Monday, December 15, 2008

Training @ home

The trip to Panama was awesome, with great weather and 8 days of good riding in rolling to high mountain terrain. My girlfriend also enjoyed the people, scenery and weather.

Upon on arriving in Panama City (with all the bags, bike included), my parents picked us up and we headed for lunch in the city before heading to Santiago, the town where I grew up. Early on Friday was the first scheduled ride with my dad. It was pretty cool getting to ride, just the two of us, on roads where he taught me how to ride a bike. On Saturday was the big ride with all the locals and my welcoming committe included the pro national champ, the U23 champ and the Masters champ, so it was time to step up. And like they say, "when in Rome do as the Romans", I didn't hesitate to get the festivities started. It was better to shoot the first round than to wait for the battery of attacks from the locals. The legs responded well and soon it was the U23 and the pro champ with me sandwiched in between. The younger of the trio turned the screws on the last climb and I had to let him go, with the pro champ smiling from ear to ear, since he was on a "recovery" ride.

After the ride we packed and headed to Boquete, up in the mountains of western Panama. It's about 4,400 feet high, with mild temperatures and some gusty winds, land of coffee, flowers and some really nasty climbs. Dad wasted no time to introduce me to his favorite loop and I was soon in a world of trouble, wondering if the 39/26 ratio was going to be enough.

Monday was a fun ride, with the Firefly Club from David. This is where the heavy climbing was done and I was feeling good going hard on the long, gradual and at times steep climbs until a 26 year old local joined me at the head of the pack. The guy had an older model Diamond Back road frame, with a 7 speed cassette and soak and wet I calculated he weighed about 125 lbs. and at 5'4 inches, it was going to be a struggle trying to draft behind him. After a quick pit stop at a store, the now local climber and I headed for battle on the 14 mile ascend up to Caldera. The first 11 miles can be done on the big ring, but you are climbing all the way up to the Chiriqui Dam and after a few short walls that zap your legs, you still have another 9 miles of nice paved road in front, although the last 4 are not as smooth and they get steeper.

The climbing sensation half way through told me he actually was 110 lbs. and I remember what Kyle says about having to climb with a fat ass. My 151 lbs. carcass was hurting me up the ascend. The heat was also taking a toll and the pace was hard but not brutal, until we exited the smooth paved section and headed still higher up on what I dubbed "Highway to Hell", a bumpy stretch where the sun just cooks you slowly. And with two miles to go, I dropped anchor and the bike refused to move forward, it was just mental strength that got me to the end of the ride where mom was waiting with the car, thank goodness.

The rest of the week included more climbing, great food, good company and overall a really great time with our friends and family. We enjoyed it so much that I'm planning on going back hopefully before June and then in late August when the local racing season will be in full swing. Can't wait.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Picture Perfect

Let me tell you, jet lag is a biacth!. I arrived from India last Saturday and the plan was to grab a late breakfast por early lunch, take a nap, go for short spin, get a haircut and watch some college football. Well, I got as far as the nap part and after that, it was lights out. With the weather turning on Sunday and having to work early both Monday and Tuesday, the bike wasn't going to get out and my struggle to recover from the trip just continued. Sleeping was good, but I never seemed to get enough of it and on Monday at work, I kinda of zoned out during one of the live newscasts. Not a good thing to do.

Yesterday, one of my supervisors thought that I could be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Alright, things in Mumbai were quite hairy at best, but I was never in "real" danger, so I found it interesting that she came to that conclusion.

And today my month long vacation began and it couldn't have started in a better way than with a morning ride with Jose. We parked at the bottom of Great Falls and did part of the 10AM loop, all of it in the small ring, riding side by side and just talking and enjoying the cool, sunny day. After 10 days of no riding, I didn't feel too bad, but we never put the hammer down. I'm convinced the hommies in Panama will bring their A game when I show up on Saturday, but I have a good list of excuses prepared. I spent the 15 hour trip back from India working on them.

The bike is packed (broke my pedal wrench and one cassette decided it wasn't going to come off) and everything is ready for us to leave tomorrow morning. First ride is scheduled for Saturday and the weather is in the mid 80s, with the humidity in the mid 90s (love it!). Looking forward to ride the roads where I learned how to ride a bike.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

No form, no worries

Two weeks ago at work, I was told that more than likely, I would be going to India the week of the 21st. Not really knowing what to expect because getting the entry visa was going to be touch and go, I really didn't give the trip much thought. Instead, I was concentrating on riding 3 to 4 days a week, just tempo stuff, nothing fancy, and counting the days for the trip that I really am looking forward to, Panama.

The new wheels and bike bag arrived and the days were ticking by nicely, with the miles getting piled on and the form just where it needs to be for this time of the year. In fact, I hadn't felt this good in November in many, many years. And then, at the last possible minute, and I mean, it was to the second in fact, the visa was approved after some well placed phone calls at the Indian embassy. Threw some clothes in a suitcase, packed the laptop, Ipod, magazines, books and off I went on a 22 hour trip.

Arriving in Mumbai was quite the shock. Traffic is horrendous, the city is a bit trashy, there are people everywhere, a large number of them poor, and the heat is strong. Yet with all of that, the natives are very friendly and make you feel welcomed. But this wasn't a vacation, so it was time to work. Our first pre-recorded show on Monday was a technical nightmare and having a crew from all over the world, whom I had never met before made for quite the challenge. On Tuesday, we sat down, and I explained in details what I wanted from them. The second show was live and it was perfect. We did another pre-record show soon after and it was time for a few Heinekens. Wednesday was an off day and the crew decided to hit the streets for some local shopping. That night we were supposed to attend an awards ceremony, but two of us decided to skip it and stay in the hotel.

I never heard the first gunshots or explosions coming from the Tridant Hotel, about 500 yards from the Intercontinental Hotel where we are staying. But when the phone call came to let me know not to leave my room, I knew something was up. No soon had I put the phone down, that I heard the sirens and then the first of two large explosions I would hear during the night. Needless to say sleeping was out of the question. All night the news came coming in on the tv and friends from all four corners of the world were checking to see how we were doing.

At around 7AM this morning we went out to the Tridant and found a large crowd of people gathered a few hundred yards from the hotel. The police presence was evident and as we got closer, we saw a guy who had been kidnapped and somehow, managed to escape. We soon got him on the phone with our studios in DC so he could tell the world his story. His friend was still at the hospital and nobody knew if he was alive or dead.

We then decided to head to the Taj Mahal Hotel and as we approached the building, the gunshots could be heard inside. Scary to say the least. A second team arrived from Qatar and took over from us, so back to the hotel for a well deserved burguer and fries, some rest and to pack for the trip back home tomorrow.

My form evaporated into thin air, I'm tired as hell and can't sleep at all, but this experience has taught me so many things in a spand of a week, I will never forget it. But now, I'm ready to head to Panama, bike and all, and get my ass handed to me on the long, gradual climbs. And riding with my dad is always fun.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Another good 3 days...

Things continue to improve and I'm starting to believe that it's all mental. A positive attitude can do wonders and I can't ask for more at the moment. Things are good on the bike, and after spending the last 72 hours going up and down hills, my legs are nice and sore, which is what I wanted.

Still though, I'm doing my best not to get suckered into hammer fests at the local rides, and I'm just doing enough to get a good workout without burning too many matches, after all, it's only November and spring seems too distant right now, even though the temperatures this past weekend were on the warm side.

Two more weeks (hopefully squeezing 3 rides in each) before travel begins and I'll be able to take a week off the bike to let the body and mind have a break, but those of you who know about jet lag may disagree with me.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Waiting for spring to come

Looks like I did my last afternoon (6PM) ride at Hains Point on Thursday. With time changing in just a few hours, time on the saddle is going to be drastically cut. One thing that I will try again this winter is not to get on the trainer, at all! if possible. The "torture machine" as it's better known has spent the best part of a year hidden somewhere in the closet and the plan is to keep it there for an undetermined period (eternity).

Speaking of Hains Point, I heard that Mondays and Fridays are easy days but according to some reports last Monday things got a little hairy. And the last two Fridays I have had to raise my heart rate higher than I wanted on a recovery ride. I'm all about having fun every now and then, but this pattern will have to be carefully watched. Maybe it was the fact that the temperature was nice and warm and the southern wind was prevelant. On the plus side, I can only make it on Fridays to the noon ride.

Work is going to probably keep me away from the bike towards the end of the month, so everyday that I can get my arse on the saddle counts. Seems like a trip to a far off place is in the books and I will arrive back home only with 5 days to dust the leg muscles to get them ready for the trip down to the motherland. The locals would have finished the Vuelta a Chiriqui just a few days prior to my arrival and their form will be tip top. I'm just hoping that some of the old dudes will hang back and feel sorry for me.

The achilles soreness made a return this week, but at a milder level. The medicine prescribed by the chiro is working, but as he said, this is going to take a while to heal. Patience is the name of the game.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Seems to be that time of the year for updates. I added a few things to the page courtesy of Mike and GamJams. Anohter thing getting an update is my winter clothing collection. All I need now is a good pair of winter gloves to keep my hands from freezing during those cold mornings. Wheels are also in the plan for an update since my trusty Ksyriums have served me well and will now be handed over to my dad for some TLC and some less stressfull miles. And finally, a new bike. This is the one I'm really looking forward to, but it's going to be the most difficult. The process is a bit complicated and hopefully by Christmas I'll know if I will be piloting a new rig in 2009.

Speaking of 2009, a trip to Colorado is already in the works for the Bicycle Tour of Colorado. I've ridden it twice already, and the last time my dad came and we had a really good time. He's planning on bringing a contingent of friends from Panama and hopefully some of the old guard from Texas will make the trip. It should be memorable.

