Saturday, November 30, 2013

Welcome to Winter: A Season Recap and Looking Ahead.

Well well well.  Here we are again.  Winter is upon us. The time of year most folks have put their bikes away for the season and pulled their skis down to get sharpened to do the other stupid sport of skiing.  Someone had the idea to fly down a mountain on sticks.  What will happen when we crash?  We'll figure it out later.

Don't get me wrong, I love skiing.  I also love biking.  That said, when I think of the situation when I have to explain to someone "what is skiing," or "what is biking" the simple explanation always cracks me up.  Where skiing is sticks to snow, biking is wheels to the tarmac, dirt or wherever your steed takes you.

Anyways.  You're here because you're curious, not to hear about how the season went, but to hear stories about the season and the goings on within cycling.  I'll stop blabbing on and get right too it... afterall, it was an exciting year, what with flipping over a bridge in the early season only to get back on the bike and get some stellar results.  To avoid repetition below is a small early season recap, followed by a more detailed account of the season from Barre Grand Prix and beyond.

As many of you know who have stumbled here before, I flipped over a guardrail on a bridge in early May.  While the physical damage was minimal, it took some mental recovery before I was really ready to race.  Racing the Barre Grand Prix, while a simple race with easy corners I noticed myself fairing away from close contact to other riders and not taking the risks and chances I needed for the elusive Big Dubbya.  Beyond Barre, I had a summer of great training.  Venturing up Bolton Notch Road once a week as part of a 60-80 mile ride and many chances to redevelop the mental nerve (or lack there of) to get that there yonder sledge a swingin' (re read that a few times until you get the accent that is meant to go along with it.. you'll get it.  Laugh when you do.  Clown.).

It wasn't until the Green Mountain Stage Race I was able to find my stride and swing away at the attacks of my competitors.  Jared, a former teammate from Onion River Racing and all around stellar dude (one might even say "what a mensch"), was the goal for myself and other riders during the GMSR.  We wanted him in the Green Jersey (Sprint Leader).  In order to make this happen, the strongest riders of our collective would need to follow every attack, every breakaway and guard Jared from trouble.  I am proud to say we were able to keep him in the Green through Day 3, and up until the finish of Day 4.

All days of racing were hard, day 2 being the most fun, riddled with attack after attack.  It was not a race for the lazy.  Off the gun Jared was away with two other riders.  I was able to bridge up and provide some welcomed help to keep the break away and start racking up points on the lap.  Once we were caught, more attacks went and I ended the day with an 11th place.  The inbetween is fuzzy now... being November and all.

There is not much more to tell from the season.  There was some cyclocross, and some mountain biking, but thats about it.  We are into ski season now and the focus is already on to next season.  Training is going well, coming off a rest week and back into some base training.  I am hoping to kick the season off with Battenkill and Myles Standish.  From there, the sledge will be swung and hopefully a Dubbya will be found.  Until then, I am going to making a fool of myself this winter... outside of the usual antics, I will be racing Nordic this winter and attempting Biathlon.  At least, that's the plan.  Racing is Tuesday Races at Stowe, Wednesday Races at Sleepy Hollow, Friday Slaloms at Cochrans.

Busy busy busy...

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Catching up....

Looks like it's been a while and there's a lot to catch up on.  To keep the list short, there are many things on the horizon.  The past few months have been full of ups and downs.  Not limited to recovering from a near fatal accident, some terrible racing, and some fantastic riding.  Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

So, I'm sure you've been wondering, what near fatal accident or when are we going to hear what happened that lead to this picture...

The Crash

WELL.  Here's the short version.... While on a UVM training ride over the 6 big gaps over Vermont, while passing through the flats along route 15 between Roxbury and Randolph, a rather large rock came from under a riders wheel.  Said rock managed to throw my front wheel juuuuuuuust right, so that I went careening towards the guard rail.  Oh, and did I mention that said guard rail was a bridge?  In case I failed to mention this, said guard rail was a bridge.  With the sudden impact of the rail, I skidded along the rail o so briefly while still traveling at 25mph until the sectioning of the rail caught my seattube and launched me over.
Bumpy wrist two months
after the accident.
Small scar from road rash
two months after the crash.
Bumpy not broken wrist
within an hour of the crash

Mid Crash and Post Crash

Being extremely aware of my impending doom, I was able to spot the concrete abutment and know I would need to grab onto whatever I could as to not plummet to my death on the granite face below.  From previous experience in falling (TKD), I tucked my head, rolled and grabbed onto whatever I could to stop myself.

Opening my eyes, I saw my glasses on the edge of the abutment, and then the granite face leading to the river below.  My first reaction was to throw myself back, and hold on to something further than inches from the edge of the ledge, such as the guard rail I had just so recently flipped over.  Quickly catching my breath, I checked myself for injuries and fellow riders came to my side to make sure I was alive and not snapped in multiple man nugget sized pieces.

My injuries were majorly minor.  I managed to get away with a somewhat (and still concerning-ly swollen) left wrist (doctors say not broken....) and major road rash and bruising along my right leg.

I still have yet to get my groove back.  Racing hasn't been the same.... not just the lack of desire to travel by my self, but the fear of crashing is a larger reality than it was in the past.  For the time being, until I regain my nerve 100%, I have been able to enjoy some fantastic company riding that I otherwise would not have.  Found in recreational riders, and the fabled and "dangerous" triathlete who is said to never be trusted on a bike.  Much to my surprise, they make fantastic riding buddies, no matter how strange their attire may be.... with those helmets... and goon scooters.

