Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cliff Hanger

Yesterday ORR tested out the potential Cliff Hangers course in Montpelier, VT.  Designed by Kip from ORS, a course to crush the soul and test the physical and mental prowess of a rider.  Five riders from ORR including myself took to this hill with the intention of cresting the Cliff Hangers route.  Having not looked an elevation profile of any sort, I was not prepared to the short and extremely steep climb.  Sections via Google Earth were measured to be a womping 33% grade.  Not counting ORS as our starting point, the climb averages 16%.  Personally, I thought this was a fantastic loop.  I do afterall, love getting my soul crushed by hills and other riders.  If you are one who feels the similarly, stay tuned for more on Cliff Hangers.  A great local climb, worthy of being crushed by.
The proposed Cliff Hangers loop, by Kip.

NOTE TO RIDERS:  Expect to have your pedals stop and your soul crushed.  The climb is brutal by all definitions, minus the fire gates of the underworld....

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Barre Bike and Fitness Festival - Barre Grand Prix - Barre, VT

This past weekend was the first of hopefully many Barre Bike and Fitness Festivals.  Citizens traveled from far and near to attend the event of healthy habits and entertainment.  With the help of probably hundreds of volunteers, the weekend was able to end in the smooth execution of the Barre Grand Prix.  The Criterium bike race meant to highlight the weekends festivities.

Bridging up to the pack after a surge for the prime sprint lap.
Being the first year of the festival, I expected fields to be minimal in the number of entrants and spectators.  Boy was I wrong!  The 3/4 field, although small in comparison to other races, had just shy of 40 entrants.  The support during the race was phenomenal, people lined the start/finish stretch along Main St.  The cheering was more than enough noise to down out the constant complaints from my legs enough for me to last through the entirety of the race.

The 0.85 mile loop went right through downtown Barre.
The course consisted of a 0.85 mile loop with three corners, one of them being more of a curve than a corner.  Competitors went counter-clockwise through the loop, crossing train tracks on two separate occasions each before or after a bridge section.  There were no causalities I was aware of during the race, however a few racers were dropped from the field during one of the many surges throughout the 60 minute race.  Eventually a two man break formed and stuck with about 17 laps to go.

The peleton is given a break through the tailwind assisted
straightaway. A brief rest before the bridges and headwind.
The two riders, one Onion River Racer and a VOX rider rode to claim the top steps of the podium while the rest of us fought it out for the remaining places.  I managed to finish is 16th, a respectable finish after being sick with a stomach bug for the week previous.  Overall, I am happy with how the race went, and I can't wait to race again next year.  Hopefully by then I will have built on the strength and tactics I have earned in order to gain a win.

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

RIP Woulter Weylandt

A great powerful rider.  Woulter Weylandt.  RIP.
Stage 3 of the 2011 edition of Giro D'Italia was darkened by the sad passing of Leopard Trek rider Woulter Weylandt, a superhero in his own.  It makes me sad to think that it takes the death of another for us to realize our mortality.  In a sport who's riders have massive quads and can seemingly fly through the countryside faster than a speeding bullet, we are far from immortal.  I am reminded of a good friend, neighbor and teammate Dave who passed away last year in a tragic accident while racing the Tour De Divide.

While most of us who regularly compete and ride are aware of the dangers within the sport, there are reminders that are sparked in the instance of tragedy.  With the recent passing of Woulter Weylandt we are reminded of the friends and family which we would leave behind.  Leopard Trek, and the whole of the peleton showed a powerful demonstration of what it means to be a team, and to be a friend.
Leopard Trek and Tylar Farrar ride across after riding Stage 4 in complete
silence.  All nine riders withdrew from the 2011 Giro D'Italia after
crossing the line.
In silence, the peleton rode the full length of Stage 4.  Upon the approach of the finish, Leopard Trek and one Tyler Farrar rode arm and arm across the finish.  A tribute to their fallen compadre.  After crossing the line, all nine riders withdrew from the remainder of the 2011 Giro D'Italia.

It is within this powerful gesture we are reminded what is given to us in the privilege to be able to experience life in the way we choose.

RIP Woulter Weylandt.
RIP Dave.

Bikeman and the Wall at Sterling - Sterling Road Race - Sterling, MA

This past weekend I unexpectedly entered the 17th Annual Sterling Road Race in Sterling, MA.  The race was 7 laps on an 8 mile loop going through rolling hills and finishing on what might as well have been a wall.
Having just finished racing the 8 week collegiate season, I was planning to take time off until the Lake Sunapee RR at the end of May.  However, having a race less than 4 hours away is rare, so I took the opportunity and traveled down interstates to Sterling, MA with Andrew who was entering the Pro/1/2 field.  After counting more vanity plates along the way, we arrived at the staging area and were greeted warmly by fellow Onions who had either just finished racing in the 4s field, or were planning to put the rubber to the road in the coming afternoon races.  I was lucky enough to be racing alongside my teammate Damian, who entered the blistering pace of the 3 field.

We began the race with a 1 mile neutral start from staging to the course, upon the arrival of the course, the pace increased to the speed of a hammer hitting a nail.  Under normal circumstances, the pace would let up slightly once the competition settled it.  In this case, the pace did not settle until there were two laps to go.  At this time, my back had already seized up and thus preventing me from putting any hard efforts in to keep with the pace of the race.  I was dropped like a rock, but rode out an additional lap before calling it a day.

After chatting with teammates and other riders, we came to the conclusion that my saddle was jammed too far forward and needed to be moved back a few centimeters.  I have since done so and my back feels considerably better.  To help fix the problem I will be doing a variety of core exercises which target the back region.  Additionally, my saddle has been moved back to easy pressure on the vertebre.

After the race, we enjoyed a scenic ride back along route 12 through MA and up into NH before hopping onto I91 and eventually I89.  From now until Sunapee I am planning to put in many more miles.  With school coming to a close, I will have more time for 5+ hour rides.

My next planned event is a practice crit which is run by the GMBC.  I entered these practice crits last year and they greatly improved my handling skills and abilities as a racer.  There will be four practice crits this summer, one per month.  I encourage racers of all levels to enter either the A, B or C race at least once time this summer.  They cost 5$ and there are 10$ temp licenses available.

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!