Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Photos by Tanner Haskins

UVM Teammate and friend Tanner Haskins has been at it with his camera again. He has been so kind as to give these wonderful photos to me from the 2011 season.

Thanks Tanner!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bikeman Goes Eastern - Eastern Collegiate Road Championships at Penn State University

Bikeman and the League of Superhuman Bipedalists ventures to compete at Eastern Championships on the legendary Black Moshannon....

The race before the race at the
Frat Row Criterium, Penn State edition
Day 1 - Road Race - Black Moshannon
To start off blunt, this weekend was both disappointing and frustrating.  After eight consecutive weeks of racing, UVM finished up the season at Eastern Road Championships as hosted by Penn State University.  Our first day of racing was on the mighty Black Moshannon which presented a 20 mile loop for racers to complete.  While some racers did one lap, others did two, three and even four laps.  I however completed one lap after getting shelled off the back of peleton on the third climb.  Not wanting to waste myself chasing back on, I decided to pull out of the race and reserve my energy for the Criterium on Day 2.

Arcing hard, riding fast and closing out
the 2011 ECCC season in green and
gold.  Here's to 2012 racing!
Day 2 - Criterium - Frat Row
Having saved energy for Day 2, I thought I had played it fairly safe.  However in the Crit I was shelled off the back of the pack after a crash at corner one which forced me to come to a stop and almost crash myself.  Without thinking and having just avoided near death, I lept back into the race and attempted to chase back on.  At this point I am realizing I could have taken a free lap, in which I could have reported to the pit and explained there was crash that forced me to stop riding.  I was eventually pulled out of the race because I was getting lapped on the 1km loop.

Overall, the weekend was very disappointing for me.  I am using these poor results as motivation to improve and train harder to get faster.  I will be taking a 3 or 4 week hiatus from racing to specifically train and work specifically on my climbing base.  I found this to be my weakness while I was racing.  I am planning to post at least once a week, a training update for the past 6 days worth of riding or any other cross training.

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bikeman and the Bees - Dartmouth L'Enfer Du Nord/ UNH Live Free or Ride Harder

Bikeman ventures into the wilderness of NH, in a world where there are no taxes and just roads....
The first mass start in the Men's B and as a Cat 3 at
Dartmouth University
UVM Cycling ventured down to NH, the closest race of the season.  We had four races to compete in, the first two hosted by Dartmouth, and the final two hosted by UNH.  To highlight the weekend, UVM Cycling gained a win from the appearance of The Jamey Driscoll who stomped the Men's A field in the Criterium.  Day 2 was marked with a 3 Men's A riders within the top 10 of the road race. A spectacular weekend of racing from UVM Cycling!

Day 1 - Dartmouth L'Enfer Du Nord - ITT and Criterium

Hammering the
Criterium climb
Rocketing up the power
climb in the Criterium
After gaining an upgrade to Cat 3, I was automatically placed in the Men's B this past weekend.  Sadly leaving the hoard of C-Men, I moved into the B category starting with the on campus time trial.  Riding through Dartmouth Campus was both inspirational and educational.  As you rode through, you could feel the intelligence seeping from the buildings.  While nothing of excitement happened for me in the time trial, the 4 mile up hill grind through dirt, pavement and New Hampshire was more than grueling.  I finished in 29th place amongst the Men's B in the time trial.  Not my best result, but also not my worst.

The day progressed with the weather fluctuating from warm to cold, from windy to calm.  By the end of the day it had begun to snow, but before the snow was my time to take a stab at the Criterium.  Having watched the Men's B race before, I expected a faster and smoother pace when compared to the Men's C.

Attacking from the back of the back during
the final lap of the Men's B Criterium
Through the race I managed to hang towards the tail of the main pack.  With about 6 or 7 laps to go, a crash at corner four separated the main pack.  I managed to weave through the carnage and latch back on to the lead pack.   During the final lap, I made a move up the right side of the field and tried to launch off the front.  The gap that I opened was quickly shut down by the field, but I was not over taken.  I managed to hang on to third wheel position until just after corner four when the sprint happened.  Having exhausted myself trying to make a gap, I had nothing left for the sprint and was swarmed.  I managed to go from 3rd to 20th in the matter of 5 second.  Be faster than the things happening around you.

Day 2 - UNH Live Free or Ride Hard - TTT and Road Race
The races hosted for UNH started with torental downpour.  With no end in sight for the rain, the Men's B did not assemble a team for the TTT and instead rested in the vans in "prep" for the afternoons race.  The rain eventually let up in time for the start of the road race.  Soon after the start of the race I heard a clicking that I thought was the magnet on my front wheel hitting my sensor.  I later discovered (around mile 15 of 19 in lap 1 of 3, that I had actually blown a spoke.  I stopped and removed the spoke, after which I opted to pull out of the race.  Better safe than sorry!

