Saturday, June 30, 2007

F-L Road Race

58 mile Road Race (5 laps on a 11.4 mile course plus finish up Mt. Wachusett auto road)
Masters 35+
27th Overall GC

Dangit! That’s all I can say.
This race is pretty much the only opportunity one can advance his overall standing as the hillclimb at the end separates the climbers out of the group. If you finish fast, you can move up the GC ladder by beating guys higher up than you. Last year, I leaped from somewhere in the top-40 to top-20 with a 10th place finish. So, I was looking towards this race with great anticipation, hoping to finish equally well and hoping to land in the top-15 in GC. The best laid plans…
Today’s weather was perfect for a race albeit a little windy. We rolled out and quickly got into a nice rhythm and quickly caught the Cat. 3 group that had started 5 mins. ahead of us. The pace was tolerable and I was keeping myself protected in the front of the group. The course is surprisingly hilly with a stiff climb through downtown Princeton and a long false flat to the base of the summit road (we bypass this road until our final lap when we ascend it to the finish). It does have a screaming descent as well because what goes up must come down. My max speed on the downhill was 51mph!
As we hit the Princeton climb for the second time, we were neutralized as the Cat. 3’s got their act together and passed us. Later on the same lap, we were red-flagged as the juniors roared by, no doubt catching us because we had to wait for the 3’s to pass. Once we got racing again, the pace picked up, especially on the hills. I got caught taking it a little easy on the Princeton climb and a gap formed between me and the lead group. I dug deep and chased back on, but that was one effort I wasn’t counting on making. The climbs on the 4th lap were equally attacked and a split formed from the pack. I was lucky enough to be with the leaders, but I was at just about maximum effort. A twinge in my hamstrings told me I was going hard, little did I know this was a warning signal.
We hit the final lap as a group of maybe 50 riders I think. I learned from last year to be sure to be towards the front on the final climb in Princeton as there’s a tendency for the pace to get very high as the leaders push the pace to the base of the climb. Sure enough, it was like a hillclimb sprint. I gave it all I had and managed to be right at the tail end of the group, which was now only about 35 strong. As we hit the false flat I hoped the pace would stabilize, but it didn’t. Some riders were actually attacking and the pack had to respond. I was doing fine just hanging in, when suddenly both hamstrings seized on me. It came out of nowhere and forced me to soft pedal a bit to recover. Well, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. The pack was motoring and there was no time to coast, but I had no choice. I dejectedly watched them continue on without me and make the turn up the mountain. Thankfully, the cramping ceased and I was able to go at my own pace, albeit solo up the hill to muster the best finish and time I could manage given the conditions. Dangit, I was hoping to do better. But, clearly the effort leading up to the climb was a bit more than I could handle, so I must take solace in the fact that I went hard, and am in the position that I deserve.
Sorry no pics today, just envision my pain!
Next up is the criterium where I hope to just hang on.

Friday, June 29, 2007

F-L Circuit Race Report

28 mile Circuit Race (9 laps on a 3.1 mile course)
Masters 35+
Start line (juniors lined up)

Today’s race was not without drama, but it occurred on the last lap so I’ll get to it later. Phenomenal weather greeted us at the start line consisting of sunny skies, 70’s and no humidity. The course had a flat section with a few turns into a screaming downhill then a sharp right-hander to a 2-tiered climb to the finish. As much as the course has to offer, it’s impossible to get away so there’s never any change in the overall GC as the pack stays together by virtue of the long descent. The fact that the average speed was 28mph should clue you into the torrid pace of the pack. One can only hope to compete for a stage win, and he’s generally the first guy into the final corner. We go from 3 lanes wide to a right turn onto a 2-lane side road. It’s tense to say the least.
Hillclimb finish (Cat. 3s)

So, we rode safely together for 8 laps, knowing that the final lap was going to be the deciding factor. I was intent on staying in the top-20 in the group and was successful in doing so until the final lap. For whatever reason, on the 8th lap climb I got shuffled back and was deep in the field on the last lap. This was not good. I knew I had to be up front to a.) earn a good finish and b.) stay out of trouble. After the climb I pushed it on the flat, ate up many positions on the turns, then took a line along the edge of the road and found myself right on the leaders’ wheels. My sense of security was short-lived, however, as the pack soon swarmed around us and we began the speedy descent to the final turn. I wanted to be on the outside line to carry momentum into the turn, but I was smack dab in the middle of the field with riders 4 deep on either side of me. I stayed patient, and waited for small openings to emerge and slowly crept to the outside. I didn’t care if I had to battle some headwind, I just wanted out of that pack! I finally got outside when I heard a bang to my right and then the sickening sound of carbon and metal crashing onto asphalt. Wheels touched in the middle of the pack and suddenly riders were down.
Dude involved in the crash in decent spirits

I didn’t look back, just ahead and entered the corner on the outside just as I had hoped albeit a little further back than I would have liked. I hit the hill with all I had and finished grateful I wasn’t involved in the wreck, but wishful for a little better finish.
Next up is the road race with Mt. Wachusett climb finish.
Rad PINK Indy Fab ridden by a DUDE!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

F-L TT Report

6.55 mile Time Trial
Masters 35+

No pictures other than this one I snapped for my boy Fenix en-route to the race.
Who would have thought there would be a skidder in Fitchburg? Reminds me of home!