But closer in the future is a trip to Skyline this coming Thursday. If anyone out there in cycling land is off this Thursday, I'm headed that way with Jose and maybe Dani for some fun in the sun.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Still hurting, but...

So the ankle is still acting up. Not as bad as last week, but enough to keep reminding me that there's something going on down there. Nonetheless, I managed to ride since Wednesday and just dealt with the discomfort.

Today's 10AM was a better performance compared to last week. I hung with the main bunch and felt pretty much within myself, which was a drastic difference from last week. So aside from the pain and the cool temperatures, the ride was just perfect.

But there were some extracurricular activities on the way back. As the ride was winding down, one guy (I don't know his name, but his reputation is not a good one within the cycling community because of his temper) started mouthing off to another rider. Things quickly escalated and before I knew it both dudes were off the bikes and ready for action. The soon to be pugilists were kept apart by the small group of riders that were left and the fight turned to only a bike throw.

Everyone remounted, but aforementioned mouthy rider was not done and came back looking for more. This time he cut off the same rider he was having troubles with, got off his bike and proceeded to chase him on foot. I must say that was one of the most hilarious things I have ever seen on a bike, a cyclist running on the street with cycling shoes, a helmet, tights.

Upon remounting his bike once again, the rest of the group gave the dude a mouth full and that somehow cooled him off. For some reason I know this will not be the last incident with said rider, but he better be careful as to who he picks on next time.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Injury Time

Last week was spent off work and just doing some good time riding, having fun. Despite that, I was trying to recover from a cold that was prolonging its usual 3 to 4 days stays each year. This time the bastard hung tight and didn't want to let go, but despite that, the warm weather was welcomed. And with all the riding, my right ankle started to act up. Never before have I felt this type of discomfort and not wanting to miss on the good weather, I kept pedalling.

Yesterday at the 10AM, which was quite peppy by the way, the ankle finally had enough punishment and the pain was quite considerable. Half way into the ride, I had to pull the plug, not that I was going to last much longer in the main group. From then on, it was a limp back home. Jose encouraged me to call Lindsey for an "emergency pick up", but I was having none of it (dumb, I know). Once home, the pain decreased and watching the Longhorns beat OU and downing a few cold Shiner Bucks had me thinking that all was back in business, but that wasn't to be.

With the prospects of two rides on Sunday, I wanted to make an attempt to ride, but upon waking up, I knew that a ride was not going to be possible. What hurt the most was the fact that it was probably the last Sunday with great weather, but giving the ankle some time to recover was probably a smart move. Plus I did some cleaning around the house, wash the car and bike, cook some steak, watch football, Paris-Tours and just laid low. Tomorrow I'm going to start going to the gym to pump some iron. I'm not the muscle type, but it will be good to work on a few ones that need some improvement.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sunny October

I have ridden everyday since Sunday and I can't be happier with the sun and the mid 70s temps, even if early during the week the arm and knee warmers were out for a workout. The riding has been pretty tranquil, with one long day on Tuesday with Jose, doing a few hills just for fun. My left knee and my right ankle are a little sore, and I'm guessing is the change in temperatures that are the cause. That or my age is starting to catch up with me!

And having the week off work has just done wonders to my riding. The plan for the weekend is to do the 10AM and 8:30AM rides and just log miles at a nice pace. Of course tomorrow is the Texas vs. OU game and since I'm a adopted Texan, the Longhorns will get my full support.

The trip to Panama is still on for December, minus my girlfriend. She couldn't get off work which really sucks, but the bike will keep me busy for 10 days. My dad is planning some fun rides with the locals and I want to arrive in good shape so I don't get stumped by the natives.

Check your cable or satellite lineup for Universal Sports. Nothing but sports all day and to add to the fun, some cycling. Old races, but some is better than nothing. Right now they are showing the Worlds. Who needs baseball?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Nice and Smooth

Alberto Contador won yet another grand tour, good for him, the guy has some real talent. It would be nice to find out if he will be on Lance's "domestique deluxe" list or will he be facing the Texan face to face.

On the home front, did the 10AM ride yesterday and had a blast. Because of the ING Crit, most of the heavy hitters stayed away, thus letting us mere mortals have a good ride and a nice and smooth pace. The arm warmers made their first appearance this season. And today I had to work, but made a quick stop at the crit in town to see the festivities. Dani, Enrique and Jose were there checking the action and I managed to see the finish and then sprint back to work to make it just in time.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The return...

Well, I took a break from this blogging thing because to be honest with you, I had no time, or interest on writing about my little adventures, but most importantly, cycling had taken a back seat over the last two months. I got to spent six weeks with my daughters and my parents, while traveling to Floria to see my sister. Then after everyone had gone home, I dove right into riding and it cost me, dearly. Physically I wasn't that far off, but mentally I wasn't ready for the kicking I took. I fought through some hard ride with Dani and Daniel and the two were having field days with me (bastards!), until about a month ago when all of the sudden and out of nowhere, the form return. Just in time of me to head off to the national conventions.

While in Denver I tried a little running, just to keep the heart in check and everything was just dandy, except my right knee wasn't having such grand of a time. Again, my head went off the abyss and I didn't want to ride when I got back. But the thought of colder days approaching had me quickly changing my mood and now I have logged a few rides and I'm feeling pretty good. However, like I said, cycling is not ruling my life. I have never worried about wattage, power output, this, that or the other. Now I just want to ride and have fun, so what if I get drop. For next year the plan is to race whenever I feel like it, and just for pure enjoyment, no expectations attached. A trip to Colorado is on the planning stages for June, with my dad and his posse joining a pack of friends from Texas. It should be lots of fun. Speaking of trips, I'm heading south to Panama in December for two weeks of relaxation. The bike is coming along of course, and riding with old friends on roads where I learned to ride my bike will bring back nice memories. Looking forward to that.

So enjoy your rides, I sure as hell will enjoy mine from this point on.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Most Combative..

After today's stage, I was wondering, to whom would I give the prize of "most combative" rider. The three options I had were: Damiano Cunego, because he got his ass handed to him on his terrain, yet he never gave up. And after yesterday's show of character, he was getting some serious consideration. Alejandro Valverde (not AleSSandro) like Phil Liggett loves to call him, was pick number two. Another one who took a whoopping on a bad day, yet he fought his way back, with some of his famous accelerations thrown in for good measure, he got an honorable mention. Then there was Sylvain Chavanel. At the beginning of the race he was in every break, it seemed. Then he got the polka dot jersey for a day or two, went incognito for some time, just to come back during the last week, trying his hands at the breaks. The pundits were talking of him riding the most kilometers in breakaways on this edition of the tour. He showed that if at first you don't succeed, then try again, and again, and again, and he was rewarded (might not be the correct word since he fought for it) with a stage win. Good for the frenchies!.

Ok, so all the formalities are over and done with, and tomorrow's time trial is going to be a dandy. The top six spots are going to race out of their skins, to either win, keep a podium place or move up. Personally, I think Evans is going to win the overall. He might not win the stage, but he will take time on Sastre. CVV would become a super star if he lands third place, but I think Menchov pretty much will take that home. Kohl is the unknown one, and Schelck will need a miracle to stay in the top three. But then again, anything can happen.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Second sucks!

Today's stage was kind of dull. I had the tv on, but I wasn't really paying attention, after all, the two guys up front were gone, the three chasers were tooling around and main pack was keeping everyone fresh for tomorrow and Saturday, except Damiano Cunego, who seemed to have had a close inspection of the local french pavement.

With about 15kms to go, I decided it was time to play closer attention to the action and pick a winner. My choice was Carlos Barredo, since Columbia already had a share of the limelight and Barredo was doing a gutsy ride. After both him and Burghardt traded a few punches, with 7km to go, the Quickstep car pulled up to the two fugitives and told something to Barredo. My first suspicion was that they were offering Burghardt money to give up the sprint (something that is not that unusual in pro cycling). But it seemed that what was actually said was something along the lines of "stop working and attack him as much as you can, you pretty much have no chance on the sprint". Barredo gave it a few gos, but the youngster from team Columbia was attentive and covered every moved. The final sprint was more of a track race, but at the end, Columbia grabbed its 4 stage and Quickstep continues the search for victory.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


It was worth staying home and making it to work late today. It was a long wait until the foot of the Alp, but the heads of state didn't dissapoint. Once again the tactics of CSC-Saxo Bank paid off, and the ride that Sastre pulled was nothing but amazing. I have to say I didn't think he had it in him, but today Carlos was one cool customer. And speaking of such characters, his teammates, the Schelck boys, particulary Andy showed once again their class. Frank managed the group, while Andy close most of the attacks, with an ease that was just scary.

What was Berhanrd Kohl doing at the bottom of the climb is anyone's guess. He paid for it towards the end, but he hung in there. Also the "Silent Assassin" fought his way back after getting dropped for a few k's. CVV showed that yesterday was just a hiccup, the guy was riding on a cloud. Evans led from the front, not getting any help while he tried to close the gap to the winning Sastre. Epic stage on Alp d'Huez for sure. Will probably have to watch the last 10k tonight just for kicks.

Now we are down to the showdown on Saturday when the ITT will determine who will wear yellow in Paris come Sunday. Nail biting time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mountain shuffle

Yesterday during the rest day, most of the GC riders were commenting that the real race will start on today's stage. Seems like all of them were saving something special for the last two days in the Alps. And once again, CSC-Saxo Bank came ready to play. It's said that after a day off, your body doesn't react as well to the mountains, but the entire CSC-Saxo Bank squad seemed to have gotten through the day off pretty well. As the break went off the front, the yellow jersey guys decided to slowly increase the tempo to help get rid of some of the threats. Vande Velde's dream ride was shattered when he was dropped off the pace, and although he did a valiant descend, he still lost 2+ minutes on Schelck, Sastre, Evans and Menchov. Speaking of the Russian, he had some sort of difficulty on the last downhill part because he also went into the "I lost some time" club, giving up 33 seconds to Evans, not a good thing with the time trial looming ahead. John Lee Agustine decided to test his legs at the top of the last climb and the excitment was so big that he went dowhill racing on the other side. Did anyone found his bike yet?.

