried me for the day. I kept with the group for about another 30-40 minutes after that until the sky turned incredibly black and simply opened up. I was absolutely drenched in about 30 seconds and had to be about as far from my house that the route went. I decided to take off from the group and head home. Total for the day ended up around 43 miles.

On Wednesday I was planning to do the Greenbelt race so I again rode into work (10 miles) and then rode a little bit at lunch to head home and pick up the car (another 10). Around 2:30 the skies once again opened up and a few tornadoes made visits throughout the are. The Greenbelt race was cancelled. By 4:30 the weather got very nice so I decided to ride out the the "Ride Sally Ride" course to do a little recon for the Saturday race. I left work and head out to the site, did several laps and then headed home to call it a day. Total for the day was just under 45 miles.

Thursday morning I rode into the office (10 miles) and had to leave early for my chiropractor appointment. Finished up with that and then had some co-workers over for a little grilling and drinking. So i only got 10 in for the day, but really needed a little break.

Friday I did some easy riding around the neighborhood to get used to the new "Le Wedge" that I put into my left cleat since the bike fitting revealed that my left femur was slightly longer then the right and as a result my left knee popped out a little on the up-stroke. I did about 15 easy miles getting used to that and getting ready for the race on Saturday.

Saturday morning I got up and headed out to Chantilly for the "Ride Sally Ride" race. I go tin about 15 miles of riding to the course (went out the trail and doubled back) and then did about another 30 minutes of warm-ups and felt pretty good about the race. Early in the race I decided to try to start a break down the left side, but at the same time a group of about 10 went off the right side. I jammed to get in with them and was able to hang for about 2 laps before dropping back into the pack. After a few laps in the pack I popped and got spit out the back but con tuned around the course for another 5-6 laps until one of my teammates, who was on a solo break came up from behind and yelled at me to jam it to give him so rest. Unfortunately I only had enough gas to take him about half way around a lap and then I was completely empty and pulled out with about 10 laps to go. He ended up winning the race so I am taking some credit (ha ha). After the race I rode to my teams t-ball game (I am the coach) which was about 5 miles from the race site. After the game I headed from there back to home for about another 12 miles. About 42 miles for the day.

Sunday bright and early I got up to bike marshall the Tour de Cure. For some reason I was assigned a route from Ashburn to Purceville and back, which I calculated around 40 miles. I had to ride from Herndon to Ashburn (10 miles) to start. I headed out on the route and made my scheduled stops in Leesburg and Purceville. Leaving Purceville I had some trouble with the cue sheet and ended up mixing in with the 100 mile ride which took me WAY away from where I was scheduled to be and WAY away from what was supposed to be a nice leisurely recovery ride. I ended up doing more climbing over the next 3 hours than I have done in quite some time. It was really nice country and excellent rides but the heat and the one empty water bottle were not allowing me to enjoy much of it. Fortunately we passed a little store at Snickerville and Airmont that allowed me to stock up on fluids and a power bar to finish the rest of the ride. We got the the rest stop in Round Hill and then I headed back 7 towards Purceville and picked up the trail to head back home. At the Leesburg rest stop I picked up a teammate who was also marshalling and we headed back home through Herndon and down Centreville Road. By the time I pulled into my garage I had clocked slightly over 100 miles (100.8) and was in the saddle (or at least near the bike) for 7 hours (I didn't stop it when I helped someone fix a flat or when we stopped for drinks).

So for the Sunday to Sunday period this past week I put in just over 350 miles. I am going to try really hard to not even look at the bike today.

Monday, June 2, 2008

CSC - Funny Pic

I got a great shot yesterdat at the CSC Invitational of Slipstream's Magnus Backstedt and Colavita's Luca Damiani. Maggie is 6'4" and weighs 210 while Luca stands 5'6" and is a mere 130lbs. I am guessing he got quite the draft from Maggie and used it to conserve energy and ultimately win the race.

There was a story in VeloNews that quoted Luca as saying “I was telling the guys before the race, I want to get in a break with B├Ąckstedt, because he is so big and I am so little. It would be funny,” said the Italian. “Then I thought, what am I doing in a break with B├Ąckstedt? This guy is going to kill me for sure.”

More later

Monday, April 28, 2008

April 23 - Fleche Wallonne

Wednesday morning arrived, I checked out of the hotel, went to the train station and headed towards Charleroi and the beginning of the Fleche Wallonne.

Upon arriving, I was able to find the staging area for the race and it was very cool to see all of the teams buses parked along the road with the bikes lined up and ready for battle. Many of the riders were hanging around and signing autographs and taking pictures with the fans or simply chilling out on the bus.

Here are some of my favorite pre-race pics, including Alejandro Valverde's saddle, David Millar, Erik Zabel, Carlos Sastre and a few others:

After the start of the race I headed back to the train station for the 45 minute ride to Huy and the finishing climbs.

As could be expected, the scene at the Mur de Huy was electric, there were people scattered all over this tiny little road through a neighborhood, that if it weren't for the Fleche Wallonne, would be completely unknown to all but it's residents.

I made my way up the climb and staked out a location to watch the riders pass. For the first pass I picked the spot I had rested the day day before as it gave a view of two parts of the climb. Once again, the helicopters overhead provided an indication of the arrival of the riders and the fans began to buzz.

For the first pass was uneventful and the second pass saw a lead group of about 20 with a 2 minute lead. Waiting for the third and final pass saw the skies begin to darken, a significant drop in the temperature and rain fall. Also had a nice surprise as the finish of the women's Fleche Wallone came by. You want to talk about some serious pain on the faces of riders, they looked cooked. The final results for the women saw Marianne Vos, the world champion just ahead of Nicole Cooke followed by Judith Arndt rounding out the podium.

About an hour later it was time for the big boys and the fireworks to ensue. I settled into my spot and awaited the telltale sound of helicopters. About an hour later it was there and through the rain, the lead lights of the moto cameras came around the bend followed very closely by Cadel Evans, David Rebellin, Damiano Cuenego, Kim Kirchen and a few others. As they went by my location Cadel surged ahead of the group but was shortly caught and passed by Kirchen who took the win.

One of the cool things was my brief appearance on television as the lead group went by, as evidenced by this screen shot from

All in all an amazing trip and a great time.

Thanks for reading