Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bikeman and the Battle of Troy - Tour De Troy

Bikeman hauls into Troy, NY for a series of battles to prove the best of the best...  The town prepares by blocking streets and allowing marshals to take to the corners, keeping innocent residents out of harms way....

All races in Tour de Troy made visits to the Pain Cave and Bonktown.
Day 1 - Individual Time Trial and Circuit Race

ITT - This weekend UVM cycling traveled to Troy, NY to compete in week 4 of the ECCC.  The weekend consisted of an Individual Time Trial, Circuit Race, and Criterium.  The ITT was along a small 2.6 mile stretch of the Hudson River.  Starting off with a false flat into gentle rolling hills, the ITT was surprisingly demanding for it's length.  I managed to press myself to a 27th place in 13:13.88 while my teammates pushed to a 3rd place amongst the C's in 12:21.93 and 7th amongst the A's in 11:45.97.

Circuit -  The Circuit Race used the full ITT course, plus an additional section of rolling and sandy hills.  While the terrain itself was entertaining while riding solo, the sandy and bumpy descent was nerve racking enough to shell myself and others off the back of the main pack, resulting in the first DNF of the season.  While I am disappointed in myself for not continuing in the race, it is important to remember that it is still early in the season.  Because I am planning to race through the summer, it is helpful to think of these early season races as additional opportunities for base building to enhance summer season results.

With no employed racing tactics, the 7-Corner Criterium
results in a 24th place finish with room for improvement.
Day 2 - Criterium

Criterium - Downtown Troy was an interesting place.  The streets are not set on a grid, but seem to have been built as they were needed and form around the buildings and their nontraditional shapes.  The criterium, which was supposed to be a 9 corner crit over 0.6 miles, was modified to be a 7 corner criterium over 0.6 miles.  The course itself was what I would consider to be the most fun course of the season thus far.  The pavement was as perfect as a city paved in ridable gold!  The corners seemed to be banked and laid out in such a way that was perfect for cornering at 30 mph.

While I have not come even close to mastering the tactics of a criterium, I was able to finish in 24th place after going airborne off a manhole cover during the final sprint.

This week I am planning to work on criterium tactics in my own neighborhood.  I can only hope that this will help me to prepare for the up and coming Boston Beanpot.  An excellent race from what I have heard, that has been missing from the UVM calendar in previous years.  I can only hope this weekend is less frustrating than the last.

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bikeman and the Philly Phlyer - Philly Phlyer

Bikeman ventures to the home of his nemesis, the Philly Phlyer in hopes to to arrive at an arangement to be decided by the outcome of a friend competition...

No plaid seen in the Criterium at Temple University.
This past weekend, UVM cycling ventured towards Philadelphia.  Upon our arrival we encountered the illusive hipster in it's natural environment.  With a fixed gear and handlebars just large enough for both hands, but small enough to squeeze where no man has gone before (i.e. between two buses), we marveled as the hipsters zoomed through the heavy traffic of Philadelphia.  Somehow, I don't think I'll be trying it any time soon....

Day 1 - Fairmont Park - TTT and Circuit

The race before the race.
The first day of racing took place in Fairmont Park.  While the first squad for the C-men took to the road for the Team Time Trial at a blistering pace, the second squad took more time to work on team dynamics and pace lining technique.

Dropping the hammer at
the finish of the TTT

While we finished 11th out of the 19 TTT teams, we were happy with the dynamics and skills that were practiced while on the road.
After the TTT, we once again took to the road for the Circuit race.  Again racing in Fairmont Park, we completed multiple laps around a 6.2 mile loop which had short climbs and long straight aways.  We averaged 25 mph during the 3-lap race.  I managed to finish in 9th place after a lapse in judgement going in to the final climb.  While I was with the leaders going in to the climb, I was in the wrong gear to be able to drop the hammer and pull away in the way that I needed to.  With the 9th place finish, I am now one step closer to the illusive podium finish.  Hopefully I now have some additional tactics in my weaponry.

Day 2 - Temple University - Criterium

Riding to 28th in Sundays Criterium
The Criterium at Temple University did not go as well as the Circuit in Fairmont Park from the day before.  While I believe myself physically capable of placing within the top 10 of a criterium, I still remain mentally unprepared for such an event.  The course was a simple 4-corner loops which totaled 1-mile per lap.  I managed to stay glued to the back of the main field for the entirety of the race, but was unable to make the jump towards any sort of front position.  With a 28th place finish and all my limbs intact, I would call that a success!