So, what's the prediction for Alp d'Huez? My take is that Menchov and Vande Velde will go for broke. Evans will wait until the last moment to decide if he's going to attack or not. And although CSC-Saxo Bank is riding strong, Schelck the senior better not have a bad day, because if he does, Riis better let Sastre go on his own, instead of keeping the Spaniard back to help tow the yellow jersey. For sure the biggest day of the tour will be tomorrow, so set the alarm for 6:30AM.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Oscar Freire seems to have a strong hold on the green jersey competition, finsihing strongly and winning yesterday's stage. Other than that, yesterday's stage was just, a transition one.

Today's however was what everyone was expecting, a free for all. Garmin-Chipotle again put a man in the long break and came so close to winning. Hats off to Danny Pate for a courageous ride. Speaking of guts, Aussie Simon Gerrans lacks none and fought his way to the victory. His team is searching for a sponsor and this surely is going to help. Just like Gerolstiner will probably benefit from Berharnd Kohl's ride, snatching the KOM jersey from his teammate and also climbing on the GC. Menchov and Evans suffered a bit but managed to stay in contention. Sastre surprised me the most because he looked in trouble for a while but took complete advantage of his team's work. Schelck is a happy camper today, but he'll have to get more time on the stronger time trialists. Too bad tomorrow's a day off.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Make it 4!!!

The British Cycling Federation is begging Mark Cavendish to pull out of the Tour, so he can be rested for the Olympics. But how can the guy stop when he's winning every flat stage in the race. With the Alps looming though his chances will go down and the amount of effort that will take him to get over them will probably prompt him to take the advice of his federation and head back home for some R&R. But man, is this kid fast or what?.

On the doping front, Ricco and Piepoli were let go by the bosses at Saunier Duval-Scott and the main sponsor is considering pulling out of the sport. Not good at all for anyone involved, especially the staff that probably had not much to do with those two guys getting into the bad stuff. To be continued on that one, for sure.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Count them, 1,2 3!!!!

Yes, 3 stages for young Mark Cavendish of team Columbia. The kid is nasty fast and is surrounded by a dedicated group of mates who will ride their hearts out for their sprinter. But also 3 is the number of riders caught doping, today's turn going to none other than Ricardo Ricco.

A big WTF?.

Seems like some guys just don't understand it. I would like to suggest a solution to help with the fighting cause. Penalize the team. That's right, make them pay. ASO had each team sign a contract in which it stated that if a rider was caught, the team would had to pay $100,000 back to the organizers. Beltran gets caught and ASO states that since Liquigas pulled him right away, they could continue to ride and no penalty was going to be applied. F$ck that my friends. The team has to be hold accountable for its riders. The pressure not to dope has to come within the team, after all it's not the rider who get caught who suffers, it's the rest of the staff and other riders (hopefully they are clean). It's difficult for riders to be policed by testers and their bosses, but in order to sort matters out, that's they way it's going to have to be, like it or not.

Enough of that. Cadel Evans was glued to Frank Schelck's wheel and that's what he needed to do to survive another day and get himself ready for the onslaught that awaits him in the Alps. The Australian is riding with what the italians call grinta, or guts. CSC-Saxo Bank is again preparing for an assault of biblical proportions, but I'm not too confident with Carlos Sastre. He needs to ride his heart out since this is probably his last chance at the helm of the team, and it's time to step up and lead from the front.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Status Quo..

Silence-Lotto wanted and needed days like today. Break goes off the front with non-threating riders, other teams pull a bit and Cadel gets a good recovery ride. Presto!, they got it.

Another case of the druggies getting caught but it seems to me like some of the media are paying less attention to Beltran and now Duenas' cases, and focusing more in stories like Christian Vande Velde. And the fact that the race is so close, talking about riders doping, and not big names at that, is not worth the effort. It shows that the sport is doing what it can to clean itself and they are catching those who dare. One or two might slip through, but they will not hide for long.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Swing of the pendulum

I was raving the last few days about how well drilled Caisse de Espargne is, doing everything right, with Valverde in the hunt. But no matter how good the team rides, if the leader is not ready to fight, there's nothing the other eight guys can do. Today we saw the beginning of the end for Valverde, as the Spanish national champ lost massive time, aloing with Damiano Cunego. And they have only one man to thank for that.

For ten days CSC-Sauxo Bank has kept Jens Voigt caged and today was the day the gate was opened and Voigt went on the prowl on the slopes of the Tourmalet. If the climb along didn't put fear in the souls of the riders, the German star set a fierce pace to the top, breaking the heart and will of most of the peloton. Aided by teammates Gustov, Cancellara, Arvesen and the younger Scheleck, the leaders of the Danish squad (Carlos Sastre and Frank Schleck) were getting the protection they needed.

Di Gregorio's escape was brilliant on Bastille Day, but it wasn't meant to last as behind, spearheading the chase, Voigt was towing the leaders for the final showdown on Hautacam. And they didn't dissapoint, although once Cobo, Pieopli and Scheleck the older were gone, it seemed like the Evans, Menchov, Vandevelde, Sastre group were playing cat and mouse games, with Ricco getting a ride with his two mates up front.

Saunier Duval-Scott was the big winner today. One-two on the stage, KOM and White jerseys, not a bad day at the office, with Ricco slowly climbing up the GC. Vandelvede's confidence has to be through the roof, but him and Evans have to be worried that their teams will have to step up to the plate.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I had to go with that title. "The Cobra" was suave today, again, utilizing his trusted teammate Leonardo Piepoli and setting off in search of his second stage. This brought back memories of another great italian climber of the 90s. Although Ricco announced early on that he wasn't chasing GC aspiriations, his latest stunt gained him one minute and with the next two stages suited to his capabilities, he might be the unknown quantity this year. Cadel Evans took a nasty spill, did you see the back of his jersey?, but he soldiered on and finish safely in the lead pack. Again, what can be said about Caisse de Espargne other than they are the top team in the race.

Yesterday I had to make a quick trip to Dallas, so there was no report. But I didn't want to spend much time talking about "Triki" Beltran's affairs. His A result is positive and chances are stacking against him that the B will be different. The attitude is positive though, since the tests are catching the cheats and that's what counts.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Team Work!

I said it once and I'll say it again, Caisse de Espargne is the strongest squad in the tour. They had at least four guys in the lead bunch at the end of the stage, protecting their leader (s) (Valverde and Pereiro) and at the same time, increasing their chances for the stage win.

And Luis Leon Sanchez did a superb ride, by going in the break, keeping an eye on things for the team. Once they were caught, he helped his boys with some of the pace setting and then decided to go for broke on the final descent. The motorcycle camera team had a rough time following the young Spaniard, as he set his sights for the finish line.

Kirchen defended his lead, spreading the effort of his team, and then closing the deal himself. Schumacher continues to show great form, attacking and keeping his name and his team's at the front. Devolder is back in action and the other contenders were present at the top, except Damiano Cunego, who again lost time today. Perhaps is waiting for the big climbs, but the last two days will probably be messing with his head.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


The pundits were right. The first prediction was that Stefan Schumacker could stay in the front group and he even looked good to challenge for the stage if it wasn't for Kim Kirchen's rear wheel obstructing the path of the leader up to that point and sendig him to the ground (that wasn't part of the prediction), and the other thing mentioned by those in the know was that the climbed suited Columbia's leader, Kirchen, well, he didn't dissapoint, although the Schumi crash bumped Kirchen's chances of riding in yellow. Ricco looked good, aided by the always in form, Leonardo Pieppoli. Caisse de Espargne looked impressive, but their leader hesitated a bit and was swamped by the charging climbers.

But what happened to Damiano Cunego? He was in all sorts of trouble when it was go time and the Lampre leader looked to be in a spot of bother, giving some time to his main rivals. Maybe he hasn't recovered from the tt just yet.

Evans in third on the stage and now second overall continues to ride the perfect race. Despite what people say about him not attacking, he is not supposed to attack just yet. Sitting six seconds behind Kirchen is where he wants to be at this stage of the game. Kirchen will have to show his cards this weekend and his team will have to continue to ride the wave of good form they are having in order for him to stay in yellow come Tuesday, but I don't think it will happen.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Getting it right..

The sprinters teams finally got it together today, but they sure left it late to close the gap to the three breakaways. And again it was the french teams on the attack, on a stage that didn't suit a break reaching the line, but since riders are making the race by taking chances, it took a huge effort to close the gap.

Columbia is riding on a high after signing their new sponsor and their riders have finished on the top spots in every stage so far, with Kirchen riding in green for a few days and Lokvist in the white jersey, no better way to grab publicity for the new boss. Gerosltiner also did itself another favor by staying in yellow on more day, helping its hunt for a sponsor.

Mark Canvendish showed once again that on a straight line, he's the fastest guy on two wheels. Each of the big sprinters was there, getting support from their teams, yet once the youngster from the Isle of Man took off, the rest were racing for second.

And today marked the end of the race for Mauricio Soler of Barloworld, who once again, managed to hit the deck. Poor guy, better luck next year. Tomorrow's stage to Supper Besse should be a dandy, a nice opening to a weekend of fireworks in the Pyrennes.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


For sure Steffan Schumacker was not ranked high on the list of possible winners, with the likes of Cancellara and Millar gunning for stage 4. But the German rider set a devastating pace through the 18 mile course to take home the stage and yellow jersey. And with tomorrow's flat stage, he's assured a day in yellow, at least.

