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

April 21 and 22 - Maastricht, Valkenberg & Huy

Monday, April 21
I woke up on Monday morning and felt refreshed and ready to go. I began the morning with a stroll trough the city of Maastricht in search of some breakfast and the local VVV (tourist information). The city was simply buzzing with people on bikes everywhere I looked, going to and from the train station to the university, the town shops and businesses, and seemingly just passing through. Bikes had to outnumber cars about 20 - 1.

The city itself is quite old world, and many of the buildings were over 500 years old. The river Muese splits the city in half and makes for some pretty nice images.

After getting a map and figuring out a rough route I headed back to the hotel to set out on my ride from Maastricht to Valkenberg to tackle the Cauberg.

I was able to piece together a few bike routes, some side streets, some country roads, and a brief illegal 3km on the autobahn (A79), to get to Valkenberg. Once there I traced the final 15-20k of the Amstel Gold Race up to the climb of the Cauberg. The length of the climb is around 1450 m, with a grade of 12% and I was actually surprised that I was able to complete it with out an excessive amount of effort. I was tired and was going quite slow, but I made it up and over nonetheless.

Following the climb I did the descent down the back side and then gradually made my way back to Maastricht in search of a shower and food, with a few brief stops along the way to take some photos, of course.

Tuesday, April 22
Tuesday morning brought about the big challenge of the trip, a journey to Huy and an attempt at the Mur de Huy (Fleche Wallonne). I loaded my bike and myself on the train in Maastricht and headed towards Huy, via Liege. I arrived in Huy around 11am and began to ride along the Muese taking in the scenery ranging from huge Belgian castles to power plants.

I put in about 70-75k rolling around Huy and surrounding areas before making my way to the dreaded climb of the Mur de Huy. The climb is about 1,300 m with an average grade of 9.3% and some sections around 26%. The route was already marked for the Fleche Wallonne (the following day) so I was able to track my progress. I followed the final 2km of the route with the climb beginning with around 1300m to go. From the 1K point I was able to make it to about 400m to go, right before the climb made a sharp left dead into the face of the 26% section. I came pretty close to simply falling over and actually had extreme difficulty walking up that section.

I am not sure the photos do it justice, but here they are:

At lastly, photographic evidence of my attempt

After making my way to the top and briefly remounting, I was met by a reporter and camera man and was able to struggle my way through an interview in French about my thoughts on the climb, how difficult it was, what the measurements were and about tomorrow's race in general. It was pretty cool, even though I couldn't breathe and was seeing stars.

On my way back down I found a nice bench and chilled out and enjoyed a snack and the scenery. I also got to see the Credit Agricole and Caisse d'Epargne teams doing recon, after seeing a few of the women's teams (British national) earlier in the day.

I made my way back to Liege and did some riding around the city and tried unsuccessfully to get towards Ans for the climb of the Cote de St. Nicolas (Liege-Bastonge-Liege), but couldn't get through the city, which was not a cycling friendly as the ones in Holland.

I finally made my way back to Maastricht, showered, packed my bike and headed out for some food

After dinner I headed back to the hotel, packed all of my stuff and got ready for the next morning's trip to Charleroi and Huy for the Fleche Wallonne.

April 20th - Amstel Gold Race

After grabbing about 2 hours of sleep in Amsterdam (the first 2 in about 30+ hours) I caught an early train and headed south to Maastricht. After a minor mishap in which I got off the train about 4 stops too soon I was able to get to my destination where I would set up base for the next few days. I arrived too early to check into my room but was able to leave my luggage and bike at the hotel before catching a train to Valkenberg and the Amstel Gold Race.

Once I arrived in Valkenberg the atmosphere was quite electric, all of the bars and restaurants around the base of the Cauberg were packed with people eating and drinking and watching the race progress as it made it's way there for the 3 climbs of the Cauberg.