Overall, I'm happy with my results and can see where I need to tactically improve as well as physically.  Not being remarkably stronger than the other riders, I am going to be forced to ride smarter and conserve energy with hopes I will have enough left for the final sprint.

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bikeman gets a new Cockpit and an Upgrade!

First things first.  After the results from this past weekend, I applied, and received my upgrade to Cat 3.  Because of this upgrade, I have been told I also will be racing in the Men's B for the remainder of the Collegiate season.

After the last weekend of racing and hard sprinting, I took apart my whole cockpit to find that my stem had cracked on the lower bolt mount for the steerer tube.  This crack confirmed the novelty of using a full carbon cockpit.  The loss of power due to the flex of the carbon handlebars and stem negate the savings in potential weight.  Those grams can just as easily be shaven by riding a little further every week.

This said, I hunted down some full alloy handlebars and equally stiff stem.  The result, full Ritchey WCS cockpit.  I went with the 400mm Ritchey LogicII Triple Butted Alloy Handlebars, with the 90mm Ritchey WCS Wide clamp stem.  So far, the change in components has been a positive one.  I also took the chance to re-wrap the handlebars and throw some new hoods onto the shifters.  Here's the result.

New Ritchey WCS Cockpit with FUBAR Orange Tape and XON Blue Hoods

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bikeman and the Battle at East Rock - Yale Lux et Velocitas

Bikeman ventures into the heart of the Battle at East Rock, where he fought his first fight....
Riding amongst the peleton during Sundays Criterium at East Rock Park.
UVM Cycling traveled to New Haven, CT to compete in this years edition of Yale Lux et Velocitas.  This was the first race I did last year with UVM, in which I fell off the back of each race.  This year, I was out to seek revenge only after sipping on coffee and devouring sandwiches at a nearby Italian Deli who supplied it's customers with the fuel of champions (fresh veggies, delicious meats, and wonderful pastries).

Smiles at the line.
Day 1 - ITT and Circuit - East Rock Park

ITT - All of the races took place in East Rock Park, a large rock which rose 500 feet from it's base.  The ITT, which was labeled a hill climb was a mad grind to the top of the rock.  Averaging 25mph in the first half before the climb, my pace dropped significantly upon entering the climb which resulted in a 23rd place finishing with a time of 13:05.28, just over 1 minute behind the winning time.

Circuit - The Circuit race became a more challenging race than I was initially expecting.  We did multiple laps which were essentially a mellow climb into a slightly steeper switchback, followed by a technical and fast descent.  There were no places where the pace really eased up like they would normally do in a circuit race.  From the start of the race right up until the end, the pace climbing was higher than I could sustain without having warmed up fully.  Usually one can warm up throughout the course of a longer race such as a circuit race, but during this particular circuit, I was popped off the back off the pack no later than midway through the second lap.  In an attempt to chase back on I further strain myself and finally arrived in Bonktown, where I rode out the remainder of the race with a 51st finishing result, a low for the season.

Grinding into the finishing sprint, a close contest to the line
Day 2 - Criterium - East Rock Park

The Criterium was set on a straightforward track with 4 corners and a long straight away just at the base of East Rock.  Going into the race I did not feel on my game.  My quad felt pinched and the bone spur on my right foot was already throbbing.  With the persuasion and support of my teammates, I decided to at least start the race and see how long I would be able to last.  Pulling up to the line I figured I would hang off the back, which I ended up doing for the first few laps.  I eventually made the choice to fly up the side after corner two along the straight away and try to make a break off the front.

My efforts failed and I ended up sitting on the front of the pack for 3 laps until the prime lap which sent me returning to the chase at the back of the pack.  Throughout the rest of race I managed to play in different areas of the peleton.  Going into the final three laps, I was hanging onto the back of the pack.  Eventually I decided to make a move at the same place where I had tested the water with a pull earlier in the race.  While I wasn't sure if it was the final lap, I asked a teammate how many were left to go.

A close call at the line.  Just shy of 3rd according to the results.
Upon hearing it was the final lap, I figured I had enough juice to raise the pace going in to the finish.  With a downhill sprint, I ended up crossing the line in a very close 4th place, a top mass start result for the season.

Shenanigans atop East Rock during the Mens A Circuit Race.
Yes.  That is a golf club.  It's a shame the shorts can't be seen.
Picture a rainbow puking.  That's what the shorts look like.
Overall, a great weekend!