Descending before the final climb.
Next weekend we race much closer at RPI in Troy, NY.  Hopefully my results will fair better than they have been.  This week I will be practicing my cornering abilities rain or shine.  Snow however... we'll see.

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bikeman and the Ghost at Grant's Tomb - Grant's Tomb

Brief glory at ECCC Week 2 - Grant's Tomb Criterium

Bikeman ventures to the big apple to investigate sightings of an evil ghost... stories say the specter hums the sound of a full carbon disc wheel....
(there is no ghost... just a sweet title!)

This weekend was cut short by mass amounts of rain in NJ which forced the cancelation of Sundays Road Race.  However, Saturday was a warm sunny day of racing in New York City at Grant's Tomb.  The course was a .9 mile track with a power climb followed by a 120 degree corner into a descending straight away and banked left hand curve leading back to the climb.

Attacking the field at Grant's Tomb Criterium
ECCC Week 2, the Grant's Tomb Criterium was a disappointing 49th place finish for me.  I made the obvious tactical mistake by attacking off of the first lap with too little gusto to carry any break through the whole race.  This said, I was noticeably still exhausted and not fully recovered from illness gained while in NC.  Half way through the race I could feel my lungs start to seize up, causing me to fall off the back of the main pack.

While I and many did not perform to potential, I have to keep reminding myself that it is early in the season.  I still have a good eight months left of racing, and I am only two weeks in to the season.  While fitness is still improving, there's quite a ways to go before I am at peek performing levels.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fortress at Beech Mountain Day 4

The journey to Beech Mountain comes to a close as Bikeman ventures into the hills of North Carolina and begins his journey eastwards towards Vermont.

On the final day of riding at Beech Mountain, I felt well enough to venture to the outdoors for a short jaunt with some UVM teammates.  We made our way down Beech Mountain and headed towards Hickory Nut Gap.  We averaged an easy 14 mph up through the treelined switchbacking road.  After reaching the pinnacle, the group descending quickly, where we then split up, one group climbing back up Beech Mountain, and the other taking the support van back up.

Since I had been sick the past few days, I made the choice to take the support van back to the Fortress.  Making a quick and full recovery now is more important than packing in miles that would extend any given illness.

To any athlete who thinks it is more important to train than it is to recover from illness, think again.  Taking the time to recover from being sick will pay off more than pushing your body while you are sick.  Take the time to rest.  You'll thank yourself later.

Tomorrow we get back on the road and head back east, to NYC, where we will be racing a Criterium at Grant's Tomb.  Sunday will be a Road Race in NJ, after which we return to VT to resume classes.

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fortress at Beech Mountain Day 2 & 3

Bikeman braves the effects of higher altitude at the Fortress at Beech Mountain and continues training....

Day 2 was marked by illness thought to be brought on by the massive change in altitude.  Despite feeling like having a skull made from balloons, I still went and did repeats on the climb from the Fortress at Beech Mountain to the pinnacle of Beech Mountain itself.  Stopping just short of my head exploding, I downed multiple bottles of water and slept through the night.  Here's what others did while I nursed my altitude sickness ridden body...

Scott Igo's Beech Mountain Descent

Day 3, I awoke with minor head ballooning but was kept inside by torrential down pour and high winds.  While others went out and braved the conditions, I opted to stay inside and heal my altitude crushed body.  I kept training to a minimal one hour on rollers in the basement.

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bikeman and the Fortress at Beech Mountain

After battling hard against the Scarlett Scurry, Bikeman ventures into the Appalachian Mountains to gain strength and power for the upcoming battle of Columbia.  Here he seeks refuge in the Fortress at Beech Mountain, the very place where Lance (the one-nut wonder) Armstrong began his comeback after his battle with cancer....

Today was Day 1 at our Beech Mountain hideaway.  UVM ventured for 10 hours after the completion of the Men's A Point Race at Rutgers.  After arriving at 4am, riders groggily awoke from their slumber with no more than 5 hours sleep.  After food shopping and stocking the house with supplies, we chamois'd up and took the roads of Beech Mountain, North Carolina.