Of the main contenders for overall victory, Evans, Menchov and Sastre all did fantastic job to move up or stay within striking distance of each other. Valverde however catapulted down the general classification and now has a tough job when the race enters the mountains.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Get some!

Sooner or later it was going to happen and today four brave warriors took the bull by the horns, by staying almost the entire stage in front of the peloton and with that, a new change on GC. Here at the house we were rooting for Will Frishckorn, but to tell you the truth, any of the four deserved the stage, after a truly gutsy ride. Faillou was on a high today and almost pulled the double, by winning the stage and taking the yellow jersey, but the shortest rider in the Tour, Samuel Dumoulin was quickets to the line.

The question for me in the last 25kms was, why was Quickstep pulling?. Presumably they had itentions of pulling the break and setting the sprint for Gert Steegmans, but he himself was helping to drive the pace. Maybe it was because the crash with 22kms that set them off, but again, with no real GC aspiriations, and with the break long gone, Quickstep wasted energy on a fruitless chase.

Denis Menchov and Ricardo Ricco were caught behind the last crash of the day and had to set hot pace to limit the damage at the end. Again, Ricco's team hesitated to help Rabobank to chase back on to the leaders and their deficit went from 15 seconds to 30+ at the end. This could hurt Menchov's hunt for yellow.

The rest of the main contenders were attentive enough to stay near the front and Caisse de Espargne again did another superb job escorting Valverde through the wind and rain. Evans and Sastre are quietly within striking distance, but the real fight for GC will start tomorrow with the ITT. We'll see who is in for real.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Making use of the excellent work that team Credti Agricole did, Thor Hushovd won the second stage of the Tour, giving his managers a boost in the search for a new team sponsor. Adding to that the green jersey for the day, and things are looking good for the boys in green.

Caisse de Espagne did their duty at the front controlling most of the peloton, keeping their leader safe and out of the blistering wind and allowing the french duo of Chavanel and Voeckler to venture ahead for most of the stage. Voeckler increased his lead on the KOM competition and Chavanel conquered the most agressive rider jersey. So far the fact that the race started without a prologue has proved a good choice. The racing, although nervous, has been exciting, especially in the last 20kms.

Cancellara did his usual trick towards the end, but unlike Milan-San Remo, Filipo Pozatto was paying attention, although both of their efforts came to nothing, as Hushvod sprinted for victory. Kim Kerchen had another good finish, but I'm wondering if his efforts will cost them later in the race. And poor Mauricio Soler had another hellish day, finishing another 7 minutes back.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

And there are off!!

The first stage of the Tour is in the books and it went pretty much as expected. The early break established a short lead and it stayed there. Their main concern was riding for the points and KOM jerseys, which were very hotly contested, with good ol' Thomas Voeckler becoming the first wearer of the polka dot tunic.

Crashes were the order of the day, with several minor pileups roughing some feathers. Cofidis lost Luclos-Lasalle to a broken wrist and Barloworld's attempt to the GC took a hit when their Colombian leader, Francisco Soler managed to re-hurt his hand/wrist and in the process lost a chunk of time while chasing back on.

Obviously the big winner today was Alejandro Valverde and his Caisse de Espagne team (that's one sexy looking bike he's riding). Although they will have to decide how to handle the enormous pressure of holding the leader's jersey, he has started on the right foot. On the other hand, today's loser is the aformentioned Mauricio Soler, and even though the race just got underway, he finds himself at a disavantage time wise.

Tomorrow's stage will pretty much be a copycat of today's, with the battle for the KOM's taking center stage. Ricardo Ricco is my pick for Stage 2, and with the win, he will increase his lead on the white jersey competition.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

It's time!!!, not for me to get back on the bike. That will take another 11 or so days since I'm having a great time with my two daughters so far, and to give you a tip, go watch Wall-E, it rules!!!. Not so for Kung Fu Panda, which the girls and I thought was a bit on the boring side, but Wall-E is a pretty good flick. But it's time for the big show, the mother of all bike races, no matter what the critics say, around this time every year, people just go ga-ga for Le Tour.

Since I have a little more time in my hands due to the lack of riding and the fact that both girls are into cycling, I'm going to evaluate each stage and give you my humble opinion on who rode great, average, poor and who just didn't have a clue each day. So come by and check the space now and then, leave your comments and enjoy the race.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Put a fork in it

The first part of the season came to an end today at Murad. Not much to report from the event, other than the crash looked pretty ugly and I managed to get through it by mere luck. Now it's time to pack the bags and head first to Dallas and then to Miami for some fun in the sun. "Lucinda" will receive some TLC from one of the best mechanics in the world, my dad, who will arrive in DC in a week's time. Oh, and I turn 35 tomorrow, so if you see me at the CSC Invitational, no jokes about getting old.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


The pesky cold that has planted in my chest seems to want to hang on a little longer and really enjoy the ride. After the debacle that the So. Maryland Crit was for me, the week leading to Bike Jam was not perfect preparation. Then again, I don't have a coach, don't own a heart rate monitor, SRM, Power Tap or any other technical gadget that's used to improved someone's form. I followed the prophetic words of Eunsebio Unsue (director sportif of Caisse D'Espargne, formerly known as Banesto)when he referred to one of his most important pupils' training: "What Miguel needs to get in shape are three things: 1) Bike, 2) Bike and 3) More Bike". When I heard those words in the autumn of 1991, my training routine for the next two decades was drawn.

So taking three days off because of work and my body needing some time to fight the aforementioned cold, riding pre Bike Jam was a battle in itself. Good thing Dani called me on Thursday to go to Hains because I would have bailed. 48 miles later, I was coughing all kinds of crap out of my chest and came pretty close to breaking a rib with the intensity of the hacking. Legs and lungs were not fully operational and I was fighting the bike, instead of feeling as one. Friday, Jose joined Dani and I for another stroll to Hains, this time at noon. Some frisky stuff there, but I kept a tight pull on the reins, not wanting to get too carried away. Again, coughing like crazy.

Jose and his parents picked me up at around 1PM and off to Baltimore we went. It took a while to get there because of some traffic issues and a route change, but eventually we arrived with plenty of time to spare. Not feeling up for the task at hand, I let myself slip into thinking that getting dropped was not a bad thing, since I was sick and all. Another half ass warm up around the park and then off to see the big guns finish. On the way there, Jose's dad kept telling me to just let the legs do the talking, but I was not sure the legs were wanting to talk.

Good thing we only stood at the start/finish for a short time and then the cat4 bunch was off. The pace was relentless from the word go, with a long line of single filed riders. Lap one I used to check out the direction of the wind and learn the turns. After a self check it became apparant that I wasn't feeling bad at all and proof to that was the gear ratio selection for each lap, spinning on the 16 or 17, a sign that the engine was firing in all cyclinders and most importantly, I wasn't fighting the bike. Despite the wind, I found it easy to move on the right side of the uphill section, however, I decided to sit at the back and just enjoy the race.

People were getting dropped thick and fast and in more than one occassion I could hear a rider about to lose contact with the pack, panting and grunting, with the fast pace claiming casualties on every lap. With 5 to go, my activities at the back were coming to an end and as the pack was in full flight, on the hunt of some fugitives that had left the comfort of the group. Again, picking the right lane up the hill was working fine for my now stealthy approach to the front, although I did have to hit the afterburner once when a few other fellas found the pace too hot to handle. Two to go and I was about to latch myself onto a good wheel to follow. I had a few choices, but the idea was to make the final assault on the right side of the uphill and my leadout man had to have the same idea. Riding like this is always fun because one has to improvise at the last minute. On the last lap, Jorge from Artemis was the wheel picked for the job and the selection of a gear that could propel me to the front was made. The accordion stretched on the 120 degree turn and I lost contact with Jorge, crap.

A hard jump out of the turn had me back in business, with the ever popular right lane wide opened as I approached the hill, and better yet, Jorge was just in front. And right when I stood to unleash hell, the crash happened to my left. Things turned into slow motion and I could see and hear trouble to my nine o'clock. Bodies hitting the deck and a bicycle without a rider was cause for concern, as it bounced, unsupervised, towards the path I wanted to follow to avoid any mishaps. Once again improvisation was necessary, this time to get me out of a rather dangerous situation. Jorge was still to my twelve o'clock, somehow he got through the mess, but my only option was to drastcially change my flight plan, turning to my right and getting on the grass, since the now riderless bike was an obstacle I was not wanting to deal with in any way. I'm not a fan of cross or mountain biking, but my short foray off road was necessary to keep my team kit and bike intact. Another quick jump and safe back on the tarmac and accross the finish. Jose was 4th, another good result for my Puerto Rican friend and I was delighted with my 16th. Before that race, I would have never thought that Bike Jam was going to be fun, with the way I was feeling before the start, but in the end, a little improvisation made for some good times.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I'm not making excuses, not at all, but the First Annual Southern Maryland Crit was not my event. After a recovery week last week, coming back from fighting a pesky cold, things were looking good on Thursday, that was until I saw "The Wagon"take a nasty spill. Friday, my friend Chance arrived from Atlanta for a business trip which included some riding. Chance is a product developer for Blue and I have known him and his better half for years. Since it had rained most of the morning on Friday, the crowd at Hains was minimal.

Saturday Chance met with the company's reps for the area and we did a leg of the MS150 in Loudon County. Very scenic loop, with some great views, and spectacular weather. As per custom, the harrassing was full on through the 60 or so miles covered, which translated into a great time on the bike.