I walked up and down the climb a few times to determine the best location to watch the race pass. I missed the first climb due to the train mix up but decided upon a spot around the 350m to go for the 2nd pass. As the helicopters began to appear overheard you could feel the buzz in the crowd and a few moments later the breakaway group arrived followed shortly by the peleton.

After the riders passed nearly everyone went either up or down the climb in search of more drink and food. I opted for a burger and some frites from one of the little pubs along the route. I was keeping clear of the beer because the stomach was not feeling too good that day.

After a short while (maybe and hour and a half) it was time to head back up and secure a spot to watch the final fireworks.

The final group was lead by Schlek, with Cuenego, Valverde and a few others close at hand. Shortly after passing my spot, Schlek attacked and wasn't able to hold off Cuenego who took the win, followed by Schlek and Valverde. It was quite cool to see it unfold right in front of you after watching it year after year on TV.

After the peleton came by I made my way to the top of the climb to try to catch the podium. I was not able to make it in time for the winners but did catch the presentation of the Pro Tour jersey to Cuenego.

I made my way back down the climb and headed to the train station to make my way back to Maastricht and the bed that awaited me for some good sleep for the first time in almost 3 days.

Of course the first action upon checking into the hotel room was to put my bike together and get ready for the riding the following day.....

April 19th - Amsterdam

I arrived in Amsterdam bright and early on Saturday morning and was able to leave my luggage and bike at the airport before heading into the city to meet up with one of my friends from the UK who was still recovering from the previous night there. The early part of the day was quite nice taking in the city, the canals, and the Van Gogh museum. My general impression was that I have never in my life seen som many 6 foot tall blonde girls riding bikes. The scenery was quite pleasant.

After the museum the drinking part of the day began (and it would not end for another 12+ hours). It started nicely at a small cafe near the museum and them moved to an outdoor seating area near a town square and then finally into a series of bars, pubs and restaurants. With an ample supply of belgian beer.

For some unknown reason I ended up being spanked in one bar by both the bartender and a random woman from an adjoining party.

After dinner, we headed down to the red light district and pretty much hung out until we called it a night. Other things happened but I prefer not to think or talk about them. Suffice to say, I have done Amsterdam and have no need to go back.

It is off to Maastricht, Valkenberg and the Amstel Gold Race.......

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Vacation time......

Well, my much anticipated trip to the Netherlands and Belgium is finally in sight and I am getting very psyched about it. The heavy dosage of the spring classics over the past few weeks has my very fired up to watch the big boys battle it out on the Cauberg during the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday (20th) and then again on the Mur de Huy during Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday (23rd).

Sprinkled in with the watching of the big boys are a few rides in and around Valkenburg (Cauberg), Liege, Huy (the 25% beast that is the Mur de Huy and possibly a day trip to the west to ride the cobbles of the Arenberg Forest and towards the Roubiax velodrome.

I am hoping that I will be able to catch some of the pro teams out and about doing their recovery/training/recon rides on Monday and Tuesday.

For the trip to be a success I am going to have to survive the very first day/night in Amsterdam with some friends coming over from the UK. Could get ugly.

Monday, April 7, 2008

A series of unfortunate events....

Well the much anticipated weekend of racing that officially kicked off the 2008 campaign for me ended in complete disappointment.

First out of the gate was the Tour of Walkersville on Saturday morining in beautiful Walkersville, MD. The weather forecast leading into the weekend called for relatively cold temps and consistent rain throughout the day so I got my mind prepared for those conditions. Turned out to be an absolutely gorgeus day, albeit windy as hell.