Arrived in Boston late last night and had a difficult time sleeping in anticipation of starting the weekend off right. Never had a chance to ride yesterday to get the legs going, so I was curious to know what kind of performance I would turn in. My plan was to get in a good warm up of at least 30 minutes and hit the line raring to go. Well, the best-laid plans always go to waste! Once again, I arrived in plenty of time to get ready. But somehow the time just flies! I got in less than 20 minutes and hit the road as the start was over a mile away from parking.
I drove the course last night, and was pleased to discover it was a climber, gaining 600' in 5 miles. I debated momentarily whether to use the Aegis TT bike or not, but rationalized the descents were fast enough where aerodynamics would play a role. Today was a warm one and there was a majority headwind, but everyone has to ride it so no reason to stress about it. The timer gave me the go and I went, trying to lay off full throttle for the beginning so as to find a groove and cruise later. There was a quick hill, so it was difficult to stay in the low zone. My heart rate was quickly in the 180's where it would remain. I rode my pace until the guy who started 30 seconds behind came up one me! Doh! Was I really going that slowly despite my heart rate?! I buckled down and was determined to at least keep him in sight, assuming he was probably a fast rider. The plan worked and I passed a couple of guys who started ahead of me, but I could never close the gap on the guy who passed me. I finished as strong as I could and glanced at my time which was 19 minutes and change based on my computer. When I looked at the preliminary results already posted, I thought I was in real trouble. There were sub-18 minute times and even a 17.09 (this was eventually the winning time thankfully). There were many other riders to go so I was not too optimistic I would improve upon last year’s 38th place. Needless to say, I was pleased to see my placing which means I don’t have as far to go to make up time.
I really don’t know what I could have done differently, but I have huge respect for TT specialists like Matt Moore. These events are an act of self-abuse!
Tomorrow is the circuit race where it’s unlikely there will be much change in the overall unless there were TT specialists in there who can’t ride in a pack.

Fitchburg Longsjo Stage Race

I plan to provide daily post-race updates.

Check out what I'm bringing to the TT party:

Thanks to the consummate good-guy Aegis owner Pete Orne, I'm rolling his personal T2.
Also, thanks to fellow Kents Hillian Matt Moore, I'll be decreasing wind resistance on my melon with his helmet

People seem to like taking pictures of their loaded cars so I'm not about to dissappoint. This is my race caravan. Lifejackets hopefully won't be needed until I'm on the Cape with the fam!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

NECS #3/MMBA #2 Race Report 6/24

1st Expert Vet I
4th Overall (I think)