This morning right as we were arriving in LaPlata the rain came, and it was on and off all darn day. I quickly made note of how the packs were breaking under the influence of pace, wind, wet road conditions and the odd crash, but still, I didn't know what to expect. It was without a doubt the smaller pack so far in any of the races I have taken part, and some familiar faces were present. Right off the bat, I had trouble clipping, and like I said, I'm not making excuses. I caught back on, and worked my way towards the middle of the pack, and it took me longer than I wanted. As soon as I got there, another accleration sent me backwards, so again, I worked my way forward. On the downhill/90 degree turn, another rider bumped into me as we were exciting the turn. The impact moved the computer which started to hit the magent on the wheel, making a very annoying "thung-thung" sound every time the wheel went around.

Now a bit pissed off because of the little things above mentioned, I thought I would give it a stick and try to reattach my sorry self back to the group and by God, I did, with the "thung-thung" blasting in my and everyone's ears. The effort took a bit more than I thought, and the Chicken Teriyaki sandwich I had for lunch almost made an appearance, going the reverse way it went in. And that my friends was it for yours truly. I made a half ass effort for one more lap and graciously waved at the chief ref as he signaled me to exit right at the start finish area.

Chance, who was witnessing the events unfold, wasted no time to start his famous bashing, which did nothing but improve my mood and no soon was he in full bashing mode that Jose rolled in, head down, disgusted at his performance, which only added wood to the fire Chance was feeding. Nothing like good friends around after a tough outting. Both Jose and I sat down, exchanged excuses as to why we rode so poorly, heard Chance bash us some more and watched the finish of the cat4s and gave a few of the guys some shouts to continue the fight. Kylelooked in control and had a good ride. The 1,2,3 was insanely fast, guys dropping left and right, due to the intense pace and constant attacking, it sure was fun to watch but even then, it looked really hard.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


After Poolesville I came down with a cold, perfect timing, right at the start of the busiest racing month of the year. Even though I wasn't completely out for the count, I had this nagging cough, congestion and overall crappy feeling all over, although and thankfully the fever stayed away. Hoping that a few days would take care of things, I didn't think twice about it and last Wednesday the early ride helped things, or so I thought. That night it seemed I took two steps back and the congestion was getting worse. Add to that the fact that the weather went pear shape and racing at Fort Richie was going to be a game time decision.

Saturday morning came and the rain was relentless, which sank all hopes I had to race. I cancelled with Jose since he was picking me up and instead I sat around and watched the Giro's TTT and came across Stefania Andriola, and just like that the rain stopped, things started to dry out and for a brief moment I thought of going to the race, such was the effect of Stefania. The bag was packed and the girlfriend did all she could to offer some support and encouragement to go racing. But knowing that with only one easy day of riding in the last 8 days, I was going to be easy prey, I decided to sit this one out and just get better for the next few events.

With only two stages so far in the Giro, all the main contenders are showing their cards early and that just makes the racing fun. I'm following the race on RAI, and aside from the video fee stopping every 14 minutes or so to reload, the commentating of Davide Cassani and Auro Bulbarelli is outstanding, and although my italian is limited at best, it sure makes for some interesting stuff. And of course, there's Alessandra De Steffano covering the interviews, and did I mention Stefania?.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


This morning I woke up feeling like royal crap. Even though I have managed to contain the virus (cold/flu) in my head, I still have that not so good feeling all over my body. So "Lucinda" (the bike) and I will not go out for some fun and games today. Instead I'm under the influence of Alka Seltzer Plus Cold Medicine putting up a good fight. Because of the free time, I surfed the net and saw this piece of news. The more I read it, the more confusing the story became. He's guilty, yet he doesn't get the full suspension and we are taking some of his victories but he can keep some. WTF?.

Then there's good old Patxi Vila and his just slightly high testosterone level. What gets me is the quote from the Lampre press officer: "He is an exemplary rider and we have faith in him," but if for some unexplained reason the B sample comes back positive, I'm affraid the feeling will not be the same and he'll get the boot. Just the law of the cycling jungle.

And last but not least, Astana is going to the Giro. Whatever the reason given for the last minute invitation, it would be interesting to see Levi and Alberto work for Andreas, who on paper, seems to be their best bet after his recent success in Romandie. Of course, if Alberto decides to make a point as to why they should go to France in July, that third week will be en fuego.

Alright then, time for me to take another dose. By the way, is Alka Seltzer in the UCI banned list of products?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

In the trenches

Last year's Poolesville race was pretty much over for me from the word go. Sitting dead last was not the place to be, and I found myself having to pass people and close gaps in the dirt section, which took a lot out of me. Lesson learned.

This edition was going to be different for me, so I decided to stay towards the front this time. No sooner had we gone through the neutral roll out and a DC Velo kid had the group single file. I wasn't completely warmed up yet and could feel my knees popping, but the effort kept the group in check on the approach to the dirt section. I entered it and took the right lane, which turned out to be, in my humble opinion, the wrong lane. It became littered with flying bottles and the "holes", looked more like trenches, which put an end to several riders' day. The rest of the first lap was without incident for me, other than having to give one of my bottles to Jose who had lost his onboard water supply. NCVC had a lone rider just off the front.

At the start of the second lap, the group picked up speed through the section of rollers at the beginning of the course, when all of the sudden the breakaway NCVC rider was laying on the road and it didn't look like he was getting up any time soon (hopefully you are OK dude). On the start of the third lap, the group picked up steam and we went through the roller section quite fast, and on the approach to where the NCVC had gone down, the motorcycle referee almost came to a complete stop, trying to warn the group that we had to slow down due to the EMT trucks attending the NCVC guy and Rayman who had also tasted pavement in the 40+/50+ race. Because of the sudden breaking, a crash almost happened, and Jose ended up having his front wheel hit someone's rear deraillieur, which caused two spokes to bend and his front wheel was pretty much out of commission. He kept going though, but his luck was about to run out.

Entering the "rider/waterbottle/flats/crash graveyard", two riders went down hard and everyone had to take evasive maneuvers to avoid colliding with the two who had gone down. I got through it just fine, but Jose's momentum carried him in a different direction and he was on a collision course with a girl and a tree. Thankfully, he picked the tree and came away with a bruised lower arm and his day was now officially over. The size of the group coming out of the gravel section was now about 25 riders, and we faced one more crossing before heading to the finish. Teams were playing their cards now, sending riders off the front, which caused the pace to stay a little high, but nothing too uncomfortable. That's until the beginning of the last lap, when a group of about seven riders went off the front and quickly got down to business. All of big teams were represented (Artemis, Capitol Hill, AABC) and it was left to the rest to close the gap. A Haymarket guy, on his way to the front, was pretty much on the yellow line and almost took me and another guy down. He made it there alright and then he went on to tow the rest of the group back to the leaders. I'm sure he paid for that one at the end.

Artemis then went on the offensive and sent a rider off the front, with a NCVC guy in hot pursuit. The two stayed out there through the feedzone when the last two Capitol Hill guys went to the front and ramped the speed up. It was time to find a wheel to follow and I went with a AABC guy on a Cervelo, but next thing I know, Jorge from Artemis came by and I got on his wheel. I knew Jorge was on good form because I saw him sprint on the Sunday ride and he was strong. And it was no different today, because with about 150m to go, he jumped hard and quickly got a gap. I reacted and went after him, but I wasn't going to get him, he was by far the faster sprinter and crossed the line first, just ahead of his teammate and I came in third.

A fantastic result for myself and the team, which is now sporting the new colors (mostly black, with some red and a touch of white), a very nice look if I say so myself. Now, I'm down with a cold, but things should be just fine for next week. Guys are going to be out for revenge for sure, but all I need to do is continue to ride with confidence and be aggressive.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Full schedule

The next month will be full of racing, with a race happening every weekend. I'm looking forward to it. One thing that I noticed after I moved to Virginia from Texas is that getting into a race here is harder than the actual race itself. If you are not on the computer at 8PM EST on the day the registration opens, you are S.O.L. In Texas, you could decide the night before if you want to race, drive to the venue and spend about 5 minutes in registration, no problems. Here, it's like a mad dash for the line just to get in.

So I have kept myself occupied by doing the 10AM and the 8:30AM rides on the weekends, taking Monday and Tuesday off, Wednesday is usually a struggle to get on the bike, with my body not wanting a piece of the action. Thursdays are spent at Hains Point in the afternoon and the rides have gone quite well. Big groups, fast pace, dangerous moments but overall I feel like it's helping me position myself better. Friday is back to Hains for an easy spin even though the odd guy likes to crank it up every now and then.

Caught a bit of the Versus coverage of Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Phil Liggett is a great guy (I know this because I once met him), but if I hear him call Alejandro Valverde, Alessandro, I may have to place a call to the studio in Stamford and have a talk with the man himself. I mean, for the past 20 years I have enjoyed his commentary along with Paul Sherwen's top class analysis of races, and who can't enjoy a Liggetism every time a doomed breakaway is about to get caught, and it's OK if every now and then he can't determine the identity of the riders at the front, middle or the back of the pack, come on, they are riding really fast and it's hard to catch those damn numbers, but for Pete's sake Phil (hopefully he reads my blog), it's ALEJANDRO when you refer to the Spaniard. Petacchi's name is Alessandro. Thank you.

Friday, April 25, 2008


That's how I'm feeling after having taken the first part of the week off. I like one day off after three days of riding; two days off are OK sometimes, but three is just pushing my luck. I develop a nice rhythm on the bike and then I go on a mini vacation and the whole thing falls apart, then it takes what it seems like ages to find the groove again. And to add insult to injury, a saddle sore showed its ugly face the other day. I thought the three days off would take care of it, but the bastard hung tough and put a semi concious battle. That's until it met its nemesis, Mr. Cortisone 10%. Hah, lets see who's laughing now.