The 3/4 race had a somehwat ominous beginning when 3-4 people in front of me banged together during the neutral roll-out...IT IS A NEUTRAL ROLL-OUT PEOPLE!!!!.... Following that the race jumped immediately after entering the course (so much for the initial feeling out of a 40 mile road race). Heading into the wind on a slight uphill with rollers was a pretty decent wake up call, unfortunately I got stuck onthe right side of the road and managed to pinch my front tire between the side of the road and a drainage grate. The telltale psssst sound pretty much signlaed the end of my day before it even got going. I was fortunate in two regards following this incident 1) the nice lady that was marshalling the corner offered a tube and a pump so I was able to fix the tire and 2) the flat kept me out of the crash that followed not too long afterwards (taking down one of my teammates). After hopping back on I paired up with him and took a leisurely ride around the rest of the 8 mile course and enjoyed the scenery before calling it a day.

Day 2 of the weekend brought us the Tyson's Corner Crit, in not as beautiful Tyson's, VA. And the weather that was supposed to be with us at Walkersville managed to find it's way to Tyson's. It was rainy, windy, and just a bit cold (much like Tour of Flanders that was ongoing at the same time)....Following sign-in and warm-ups I made my way the start line with the rest of our team and awaited the opening whistle. Immediately following the "tweet" my first pedal stroke caused my chain to pop completely off and somehow get lodged between the small chain ring and the frame. To say that I was disgusted would have been quite an understatement because I ended up throwing my bike into the grass. Apparently it worked to unstick the chain and I was able to get it back on and was faced with the decision of simply strolling back to the car, warming up and calling it a day or trying to make a pointless effort to rejoin the field that was a good 2+ minutes gone. For some strange reason I opted for the latter and buried myself (as much as I can) to try to catch back on. I was never able to catch back on but did begin to pick up some off those that got spit out the back along the way. I made a few efforts to pull some teammates back into the mix before popping and riding out the end of the race. I didn't finish well (34th), but I did finish and was happy with that.

I would have thought that my bike was cursed given these events, but the fact that I used a different bike for each race puts that fear to rest.

I have decided that with upcoming vacations, and my 5 year old's busy schedule with hockey and t-ball, that I am taking the next 6 weeks off from racing and will attempt to build a second base for the end of the season races (June/July/August). We shall see how it goes.

Next up for me is a trip to Netherlands and Belgium for the Amstel Gold Race and the Fleche Wallonne and perhaps a few efforts up the Cauberg and Mur de Huy, possibly a trip across Belgium into France to give the Ardennes' Forest and Roubaix cobbles a go. Stay tuned for more

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Cold Toes - Part Trois......

Well today went pretty much as expected, except for the fact that I wasn't even really able to cover any early attacks, fortunately there weren't any. I felt like total crap from being sick all week and was only able to hang with the group for about 4 laps before falling off the back. After 2 laps of trying to catch up I was ready to quit but drove through it and was able to catch back on to those that also fell off the back. I made contact right about the same time that the leaders came back around to lap us. After another lap I was at the point of puking so I called it quits, headed to the parking lot, puked and was good to go. 2 weeks to get some sort of form before the Walkersville/Tysons weekend. We shall see how it goes.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Flu like symptoms....

I suppose I got a bit of what has been floating around here for some time now. I am not full blown sick, but simply feel like crap. As a result I have had precisely ZERO time on the bike this week although I have gotten in a little gym/cardio time. This dosen't really bode too well for this weekend's race but might tie in nicely with my plan of attack.

Hopefully with a forced week, or at least a few days of rest, I will be fresh enough to hit the beginning of the race hard and ride until I pop. I plan to try to cover any early attacks and take some pressure off of my teammates for as long as possible. In my current condition that may not be too long.

Maybe I can hope for rain and wind again.....

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Cold Toes-Part Deux

Saturday marked the second leg of our (Evolution Cycling) training race series. I actually felt pretty good this week and had a decent week of training and was looking forward to the race. The weather was considerably better this week than last and brought at a somewhat larger field. We had 5 guys on our side (Ryan, Chewy, Ugh, Spam, and me). I was feeling so good in fact that I went to my "quiver" before the race and picked out the Pinarello for the day.