This was my 3rd mtb race of the season, first in the Maine series. Not exactly my favorite course as the climbing is negligible and the terrain technical and consistently rough. I pre-rode the course on Saturday and was pleasantly surprised with the dry conditions. It was wet and muddy last year, adding to the challenge. A semi adverse by-product of the dryness was the fact that the trail rode very rough. All roots and rocks were exposed and harsh. I was extremely happy to be riding full suspension. Even then it was still bone jarring at times. I left feeling pretty prepared. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t enjoy the racing, but at least I could ride everything.
Sunday’s weather was primo, sunny and 70’s. I headed down early and Babs and the boys arrived in time to see the finish and run the kids’ race. They then headed south to the Cape. I don’t know where the time goes before a race! I arrive over 1 hour before the event, yet still find myself shortchanging my warmup time. I rode maybe 15mins. Before heading to the start line, this was way insufficient especially given this course’s singletrack nature and a good start key to success. Oh well, I was 2nd row and went off with the group as prepared as I could get. Luckily, the start is on a dirt road climb, although there are some more preferable lines. I hit the climb and passed as many as I could before it got singlefile. I believe I was top-5 in the woods. The start was staggered as 2 other groups began ahead of us at 1 min. intervals. Well, it didn’t take more then 5 mins until we piled into the rear of the 2nd group. Traffic would be the story for the rest of the day.
Pro Michael Patrick literally jumped ahead of me and made headway plowing through people. I also knew Matt Boobar and Aaron Millet were ahead, but I stuck with my gameplan of racing the course and not others, a strategy learned from NASCAR! I also didn’t let the traffic affect my attitude. Everyone else had to fight though it as well and I wasn’t about to run people off the course or put myself in a compromising line around them. So, patience and persistent pedaling was the theme for the day and it paid off. Things strung out pretty quickly and I just focused on the course in sections at a time: hitting the open areas hard to make time, recovering on the easier singletrack, and keeping upright on the bike and getting through technical sections as smoothly and efficiently as possible. I had 1 incident where I ran up the rear of a lapper who couldn’t make a step up and had to take evasive get off the bike action, but otherwise rode smoothly. If I had to get off I did, not worrying about style points, but I was off the bike far less than before. Big Al was a real motivator as he was glued to my rear for the first half of the race. There were so many Bikemen out there I thought I was seeing things or getting lapped! I met Racin’ Rick heading into the 3rd lap and then set my sights on other in my group. I spied Aaron 2/3 into the lap and worked on gaining ground. He seemed to slip by lappers effortlessly so it took a while for me to actually catch up. The timing was right when we hit the climbs back to the start/finish and I accelerated past him wanting to be first in the technical stuff for the final lap to ride my own race. I rode the final lap cautiously hard and kept Aaron at bay despite having to contend with passing the Sport riders. I appreciate their good naturedness and willingness to let us pass. It’s not their fault they were getting overtaken. I think it was a product of too many racers on too small a course. I also passed Boobar who experienced a mechanical which relegated me to 1st place which motivated me to go a little harder at the end. I was happy to see Babs and the boys at the finish and am pleased with the result and my time in comparison with the pros in the field. My laps averaged 23 mins. But, I know the first was 25 so traffic was the big story there.
So, I come away with lots of confidence. I have to credit the Kona Hei Hei with at least 50% of the success. I am very comfortable on it and the full suspension is a huge energy saver. I spend far less mental and physical energy going around obstacles, I go through them instead! It’s durability is also impressive as this was as hard as I’ve ridden it yet and it’s still kicking.
The whole Wheelden team was there and Drake and Fenix both raced a course equally tough as the one we rode. Everyone earned a podium spot as Drake was 2nd and Fenix 3rd, not that it matters! They both rode hard and pedaled right to the end on the Kamikazee downhill.
Next up is 4 days of road racing hell as I battle in the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic Stage Race.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Wheel weights

In a less-than-perfect environment, I weighed my 3 different road wheelsets to see if there was a glaring advantage as I plan for the Fitchburg Longsjo stage race this weekend. Here are the results without taking tire or skewer choice into consideration:

Shimano Tubeless (12-27cogset)
F: 1000g
R: 1480g
Set: 2480g

Mavic Open Pro 32 hole w/Shimano Dura Ace hubs (12-25)
F: 1020g
R: 1400g
Set: 2420

Mavic Ksyrium ES (12-25)
F: 1000g
R: 1400g
Set: 2400g

It all makes sense I guess. There's a slight weight progression from the tubeless to the higher quality wheelset. But, clearly not enough to worry about, freeing me up to choose the appropriate wheels for any given event. I think I'll go with this:

Circuit race: tubeless
Road race: Ksyrium with 12-27 cogset for Mt. Wachusett climb
Crit: Open Pro

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Next generation

Fenix started skating lessons yesterday. He's going to be dangerous with a hockey stick in hand!

Summer on Ice

This is what I was doing last week:
Day 1: 1/4" of ice
Day 2: Paint ice/lines/logos
After 2.5 days of flooding, it's time to skate!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Easy Riding

I had an "off week" last week that comprised of 1 hour recovery rides every other day. It was refreshing to chill a little after hard training and racing up to the Auburn races. Here are some shots I took on 1 of my rides while visiting my mom on the Cape. The bike was Al's. A beauty metal matrix Specialized hybrid. Perfectly fun for just such an occassion.

Nice to ride where stores outnumber deer for a change. Note water bottle holder now hosts a Starbucks' tall latte!

El Dorko strikes again! Hard to dress for "casual riding" It was an unexpected 54 degrees so had to sport the soccer warm-up jacket!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Weekend OFF!

Friday: I participated in the annual Jeffrey Parola Memorial Golf Tournament with a few fellow KHS staff.

Saturday: 2 hour mtb ride at Bradbury ranks as 1 of my top 5 all-time rides. This area has emerged as a phenomenal riding area for all abilities. Thank you to all who work on the trails there. I rode a 2 mile section that was built the night before and was mint! It just doesn't get much better than being able to ride 60mins of singletrack without retracing your steps. Well, maybe 61mins would be better! There were several bikers out there inlcuding MMBA guru Mary Longhofer with a couple of former Team 6-pack members. There were also 2 gals riding Konas, so that was cool.