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bikeman Eats the Beanpot - Boston Beanpot 2.0

Bikeman ventures deep into the pain cave while trying to steer clear of bonksville.

The race before the race was won by the green and gold.

The weekend started off with snow.  Lots and lots of snow fluttering down from the skies in both solid and liquid forms making the drive down a less than fun experience (driving-wise, still entertaining though!).  Upon arriving we found out the planned Circuit race had been changed to a day of Time Trials, both Team  and Individual.  Luckily, Day 2, the Beanpot 2.0 Campus Criterium remained unaffected by the weather and ran as scheduled with Men's and Women's Collegiate Races in the morning and USAC races immediately following in the afternoon.

Day 1 - Westminster, MA - TTT and ITT - Boston Beanpot 2.0
Our day started with a mixture of delicious pancakes, maple syrup, orange juice and snow.  Lots of cold, white, fluffy and stupid snow.  Because of the recent accumulation of precipitation, our schedule of events had changed from a TTT and a Circuit to a TTT and an ITT, also known as a day in the PAIN CAVE.  We arrived in Westminister with classic UVM Cycling style, a style which explains itself.

Right to left: Scott Igo, Harry Goldman and Joshua Saxe
cross the finish with the fastest TTT time.
TTT - For the TTT we decided to reform teams to be equally suited in ability and body types.  For a TTT all riders work together by using the rider in front of them as a blocker, riders take turns being the lead rider and blocking wind, thus creating a slipstream for teammates to ride and rest in until it is their turn to pull. Teams of equally sized riders are efficient when riders take pulls for short amounts of time, making sure to keep a pace which all riders can maintain until the finish.  Our four-man team of smaller riders, including myself, succeeded to post the fastest time of 35:16.28 over 12.5 miles to take the win, while our four-man team of larger riders was close behind with a time of 35:29.82, resulting in a 1-2 finish for UVM Cycling!  I would like to point out the use of equipment amongst the winning team more specifically the converted Haro Mountain Bike ridden by Scott Igo who utilized road fork and drop bars to complete the conversion to a "Road Bike" and special for the occasion, an aero disc wheel for extra "badassery."

ITT - The ITT was less of a team event.  In fact, the ITT is the definition of a non-team event.  All riders pace themselves to produce the fastest possible time over the distance of the marked Time Trial course.  Individually I was happy with my performance.  After catching two riders in front of me, and dropping a rider who caught me on the final climb of the ITT, I posted a 5th place finishing time of 18:06.50, roughly 5 seconds behind Jake "The Hebrew Hammer" Warshaw who finished in 4th with a time of 18:01.19 over the 6.3 mile course.

Day 2 - Somerville, MA - Criterium and USAC Criterium

Tanner Haskins and Josh Saxe take a visit through the
pain cave without going through bonktown.
Collegiate Criterium - After getting a good nights rest on the most comfortable couch in the world, we traveled to Tufts Somerville campus for the legendary criterium which was last raced in 2007.  The course was technically demanding, with 6 corners and three sets of cobblestone walkways spanning across the finishing flat.  The course started with an easy left hand turn into a quick descent which led straight to a blisteringly fast 90 degree left hand corner.  The corner of death was followed by a smooth semi-flat straight away leading into corner 3 and 4, an uphill switchback followed by a brief flat into the climb after corner 5 and 6 in to the finishing stretch.

The racing was fast and furious.  The brakes were rarely touched anywhere in the course.  Coming out of turn 2 on to the flats was the most forgiving section of the race due to the helping hand of the tailwind.  Coming into the climb and on to the flats was by far the deepest in to the pain cave I went in the whole race.  The upper flat finishing stretch was tainted by a brutally strong headwind which made the apex of the climb a chore and half to push through.  I managed to finish in 16th place in the Collegiate Criterium, a satisfying placement considering criteriums are by far my weakest event.

Returning to the pain cave of Beanpot 2.0 Criterium as
an Onion!
USAC 4/5 Criterium - Later in the day I had a repeat performance amongst the USAC 4/5 field, finishing in 17th place among the 18/49 finishers.  While the pace was faster and I was exhausted, I managed to push myself further into the depths of the pain cave for a finishing result.

Coming up next...
Next weekend I will be venturing to race the legendary Battenkill, a classic race of the East Coast.  Feared by some, won by others.  Hopefully I will be able to travel to Yale to compete in the first day of races before the Battenkill Road Race on Sunday.  Yale was my first collegiate racing weekend last year, where I was pulled from all races besides the Time Trial.  I would love the chance to be able to return to Yale and put the race in it's place.  After all, no one has ever won a race in which they don't start.

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!