So yesterday was back to Hains in the afternoon for some spinning fun. I got there right before 5pm and hooked up with Dani for some warm up laps. After a while the group was huge and the speed was up. It can be a little scary riding at Hains and I'm amazed that crashes don't happen that often, with all the "slower" riders, joggers, walkers, tourists, cars and of course the odd rider who decides to ride against traffic, WTF with these folks? A certain member of the senate made an apperance for a second time in two weeks and he was hanging in there.

Today I just went off for an easy ride on the trail and then went to Hains to spin. 30 minutes at a peaceful pace before someone ignited the fire and things went up to warp speed. At one point a motorcyclist decided to motorpace the group and that just did it for me. Back home to catch the end of the Tour of Georgia on the net. The weekend looks promising with the 10AM planned for Saturday and the Bicycle Place ride on Sunday, and riding to both rides from the house will add some mileage. Then May looks pack with racing, before the mid year break.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


The week prior to Carl Dolan went according to plan, and with the weather warming up everyday, the training block was a good one. However, mentally, I wasn't feeling it for the race. It wasn't anxiety or lack of confidence, I was just not looking forward to racing. And waking up at 3AM, listening to the rain outside didn't help matters one bit.

Jose showed up at the house to pick me up late, no big surprise there. The rain was still present and it made the drive to the race a quite one, with both of us having second thoughts, but not really wanting to tell each other so. Once at the venue, we saw the finish of the Women 4 race, before the rain decided it was time for us to seek shelter on the food tent on our way to the car. Again, the second thoughts began to wonder and this time we decided to talk about it. That was until Jose started to play AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" and even though it was pouring out, the mood quickly changed. So we just kept playing the song over and over again.

The 3/4 race was going well for me despite the lack of mental motivation, my legs were feeling great and I was comfortably sitting at the tail end of the group. The pace was steady through out the race until the big pile up happened. Nasty stuff, bodies flying, screams, bikes and parts. It was sketchy for a brief moment, with the left, right and center blocked with the victims and their rides. Then the officials stopped the race so the ambulances could take care of the injured riders. Don't know exactly how many people were hurt, but I hope you are all doing OK. I haven't checked the results, but it sure was fun doing a slow motion sprint with Kylefor one of the last places.

Friday, April 11, 2008

"It's Friday man!"

Finally the legs and arms got to taste the sun. After months of hiding under warmers and jackets, it felt good to get some sun. Yesterday there were all kinds of riders and tourists doing their thing at Hains Point. Luckly, there were not close encounters for either of the two parties taken over the park. I logged about two hours and saw some of the girls from the team doing their intervals. They looked sharp and the results they have gotten so far shows that their hard work is paying off. Hopefully some will rub off to the rest of the squad.

Today I "attempted" the noon ride. Got there right at 12 and there were only six riders. By the end of lap one the group had grown to about 15, but the presence of a few Harley Davidson guys was enough to know that we were in for some fun times in the pain box. I did my mandatory pull at the front during lap two, keeping the throttle at around 21mph. This speed of course was too slow for the faster ones in the group and no soon had I gotten to the back of the pack that the pace was ramped to about 28mph, courtesy of the aforementioned HD boys.

Tongues out, single file and dodging the odd driver trying to parallel park, the group quickly started to shed the weaker mortals. On the airport side, I found myself behind a rider on a Colnago, from a team with a brownish jersey (something BET or VET), anyhow, the guy let a small gap open and two NCVC guys jumped from behind trying to stay in touch with the front guys. Colnago dude is now working hard but we are still not gaining ground, so as I jumped to try to latch onto the now almost gone train, the guy yells at me, "It's Friday man!". Never saw him again.

Gone was the group, I didn't close the gap, and neither did the two NCVC guys. A few more laps around for good measure and then back to the house with a quick stop at the airport to see the planes land. Matt (from Colavitta) came by and we rode part of the way home. Hopefully the rain will stay away until the afternoon tomorrow, so a ride can be accomplished, if not, there's always Sunday, and the warmers and the jackets will get to shine again.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A day of firsts

After Walkersville yesterday, I went to the team's "meet-n-greet" and had a blast. A few Amstel Lights were consumed and chatted with members of the team. Got home relatively early and then the rain started. At about 4AM I was half asleep and I could hear the rain outside, still though, I was banking on the weather forecast, for the rain to stop right around noon. The morning came and Jose was on the phone as I was packing the car, and he didn't sound to sure about making the drive to Tysons, but it was Tour of Flanders weekend, and so to the race we went.

The minute I clipped my feet, I knew the legs were recovered from yesterday's festivities. The warm up wasn't ideal with the rain and cold, but still, I managed to stay warm and dry as much as possible. The call was made for the riders to lineup and the ref told me my number was too high. That's a first for me since the girlfriend is pretty good a pinning the numbers, except today. I was starting next to Raymanso he kindly unpinned the number and the ref finished the job. Thanks Ray!

The race was the usual stuff, with guys keeping an eye on lines and giving each other enough space to move around. I went without sunglasses and had to fight the rooster tails for a bit, but I was able to move around without too much trouble. Although the legs felt good, the rest of the systems were not firing at optimal level, so for a few laps I stood on the pedals on the hill and slowly brought the heart rate up to where it needed to be. Tysons was my first race in the DC area last year after moving from Texas and my fan base was very limited then, but I'm happy to report that with my girlfriend, Dani who was there for the beginning, Gary, and some of my teammates, I heard my name out there and it sure helped.

Up the hill and I see "7 laps to go", so I started to work my way to the front, again, saving as much energy as possible and gaining ground with each lap. The next check I did to the lap counter was at 3 laps and I was about 10th wheel, but then I got caught up in the action and lost track of how many laps were left, so with two to go, I went inside on the last turn, and found open space, the guys were stringing things out but I'm sprinting hard, thinking to myself this is it!. People are screaming and I'm thinking at least a podium spot. The bike rolls over the line and I made eye contact with my girlfriend, but it seemed wierd to me that she was jumping up and down. Then I heard her say, "you still have one more lap". WTF!!. Another first one.

"Stay cool man, reload and give it another go!" was my thinking, so I went back in the group, took a few deep breath and avoided the NCVC guy who somehow went down on the first turn. His look was pretty funny (sorry dude!), but I didn't have much time to laugh. Down the hill, and I lined up for the sprint about 15th wheel, but when I stood again wanting to stump the pedals, the legs were like two rags in the wind, so I sat down, greeted the teeth and saw Jose take a fine win. So a day of firsts but with another positive sign that the form is good and my confidence in the pack has reached highs that I haven't experienced for a very long time. Now I'm taking it easy this week, and then back into the action.

We sat around to cheer the boys on the 3/4 and it was a good and bad day for the squad. Jeff won the race with an impressive sprint, but Scott went down hard and although preliminary reports indicate that nothing is broken (but he'll need a new handlebar for sure), he will be out of action for a bit. Wayland and Tom did a good job, with Wayland putting in some digs at the front, while smiling all the time.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Tactical Mistake

The weather gods blessed the later races with sunshine and warm temperatures at Walkersville, but the strong wind was distributed equally amongst all the fields today. As usual, I made the trek to the race with Jose and we were up to our usual tricks. Once on site, he was first off the blocks with the CAT4s. I played photographer for a bit and then settled back in the car waiting for the Masters 35+ 4/5 race. In the process I ran into some of the girls from the team who had performed another hit by winning the road race for the second week in a row. Also I caught up with Rayman and we agreed on helping each other as much as possible.

We started late and that was fine by me, the later it got, the warmer it got and since I'm solar powered, I was feeling pretty good. First lap went without much noise and I stayed close to the front just in case. On the second lap there was someone off the front and the pack was content with having them for a while. But once he was caught, I made a move on the last right turn of the course and a Kelly rider came with me. We quickly opened a gap and the two of us traded nice, smooth pulls until the right hand turn after the finish line.

The wind in that section was the strongest and my companion suggested to change our tactic to shorter pulls, keeping the pace even and I agreed 100%. As we were nearing the end of the "windy section" I glanced back and noticed that the pack was about 50 yards behind, with one lonesome guy in between. It was then that I decided that our time off the front had come to an end and it was back to the comfort of the pack. But unknown to me, my break buddy kept his nose on the stem and the lonesome guy caught up to him, and by the time the pack got to me, the pack's speed went condiserably down, allowing the two guys upfront time to continue the escape. Then it hit me, the two guys at the front had the most teammates each and each team proceeded to slow the chase and disrupt any attempt of bringing them back. So the lead went from almost 10 seconds to 35 seconds and that's all it took. They stayed away for the rest of the race and I was in the now diminished chase group.

Rayman, Lance (from ARBT), a Coppi guy and the dude who was at the front early on did their best to organize a chase, but it was a numbers game. As we headed towards the line, I moved up towards the front but was exposed to the wind from about 500 meters, so my sprint amounted to just pretty much nothing. Nonetheless I was very happy because for once I was out there, making people chase me instead of the other way around and it was fun. True I made a tactical error by not staying at the front, but I'll take it as a lesson. The legs felt great and it was tons of fun.

Of course there were some who complained about getting boxed in. Next time ride aggressively and maybe you'll find the room. And it's always the guy who finishes way back who makes such statements. Congrats to Mark from Kelly Benefits who put on an amazing effort to stay off the front and get the win.