Also found out that the race was going to run counter clockwise today, as opposed to clockwise last week, so I made sure I got in some extra training laps to get used to the new layout. The first noticeable thing was that the first turn went straight into a headwind which I knew would cause some separation in the pack, a corner is bad enough, but a corner into the wind is not good. Anyway, the race began and I started near the back, wasn't in the mod to get to the line 10+ minutes early just to get a front spot. As the field headed towards the first corner I moved up a few spots on the inside and was getting towards the middle of the pack to get some coverage into the headwind along the back. As the group approached the final turn into the tailwind finish line I moved up on the left side a passed a number of people to get near the top 10 going into the first corner again. I had good positioning and was ready to settle into the pack when the two riders in front of me touched wheels. And when I say touch, that is a bit of an understatement. The one guys rear deraileur ripped spokes from the other guys front wheel before it loked like it ripped off itself. I had to get on the brakes hard and unclip to prevent piling into them. No one in the group went down but after I clipped back in and got going, the peleton was about 100 meters away and I was inthe headwind by myself. I stepped it up to try to catch back on and made contact into the final turn when everyone jumped towards tthe finish line. I lost contact and that was where I was going to stay the rest of the race. Being a training race I just kept my pace steady and rode out the last 6-7 laps, picking up an occasional rider here and there as they popped off the back.

The one good thing about being dropped off the back in that turn was that I missed the crash in the next turn that took a few people out. One guy from PoWER went down pretty hard and had some road rash to show for his day. He seemed to be doing well post-race so that is always a good thing.

The third and final episode of the Cold Toes Trilogy is next weekend, we shall see how it goes. Evo should be out in full force with our new kits. Should be a good time.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Daylight Savings Time!!!!!!!!!!

I am so happy that DST is finally here. It has me back in the bike for the commute to and from work which means at least an extra hour a day in the saddle (actually on the road as opposed to the trainer). The main reason that I shut it down is that I honestly dislike riding in the dark. I don't trust myself, don't trust others, and especially don't trust the harmless looking woodlands creatures that I know are just waiting to F with me (WHERE IN THE HELL DID THAT DEER COME FROM?????).

Although the training has not been going well, I am starting to see some improvements, albeit minor. I had my fastest commute this morning without doing too bad on the HR. Again, I am not going to be a factor in any races in terms of being in the top of the field, but I am going to finish races, which is really my main goal for the year.

I am keeping a close eye on the scale and may very well dip below the 200 mark by this weekend. I have been able to successfully put 205 out of the way and lower the bar. I am hoping to be around 195 or 190ish by the time the racing season really gets going and approaching 185 to 180 by the end of the summer. Watch out next year once I am able to put it all together and keep it together.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Nothing to write home about......

but good enough to blog, I suppose.

Yesterday kicked off the official beginning of the race season for me with the inaugural running of the Cold Toes Training Series in Chantilly, VA. This is an event put on by our club (Evolution Cycling). We had pretty miserable weather which reduced the turnout, but added a certain level of fun to the race. It was pretty much cyclocross conditions for a road race.

After arriving at the event to help get the registration tent set up, fence and cone off the course, and lend a hand with sweeping the corners. I reluctantly shifted into race mode and began warming up. I term I use very loosely here because there is not much actual warming up that accompanies temps in the low 40's with a consistent downpour. I did a few laps of the course, which is quite nice by the way, and then headed back to the team tent for some laughs and to dry up a little. This was followed by a few more laps and another return to the tents. Finally start time arrived and the field set out for the wet, wet race.

Back in December when I set out my goals for this coming season, this race was the first measurable goal on the list, with the simple notation to finish. I know, a stretch goal right out of the box, shooting for the stars, etc. But as previously discussed I don't have high expectations for this season, even lower with my dismal training over the past 3 months.