We started our ride at 4445ft above sea level and descended 1168ft from the 5068 ft mountain road pinnacle.  This resulted in a grand total of 2069 feet of descending.  Through the mountain switchbacks, 7 riders tore down mountain road to the town of Banner Elk, where we then ventured through the town and into more rolling hills.  After a total of 9.5 miles of riding, we doubled back, ascending up the 1168ft  of switchbacks over 7 miles which we had only just descended.

A successful day of riding.  The legs feel good, but could certainly feel better.  Tomorrow is looking to be the warmest day of the week, a balmy 45 degrees.  Plenty warm for a much longer ride.

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!

Battle of the Scarlett Scurry Parts I & II

With dark clouds looming overhead the epic Battle of the Scarlet Scurry begins...

Staging for the start of the Men's Criterium.
Today marked the start of the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference racing series.  The first three races stretch over a three day period with the Time Trial and Criterium on Day 1 and the Road Race on Day 2.  For this particular RR, the format is to be modified in to what is being called a "points race."  Every lap, points are awarded to the top 10 until the final lap when point values are doubled.  The rider with the most overall points gains the win.

PART I - DAY 1 - Time Trial and Criterium

This morning, started at 5am.  With the sweet charm of multiple cell phone alarms, the UVM Cycling Squad lept out of beds, cots and sleeping bags to awake to the call of the Scarlett Scurry.  Chamois' butt'red, and bottles filled, we arrived earlier enough to the Rutger Registration that USAC Officials had not even arrived to set up check in.  Collectively, UVM Cycling won the race before the race.

Before entering onto my own results, I would like to celebrate the virgin voyages of multiple riders on this fine and mostly sunny day.  While our results did not stack up to wins, UVM Cycling posted a strong showing of developing talent.  A tiger in it's cage so to speak.  For puns sake, a catamount in a cage (this terrible joke brought to you by BaDJK, a not real organization specializing in terrible puns and acronyms).

Time Trial - A time trial is an individual race against the clock.  Similar to ski racing, the fastest time wins.  I was once told by a teammate, "you know you've done a good time trial when you have absolutely nothing left in the tanks once you cross the finish."

Today, I rode my races with the intent to stretch my legs and gauge my strength.  With all the training done recently, I was curious to see how much it had all paid off and whether I would be in the same place I ended last season, or if I would end up slightly ahead.  Before I reveal any results, I would like to take some time to reflect on the results from last season, where I was pulled from, or DFL at every ECCC race I entered whether it be a ITT, Crit, or RR.

This season I am proud to say I ended up posting a 15th place result in the Time Trial with a time of 4:54:34 over a 2.5 mile course, a personal early season best.  While I did not collapse at the end of the TT, I am happy with the power I put out through the duration of the TT.  However, I also know where I could have exerted much more power.  Today being the first day on the FLAHUTE, as well as the first day back on the road, I am glad to say that I ended the TT with a good amount of energy left in the tank.

Arcing through corner four of the Crit.
Criterium - Criterium racing is a skill held by the balsy and sometimes stupid.  A high speed event which entails high speed cornering while surround by multiple riders of various cycling skills.  This is by far, one of the most entertaining events to be a spectator for.

Similar to the TT, I entered in the Criterium with the intention of stretching my legs and getting the feel of my bike.  While my field of competition was certainly not the fastest, it was potentially some of the most nerve racking racing I have ever done.  While I cannot attribute the fault to any rider in particular, on two separate occasions, was I either nudged off of the main path in to the dirt where I had to fight for my way back on to the road.  It was at this point, multiple teammates were nudged off of the main pack and pushed in to the chase pack for the remainder of the race.  On a separate occasion, a rider was pushed in to my by the wind.

Attacking with four to go in the Crit.
After two near race ending crashes, I managed to stick with the main pack for a 26th place finish.  Despite the pot holes, gnarly sand coated inner corners, and disgustingly strong wind, the track was demanding of mental and physical partnership.  Where you placed yourself coming through corners determined the amount of time spent in THE PAIN CAVE.  Being so early in the season, I put on the hurt and sent others in the main field to the cave de pain with 4 laps to go.  With no help on the far windy stretch I sat up and reserved energy.  In my mind, it is still base building season.  That said, I figure it's either a little glory now, or a lot of glory later.