Hopefully tomorrow the legs will be there again, but as I type this, rain is beginning to fall. It's Tour of Flanders time.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Already Thursday

The blog made its first official link appearance on Gamjams yesterday and it got about 50 hits in just one day. Thanks for reading. Not much going on this week as far as riding goes, since Monday was a scheduled day off, Tuesday was also taken off, yesterday I went to New York for work and today I finally got to ride 25 easy miles. I decided to switch my seatpost back to the Specialized one and this put the saddle 12mm further back than I had it. Riding felt just a little more comfortable, but only if I stayed on the top of the bars, anything else was almost out of the question. So back on is the Thomson one and this time at a much more managable 5mm back from my old position. I'm trying to find the sweet spot where I can ride without the nagging pain on my left shoulder after about one hour.

The "Holy Week" is going on over in Belgium and Tour de Flanders should be a nice this year, with the weather playing a big role this time around. Wind, rain, hail and maybe some snow is expected, and the mercury will probably top 5 degrees centigrade. The locals are in for a great race and hopefully we can catch some of the action on the tele on this side of the pond.

Walkersville and Tyson's Corner are next on the agenda. I'm doing my very first Masters race (I'm getting old!) and I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully it will be a bit harder than Jeff Cup and the racing will be on. It's hard for me to make preditcions about attacking and putting the hurt on the field, but if I see Kyle or Rayman I might just talk to them about distributing some justice to the pack. Look out now!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Jeff Cup

Probably one of the coolest races I have done in my time (and believe you me. I've done my share of racing). The rolling enclosure feature was great, the course was fun (especially the dowhills) and the other 124 dudes in there, well, what can I say. For the day, I travelled down with Jose and Dan and met my teammate Wayland from Richmond. The plan for the group (even though we race under different colors) was to stay clear of any crashes and race hard. My personal goal was to work on positioning in the bunch, something I was planning on focusing big time.

As I age, I tend to get grumpy before a race, don't really know why, but it just happens. It's even part of my pre race routine along with the usual trip to the "green or blue house" depending on the color at each venue. So pinning my number, I'm complaining about how cold it is, about how the sore throat is getting worse, the economy, you name it. Dan gets me going for our warm up and things start to feel better, the legs are spot on, the lungs are working well and the bike feels good. Mood begins to shift from grumpy to a little less grumpy, which I take as a positive sign.

At the start line Jose is the one complanining about how cold it is. I'm thinking to myself that it's hot and pleasant, anything to keep the head occupied thinking about something else other than the weather. Off we go and I'm at the front of the pack, feeling good but as we rolled through the start finish, the left side of the road gets crowded all of the sudden and we are racing. I stay at or near the front for most of the first lap taking note of the group's movements. The usual kamikaze rider or three is present and as is customary near me. On the second lap my legs decide to take a break going up the long hill and I find myself in a spot of bother for a brief moment. I pulled the throttle back, letting my body catch a break and it did the trick, as I started to feel better right at the top, but found myself in what I thought was the middle of the pack, so I glance back and realized I was the tail. Move up time.

Throughout the race, I kept an eye on the boys and they all seem good. Wayland was looking good, moving around the pack and several times we checked with each other to see how each was feeling. I caught up with Rayman and Kyle and had a brief chat with each of them. On the final lap, I was expecting things to go nuts, at least the three kamikaze riders I had spotted were now gone and that was one (three!) less dangers everyone had to deal with. Up the hill one last time and things are looking good, I'm moving easily and with confidence towards the front, taking my time getting there and doing it as subtle as I could. We are approaching the last turn and I am remembering the advise given, "don't be at the front at the turn, it's way to far out from the finish", and right when I make my turn, a NCVC rider onboard a BH bike suddenly changes his line and it's on a direct collision course with my front wheel. Only a Robbie Mcewen-esque move saved me from tasting pavement. Instead of giving the guy an earful, I went on, now trying to make up for lost ground and to my surprise, the field spread out. Back on, I started to pick my way to the front and was sitting right in the middle, not where I wanted to be, but at least I wasn't at the back.

The elastic started to stretch one last time and I was expecting the road to open up a bit on the left side from the last 300meters on, but too many people just sat up in the middle of the road and even though I managed to zig zag my way through many of them, it wasn't enough to unleash a proper sprint. And there was no point risking a crash for 50th place (officially 28th!). Across the line and Jose was by my side with Dan a few bike lenghts ahead. Overall it was good, the legs felt good and I'll chalk the brief moment of panic on the second lap to the cold weather. Moving around the pack was accomplished and I felt comfortable doing it, not stressed.

Caught up with Wayland on our way back to the school and went over how the race went for each of us. It was actually cool having someone else with the same jersey, and it sure did help to draft behind him a few times. The week is looking gloomy on the weather side of things and but at least nextweekend is full of racing and the team's dinner throwing in there for good measure. Good times!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Resting and Waiting

So this week is just a "chill" week for me, after some crazy mileage last week. I'm laying low waiting for Jeff Cup, doing the early thing over at Hains Point, but again, nothing big, just spinning and resting. Today I wasn't feeling too hot, but I'm not going to worry one bit. The goal is to work hard on positioning and then continue to improve through out the season.

We are supposedly having friends arriving from the Lone Star State tonight, but thanks to American Airlines two of them are stranded in Dallas. Hopefully they can get things worked out and head over this way so we can celebrate the girlfriend's birthday on Saturday. No worries, I'll keep in mind that Jeff Cup is the very next day, so I'll limit myself to two bottles of wine!

And rumor has it that Dani's secret training is getting him ready for his big ride (or as he loves to call it, the World Champs), but that's according to whom you ask. Word on the street is that he was dropped several times today. I can't confirm nor deny such allegations, but my source can be trusted.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

More miles

Yesterday the plan was almost executed. Riding the 7AM ride had me feeling a little blue, but once we stopped to wait for the 10AM ride to start, my legs were finally ready. But, there's always a but, the weather had something else in mind. The sky had a not so inviting gray look to it, and we were keeping an eye on the road and an eye on the ever changing meteorological conditions. Next thing I know the rider next to me asked "is that hail I feel coming down?". I don't have a problem getting wet (or in this case, pelted by little ice missiles) if the temperature is above, lets say, 80 degrees, anything below that and I will head indoors faster than a Robbie McEwen sprint.

The hail picked up in intensity for a brief period and Jose was wondering what we should do. "Lets push on a little further and then turn around", I said to him and Dan and we continued on, until the first stop sign (the one before the 7 Eleven), where we had determined the turn around point was. The three of us had a close encounter with a 60+ lady and her Chevy Malibu, and when Jose proceeded to "explain" to her that her move was too close for comfort, she started to tell us all about the law and that she knew it all. Her husband seemed to have better common sense and kept quite. But not soon were they moving again that the old fart flipped us the bird. Priceless. The computer showed 80 miles and the legs felt pretty darn good.

Today the Bicycle Place ride got fast almost from the gate and the group broke up earlier than usual. Up Mass. Ave, the pace was good and the A minus or B plus group (depending on how you want to look at it) kept a festive pace even though on Clara Barton things got a bit disorganized. Up Great Falls I found myself on the front with Dani and the rest of the group in tow, so I decided to sit there and set a pace that wasn't going to kill me, but hard enough that everyone stayed behind. Down the park some us went and that was it for the group, as some people decided not to do the park climb and continued on. After a long and hard chase by Dani and his group, I gave them a hand to close the gap to my group and from then on, Dani and I made sure that at least one of us was at the front all of the time.

Legs feel good, even though is taking a long time to get the diesel engine running at a prime level, but I'm hoping that with warmer temperatures in the near future, things will get clicking a lot easier. Jefferson Cup is next week, and then Walkerville and Tyson's Corner. Fun times on the horizon.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I'm ready..

It's getting to be about damn time for this winter crap to go away and the spring/summer temps to take over. Ohh, and the wind can go to hell too as far as I'm concerned. There, I feel better.

Picked up Jose today and rode from "la casa" over to Hains Point and did the usual stuff with the bunch. Then we headed to Great Falls for some fun and games up and down the hills, doing some pretty good work. We bypassed Clara Barton because of traffic but more because neither of us was in the mood to fight the wind. It actually was a great idea to go the backway, because we took it easy, picked up another rider on the way and chatted a good part of the ride, until the hill of course. After a brief intermition to refuel, we headed back to Alexandria, this time aided most of the way by a tail wind. Again, we kept a nice tempo, but a conversational one. We are both ready for Jeff Cup, the base was laid and now we'll see if the results will show. I want to improve my positioning this year, and hopefully doing all the group rides has helped some, but of course on race day you get the usual wanker(s) that thinks he is going for the World Champs instead of a local race and puts himself and the rest in danger, by acting like a complete moron. But I'll try to stay calm and do my thing.

The weather is calling for 45% to 60% chance of rain tomorrow, depending on who "the guesser" is, so we are closely monitoring the climatic conditions, because tomorrow we are planning a "doble tanda". Hopefully Dan and Dani will join us in the suffering, I mean, the fun.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Almost time

First, congrats to Jose for 4th at UMD over the weekend. I know for a fact that he has trained hard this winter and the guy is flying. Excpet on the last climb before my house where usually he gets to see the back of my jersey, but even now is getting harder and harder to get by him. From what he told me about the race, it was good fun, even though some of the blogs that I read had a different view on things. Nonetheless, I was prepping up to do Tradezone and bypassed UMD on some last minute intel that I got. Dumb move on my part because it rained on Sunday morning.

Today it was the usual stroll to Hains Point at 9AM, with the wind, cold and the park guys doing some house cleaning. Nothing to report other than it was windy, cold, the park crew picked up the trash and some branches and I was not having a good time at all!. But there's always tomorrow, right?.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Good sensations

Yesterday I felt really tired, and it took a while to get the good sensations back, but Jose and I rode from my house to Hains Point and thankfully, the Friday noon ride turned into a small ring affair. Which was just what I needed to give the legs a proper recovery ride.