The Race(s)

I haven't done any racing since I crashed.  Nothing beyond local racing where my showing has been the definition of pitiful.  Where my fitness is better than it ever has been and many months before being peaked, my nerve has not returned since crashing.  Riding so close at high speed near so many people who have competition in their heads is not allowing me to control my muscles in the way they need to be controlled in order to perform.

That said, I was able to post a 12th, 3 weeks after my crash, but nothing since then.  The course was the Barre Grand Prix, where we had our first team showing.  It was great to see the #plaid out on the road in it's competitive glory.

As for myself, the other races have been part of the local GMBC Criterium Series every other Tuesday.  My performance has not been what I need it to be in order to confidently go into a race and say, "Yea, I can win," even if I don't actually pull off the big dubb-ya.

In Other News

I have enjoyed some great riding... rather than write about it, here are a bunch of photos and the places they were taken.  Included are also maps of late glorious rides in Vermont.

Until next time...
Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Racing Against Murphy's Law - Quabbin Reservoir Road Race 2013

In cycling, there are days in which Murphy's Law is in full effect.  For those unfamiliar with Murphy's Law, it is simply "everything which can go wrong, will go wrong."  Now that we are all caught up, let me explain the relevancy of this law to the Quabbin Reservoir Road Race.

In a field of 150, things are bound to get stretched out and people are going to be tense.  While I would generally see a field of 150 an exciting thing, because of the early season manner of the race, my feeling of most of the riders was an on edge sort of mentality.  Because of this, there were a lot of unnecessary movements... and crashes.

Those who read last post remember my mechanical which cost me the race.  Well this time, it was something a bit more which separated me for the field.  Two crashes, the first at mile 5, and the second around mile 20.  The first, was nothing major... for me anyways.  I cannot speak for those involved.  From what I heard, wheels were crossed and pavement kissed.  No no... I am referring to the second crash around mile 20 which took half the field out of contention including myself.

Now now... put your mind at ease.  I did not crash.  However, I was just behind the crash, and by some  magical bicycle handling... I was able to bob and weave through the carnage to continue on.  To be more specific, within about 15 seconds, I had to duck a flying wheel, jump an additional skidding wheel, jump a skidding frame and maneuver my bike around a skidding person as well; all at about 20-30mph.

By the time I got through the wreckage, the remainder of the field, being about 50% by my count, was already a fair way of one of the larger climbs of the day.  My maneuvering and twisting threw out my back and gave stitches up my side.  While my fitness was where I needed it, I was unable to bridge up to the field and regain a chance of victory in the day.

To my knowledge, that crash took out 50% of the field.  Out of those who went down, I am unsure how many were able to continue on.

All that said, I am extremely glad to ride another day.  HOWEVER.  This is the point of my post where I get on my soap bike (similar to soap box, but rolling) and preach the following to my field, and all other fields who do not have people to clean up after them.

When you are racing, in any field (even when you are just riding), do not just throw your wrappers and trash on the ground.  You have the time to put your wrappers back in your jerseys.  This said, unless you have someone to clean up after you while you are riding, there is no excuse to do this.  The roads, while you use them, do not belong to just you.  They are shared by other individuals and forms various forms of wildlife.  It is important that if we are to be welcomed back to these places by the towns, and continue to see their beauty, that we as a community of cyclists striving for better health and glory; take care of the world we compete in and use to shape ourselves.

That is all.

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Let The Season Begin!

The season begins with a bang.  More of a thunk.  Well really, it's the hollow crunching of carbon over potholes yet to be repaired, and frost heaves which have still not come back to their un-heave-like state.

I traveled this weekend to Plymouth, MA to race the Myles Standish State Forest Road Race.  I'm sure you bikers are thinking to yourselves, why not Battenkill? Why not contest for the bragging rights to the East Coast Spring Classic rated to be among the hardest races in the Northeast?  My answer to this is simple; I didn't want to.  Myles Standish is a fantastic race.  The course is small, but interesting.  With full open roads running along ponds and through Myles Standish State Forest there is nothing boring or uninteresting about the race.  Rollers keep everything interesting through the whole course.  When it's not rolling, it's twisting, turning and climbing, all individually and at the same time.

To back up a little... the past few weeks have been spent training both indoors and out.  Weather has been limiting for the riding, and me being stubborn as a mule... I'm never willing to cooperate.  That said, I'm riding strong and think this season will look up... especially after today.

Myles Standish is a course built for me.  It twists and turn, climbs and falls.  My legs felt good and I was ready to go.  The race started off with an attack right from the line.  Teams all working together to get their guys up the road.  As soon as one attack fell, a counter would go.  There was no moment in the race where someone wasn't trying to fly off the front with their teammates blocking at the front.  It was a true race.  One I wish I had stuck in for longer than 2.5 laps.  Early into the 3rd lap, I (like many others) hit a massive pothole.  I had been lucky enough not to flat or go flying off my bike, but this time something mechanical happened that I still cannot fully explain.  Without my wheel coming out of the dropout, or loosening, or coming out of true, my brake began to rub and I could not pull my brake lever.  I was forced to stop and get off the bike to fix it.  Eventually I heard a click, the brake released and I was good to go.

By the time I got back on the bike, I had already been off for 5 minutes trying to fix the problem.  Once I got back on I was able to TT the remainder of the race.  While I did not ever catch the field, I was able to ride it out and finish the race. 39 out of 39 finishers.  Far from ideal, but the power is there.  We'll give 'em hell next time.

Arc hard, ride fast go plaid!