Anyway, I was able to ride in the main pack for the first 4 to 5 laps before my legs started to tighten up (either from the lack of warm up, the cold weather, or a lack of training....probably a combination of all of the above). Since this was designated as a training race I decided to sit up and "soft pedal" and wait for the field to come back around to catch back on. For some strange reason this took 2 laps to accomplish, I guess I wasn't pedaling soft enough. I managed to catch back on and ride with them for another lap or two and then tried to go when someone attacked on the back and had nothing to respond with. From there I simply cruised the last 2 laps with another rider, chatting about the race and the weather. True groupetto style.

I crossed the line about 10 meters behind the race winner (albeit 1 lap down). There may be some decent photos that I can lie about in the future.

I tried to get warm and then assumed my post marshaling the final corner for the next two races and trying to warm up. All in all it was a decent day for me and the results were a top 20 finish, 17th in fact (I won't mention the field size, but it was more than 20). Goal number 1 accomplished, but it felt like that 80 you got on a paper when you needed a B in the class. Just barely enough to count, but it counts nonetheless.

On a more positive note, my rear wheel enabled a teammate to win the A race. Who knew my wheel was really that fast...hmmmmm.


Friday, March 7, 2008

Performance without Practice.....

Well, my first race of the season is but a day away. Albeit simply a "training" race it is a race nonetheless and I am not sure how I will fare. I honestly have to admit that I do not have very high expectations going into this race as my training has been no where near the level that I would have liked it to be. I gave in much too easily to the minor bouts of illness and numerous other "excuses" over the past few months. With all that being said I feel that I am in much better shape now than I have been for the past several years and am anxious to see how it plays out over the course of the season. Rightly or wrongly I am planning on hitting it especially hard in the coming weeks to "get ready" for the start of the real season on the 5th of April at the Tour of Walkersville followed by the 6th of April at the Tysons Crit.

I am truly hoping that my history plays out in my favor as I have NEVER been one to prepare ahead of time for an event, this includes rehearsing before speeches/presentations, studying for exams, warming up on the range before a round, etc. etc. etc and have always fared quite well. I seem to operate better on the fly and often feel that I would leave my best on the practice field and not have it at game time. Something tells me that this will not apply to cycling, but we shall see. If it doesn't work I will simply head back to the drawing board, find a source of motivation from somewhere, and hit the second half of the season with a fury.

I am partially guessing that a little dose of the motivation that I will need will be coming in late April when I head over to the Netherlands and Belgium for some riding and to catch some of the Classics (Amstel Gold Race and Fleche-Wallonne). I rode the motivation from watching a couple of stages of the 2005 Tour de France in the French Alps (mostly around Galibier) into an interest in cycling and getting my ass into shape.

Starting a cycling career at 39 (hitting 41 at the end of the month) isn't the way to go and I have very little expectations in terms of results. I just want to have a good time, mix it up a little, and hopefully help a teammate along the way.

It all starts tomorrow.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Addio Marco.....

Si sono sbagliati. Today marks the 4th anniversary of the passing of Marco Pantani, Il Pirata. In my mind Marco was one of the greatest cyclist of my generation and his double (Giro d'Itlaia and Tour de France) in 1998 are unlikely to be repeated with today's specializations among racers.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Monday, January 7, 2008

A big mistake

Well, what is the worst possible things you can do after being sick for the majority of a week, missing several scheduled workouts, aaaaaand being on medication??????? The anwer is to try to participate in a team ride when the weather is in the low 20's. How do I know this? Because I was dumb enough to try it.

I knew I was in for a bad day when my heart rate was already in Zone 2 before I even climbed on the bike. I was able to have a fairly easy ride to RTC to meet the rest of the team, got there a little early but had time to have a nice tea to warm up. We had a group of about 8 that was heading West to pick up others along the way but I only made it to the OD Brewery turn off and just wasn't "feeling it". I decided to abandon at that point and head home, which turned out to be a good idea since I spent the majority of the day laying on the couch because I couldn't breathe from the congestion.

Oh well, lesson learned. If you are sick, don't ride (especially in the f'n cold)