Sunday: The pictures say it all. A mint day spent with the boys!

Maine Cycling Weekend Race Report 6/1-2

RR 9th/21 Masters 35+
Crit 9th/31 Cat. 3
Crit 11th/36 Masters 35+

It’s taken me over a week to write this report! I think I’m still feeling a little burned by the way the races evolved into fairly unexciting results. I headed into the weekend at the end of a build period, but felt very good physically and my confidence and expectations were high.
The racing began Saturday afternoon under muggy conditions with rain threatening. Turns out fellow PVCers did an earlier race so it was going to be difficult to organize a strategy.
Fred Thomas solos to victory somewhere in there!

I committed to positioning myself at the front and go with any break that occurred. This ultimately proved to be my undoing. Heavyweights Yabroudy and Bold were in the pack and I knew these were the guys to watch and go with. Well, I went every time they launched an attack, which was about 6 times, and this was only the first lap! Unfortunately, they never maintained their pace and the pack eventually was always brought up to us. So, I figure this is getting old, and tiring, and I let them go the next time. Well, guess what happens? They keep going and the race for 1st and 2nd is effectively over! So, the remainder of the race is basically a pack ride. We got rained on pretty heavily about midway through, but it was kind of refreshing. On the 3rd lap I had some serious hamstring cramping no doubt due to the hard early efforts and a lack of replenishing the body so I drifted to the back for a spell and downed Heed and H2O. I came around OK heading into the 4th lap and a few of us finally organized a small break, but the pack wouldn’t let it materialize. Funny, they chase us down, but not the other guys which is frustrating. So, it came down to a sprint finish. The last mile or so had a good climb and then a long straightaway to the line. I had hoped I could hit the hill hard and then breakaway, but my legs were not cooperative and I actually was mid-pack at the top, just holding on. Everyone came together as we prepped for the sprint. Foolish me ends up back towards the front. Teammate Abramson came up so I sat in behind him hoping this could be the first use of team strategy for me. Well, that would have been nice if I followed him. I was way too eager and could not keep myself disciplined enough to stay back. Instead I drift to the front again while everyone drafts behind me. It’s not like I was going hard, but this was just the beginning of my stupidity! I thought I was feeling really rested and ready to sprint so I start to take off. Problem was, it was way too early and I basically lead everyone else out earning me a very mediocre result given how hard I worked all day. Oh well, tomorrow at the crits was going to be different, right?
Hi, I have no road race strategy!

Wrong! I signed up to run the Cat. 3 and Masters races to get a good workout in. Luckily after an ice bath and excellent meal thanks to Babs the night before and a good warmup on race day my legs were feeling OK. I like this course because it has a stiff, short climb in it where an attack can be launched if you feel so inclined. The Cat. 3 race was first which I wanted to treat as a warmup for the Masters event. Well, pit me against another rider and there’s just no holding back! So much for going easy. Instead, I ended up driving the loco train again.
Why am I not sucking wheel?!

A breakaway of 2 riders ensued early in the event and they contested for the first prime. I hung around the front of the pack and took some turns pulling, but didn’t overstress myself. We reeled in one of the breakers then another guy and I took off from the pack for a moment and I saw the leader was within reach and a prime was at stake so I took off after him and it was a photo finish for the prize, but he got it by less than a wheel.
My only chance for glory. The pack isn't even in sight! STOOPID!

It’s at this point I should have kept going and made a break for it myself. The other guy was gassed and I had a good gap on the field. But, my inexperience showed through again and I sat up. The pack regrouped and we rode around for a few laps when another solo attack was launched on the hill. Again, the pack and I just watched and the race for first was over as we never materialized a response despite my pleadings and efforts at the front. So, another sprint finish ensued and I was left thinking what could have been again. Damn, where’s my mountain bike?!
I had put in a solid effort and knew I would have nothing for the Masters race so I was content to sit in this time and let everyone else worry about attacks. Thomas and Abramson were racing so I suspected they might do some scheming, but I wasn’t going to be any help. The race started with a bang as the pack went singlefile from the gun. It was all I could do to hang on the back, but I was able. I really don’t know what went on up front as I just made sure I stayed in the draft. Naturally, it came down to a sprint finish. This result turned out to be my most satisfying as I did little to earn it except pass a bunch of people in the last 50 yards! Road racing is funny isn’t it?
Babs and the boys were good sports and came to spectate (and photograph, thanks Babs). The carnival next door was a bonus for the boys. Drake had a solo roller coaster ride and Fenix was way too nervous to do any rides!

Well, I have a couple of weeks of rest to flush this weekend from my mind.
Next up is my first MMBA event @ Biddeford.