PART II - DAY 2 - Points Race

The format of this race was very different from any other race I've done in the past.  In a points races, there are points awarded to the top four to cross the line.  This is similar to criteriums in that there are Prime laps which award points to riders and can be tallied to determine a sprint leader within a series.

Entering the pain cave after not warming
up before the Points Race.
Going into the points race, I was not mentally prepared for the current miserable rain conditions.  My 36th place result is completely attributed to my mental and physical preparedness for the race.  While I consider myself to be in decent physical condition, I did not take the proper time to warm up or stretch any part of my body.

As a note to those who are at any point in your racing careers.  Always warm up in some fashion that allows your muscles to be fluid enough to drop the hammer at any point in the race.  This can be accomplished in a number of ways.  My personal choice is a 35 minute trainer spin session with intense intervals every 5 minutes for a duration of 2 minutes or more.  To follow this up, I stretch out key biking muscles to relieve any tension and work out lactic acids from previous days.  Warm ups should start an hour before your race.

From here, we move as a team to Beech Mountain, North Carolina to train during spring break.

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Like Popeye Runs On Spinach, Bikeman Run On...


While on the road, Bikeman finds fuel through liquid pasta.  Energy wasted on would be chewing is redirected to fuel the defeat of the Scarlet Scurry...

Short of actually having liquidated my pasta supply, prepping for race weekends with the proper types of food and nutrition is an important skill to possess.

A skill almost as important as your tactical racing skills.  For weekends it is imperative to remember to pack a proper amount of food, along with all of your gear.  This upcoming weekend I am venturing to NJ to race at Rutgers, then to North Carolina for to ride on roads with more liquid on the roads, than solid (water than ice).  After NC training, I'll be heading back North to race at Columbia in NY.  These 10 days of traveling require some intimate planning.  Short of revealing my dietary secrets (eating everything in sight, short of the kitchen sink), I have made 5lbs of pasta, which should last through the weekend and hopefully part way through training.

Remember, when bringing food, there will always be places around which you can replenish your stock.  A simple PB&J is an energy source which can come in all shapes and sizes (seriously, if you have a cookie cutter you can make your boring square or triangular sandwich into a DINOSAUR).

T-minus 1 hour until leaving for departure to NJ and a glorious spring break full of riding, racing and jean cut off shorts.

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Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

As Naked As A Naked Mole Rat Wearing A Bike Kit.

With naturally grown aerobladed carbon fiber hairs for winter warmth, Bikeman sheds his layers of hair in preparation to face the three stages of THE SCARLET SCURRY....

With less than 4 days until departure for the Scarlet Scurry, hosted at Rutgers University, the layers of hair which built up through the winter for warmth, magically fell off over the course of this past weekend.  While many were stunned and disgusted by the trail of hair left behind, I was simply cold.

Put simply, less hair does not equal going faster.  Not in my book anyways.  Less hair means less to manage and also a more comfortable (temperature wise) ride.  With less hair on my head, and bush on my legs, the average temperature of athlete will drop 34% (this message brought to you by UOJ (University of Josh) an unaccredited, not real University, specializing in not real published statistics).

There is also then the added bonus of understanding why crickets rub their legs together and make wonderful sounds.  BECAUSE IT FEELS AWESOME!

In other news, training this week is a lot less volume, and more intensity for the early parts of the week.  To prepare for the 3 races this coming weekend, I have opted to give myself additional recovery time between rides and a full day of rest on the Friday before the first stage.  While the Tank on Two Wheels will be taking the whole of spring break (next week) off from training, intensity of the decrease in volume has been taken up a notch to make up for time which will be lost to what I would imagine to be the 3 S's of vacation. Sun, Sand and Super awkward tan lines.  While my trainer partner, who is yet to actually come up with an alias (and will thus be called Tank on Two Wheels until further notice) is enjoying said 3 S's, I will be in North Carolina with UVM Cycling.

During our stay in NC, we will be making base on Beach Mountain where rides will start and end.  I'm excited to be able to get out on the road.  It's been too long in doors with too many days on the trainer going no where.

Stay tuned over the weekend for results.  Here's to keeping the rubber side, down.

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!