Today I ventured out to the 10AM ride, my first one of the year since usually I'm at work on Saturdays. There was a small group due to perhaps the few races going on today and tomorrow. As soon as we left the park, the pace ramped up courtesy of a few guys who seem to enjoy making life hard for everyone else. I hung in there until the first hill on Glen Rd. when I mentally just switch off and brought my throttle back down. There were a few riders in between the first and second group, so I got together with two other guys (one on a black Colnago and another on a Trek 2300) and we pressed on.

Soon it was just me and Trek guy, so we took turns fighting the wind and keeping a good, consistent tempo. The sun was out and it turned out to be another good ride, a good test to see where I stand right now form wise.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Great day

What a day today was. Got off work around 3:30PM and headed to Hains Point to do laps with some intervals thrown in for good measure. After a few laps warming up, a group started to form and next thing I know we are flying on the airport side, courtesy of a strong tailwind. The laps kept piling on but I wasn't feeling tired and instead kept a good pace in between hard efforts and at the end of the ride, the computer showed 57 miles. I never knew I could ride 57 miles at Hains Point, but having a group to ride/talk with sure made it easier and even fun.

Haven't made up my mind yet about Tradezone, but it's looking like I'll go to check things out. No UMD for me, from what I was told, the course it pretty tight and I might go to watch Jose do his thing. Again, not sure just yet, it will depend on the weather.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Here I go again, rode three days off and then, work throws me a curve ball. The bad part is that tomorrow will be a long day, starting around 6AM and going all the way to 11:15PM, nice!!!. The good part is that I wasn't planning to ride tomorrow anyway and now because of the long day ahead, I will actually leave work early Thursday afternoon to do a ride, so at the end it works in my favour. Friday and Saturday are looking like long days on the saddle. The plan is to do a ride with Jose on Friday and maybe we can recruit Dani for the Saturday double. Sunday is up in the air, don't know if I'll do the last Tradezone or the regular Bicycle Place ride.

Looks like The Pro Bike shop is opening a store in Alexandria, about 1 mile from my house which is great. Two bike shops within riding distance, that's good news. Other than that, today's ride at Hains Point was without incidents, same as yesterday and the wind was light so it didn't feel cold at all. Looking forward to the weekend and maybe, just maybe, a ride without knee warmers.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Wussology (from Greek: "Wuss"= ME!!!!, and logy "knowledge"). You can say I'm some what of a "wussologist" because this past week I earned my phD on the matter. After a pretty good ride last Monday, things turned bad. Because of crappy weather and work continues to get in the way of the training. Perfect conditions for me to improve my studies in wussology. When I thought I was breaking the habit of riding 4days and then taking 4 days off (for the reasons already mentioned), the pattern continued and on Friday I graduated with top honors after confirming that I'm indeed a wuss. I woke up early with all the intentions of riding, but a quick look outside and my mind started to wonder why the hell did I want to go and ride. I mean, rain was fast approaching and it was pretty darn cold. So, I wussed out.

Yesterday, well it rained forever and instead I went shopping with the girlfriend. Got that one out of the way before the season starts and the weather imrproves. Late last night Dani called to confirm that I was doing the Bicycle Place ride and I had already committed with Dan, so I was in no matter what the weather channel said about high winds and low wind chills. This morning I got up, but the fire inside wasn't there, and I started to take my time getting ready, sings of a great wussologist. Finally out the door, I didn't feel the wind and the thought that the sun was out started to improved my mood. A stop at the gas station to fill up the car put an end to all hopes of riding, when a nasty gust of wind hit me straight on. The white flag went up and I drove back home, changed and hit the couch. At 8:22AM Dani called to check where I was and I had to tell him that I was wussing out of the ride. I'm sure I will hear that one for a while, the Spanish Mafia is pretty hard on wussys, so I have a few lashings coming my way.

Sinking now into mild depression, because I started to feel like I was coming down with a cold, my thoughts of riding kept getting pushed farther and farther away and it took some soul searching to finally get dressed for a second time for a ride. Checked the weather channel and the wind was WNW at 13 mph, which in reality meant, it was windy as hell. Out the door and I'm thinking how bad this ride is going to be, 5 days off, maybe a cold on the way, the wind and wind chill, good stuff if I want to wuss out. I soldiered on and God bless the Ipod and AC/DC because once the famous Aussie band started to jam in my ears, my legs came to life. Screw the wind, and cold, I was on a mission. At Hains Point I started the first lap and got behind a pick up truck for some motorpacing action. Perfect, the driver kept a steady pace all the way around and let me tucked in behind. "Highway to Hell" comes on and I'm kicking a nice tempo, the laps keep flying by and after about one hour, I decide to push on and do a few more, better ride this wave as long as possible. Everything is working perfectly and despite the wind, I'm enjoying the work. On the way home I pondered on how easy is to be a wuss, and the last five days were confirmation that, with all the right ingridients in place, I can be a good one. However, overcoming wussiness is something that we all most learn, and that is a work in progress for me.

Monday, March 3, 2008

It's back

The rhythm that is. We (The Spanish Mafia) went out today and did part of the 10AM ride, leaving from my house in Alexandria. Total distance was around 70 miles and the wind made it feel more like I rode 100 miles. But the sun was out and and it was warmer. The last two days I had a terrible time trying to get going, nothing seem to work, so I decided to not worry about it and just give it some time. Last night we went to Dani's house for the monthly feast (and beers!) and today I was feeling good again. Maybe that's what I needed, a couple of Coronas and about 10 lbs. of Argentine style barbecue to get the engine back on track. The rest of the week looks like crap training wise thanks to work. It will be all early, early rides and long days at work, but I will not make the same mistake of taking 4 days off in a row. That was just crazy.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

More of the same

I felt like nothing was working today. Even though the sun was out, I was cold, and my legs seem that were not adjusting to the temperature. Dani and Dan were asking me if we were going to "survive" with the A group or stay behind and ride with the B. I told them that it was going to be decided at the top of Mass. Cresting the hill and the A bunch is about 50 yards infront and in between there are a few more riders, so I'm thinking I will catch them without too much trouble. Of course, that didn't happen as riders were not willing to work and entering McArthur, I decided to let the front group go and wait for the second. But they never came, instead it was me, a DC Velo guy and two Bicycle Place riders trading pulls on Clara Barton. But I just didn't have the right feelings and couldn't get into a rhythm, and the B group was nowhere to be found. Up Great Falls I was setting a nice tempo, just hoping that the legs would open up. DC Velo guy and I went down the park and on the way up I started to feel a little better, but when he decided to sprint to the top, the legs finally decided to work. The rest of the ride I felt better and better, never 100%, but at least things were improving. Now I'm looking forward to tomorrow's warm weather and some long miles with the Spanish Mafia. Should be tons of fun and maybe the weather will help my condition.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Where's the rhythm?

Gone, that's where...Monday was the last time I got on the bike this past week and today, man, did I feel it. Good thing I skipped the 7AM massacre because it would have turned into a very bad scene for me. Instead I headed to Hains Point for a few laps, to try and get the legs and lungs to respond again. Crossing the 14th street bridge was an accomplishment because the wind was steadily picking up and although I wasn't completely sideways, I had to do a number to keep from getting thrown onto traffic on 395. The first two laps were nothing to write home about, nothing seemed to function right. I felt uncomfortable, figthing the bike, and the aforementioned wind wasn't helping either on the airport side. Luckly the Ipod started to pump some nice tunes and when AC/DC all of the sudden kicked in, things went from bad to OK. The feeling began to change and things looked promising but it was time to head back home, damn I hate having to work on Saturdays. On the 14 street bridge I ran into Matt and we rode back to Alexandria together, chatting and talking about the up coming races. Matt is heading to Tradezone tomorrow and he should do good there. I will probably head to the BP ride and then, of course, back to work.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ups and Downs

The last few weeks have gone totally crazy at work. Today, the schedule for my department came out and I'm working more than I wanted to. It's a complete pain in the ass because if I want to ride, then I'll have to do it early in the morning before work and maybe, just maybe, I'll get a Saturday off here and there. But I guess things could be worse. At least Het Volk is Saturday and things look a lot warmer than here over at the Vuelta a Valencia in sunny Spain. The only thing I keep telling myself is that is a long season and hopefully I will not run out of juice in August like I did last year.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Fun Rides

The phone rang at 10:45AM, and Dani was ready to ride after having a bout with some bug for the last 72 hours. Not soon had I gotten off the phone with the "pelotudo", Jose was ringing me to see what the plans for the day were. "A nice stroll to Heins because Dani is coming back and he wants to ride slow, besides, my legs feel a bit cooked from the weekend". Enrique made his usual appearance, because the guy is a flatlander and he likes to remind us of that everytime he gets a chance. At HP, we joined the group at the end of the first lap and I was thinking to myself, "this pace is nice, small ring and spinning, exactly what the legs need". But as is customary with the HP crowd, by lap number three the action was full on. Thinking that I'm not wanting another beating, I find my usual spot at the end of the group while the other three amigos are trading punches at the front. First attack with Jose in it breaks the group and I wait as the second group comes by with Dani and Enrique, I continue to wait and now the third and last group goes by and I latch on. After an upbeat chase, I spot Dani coming backwards, he tried to get on the wheel, but the engine was broken, "no mas". Next is Enrique who hangs there for a few more laps until one hard acceleration puts an end to his day in the group. Jose is still up there and I'm content (actually I'm hanging on for dear life) to see the exchange from the back. I had forgotten to check the time but I feel a extremely hard acceleration and my legs are not responding, and as I glance down I see "12:56PM" on my computer, signalling this is the last lap, so I give it one more hard effort to stay with the group, and Jose is doing the same, as I see him giving it all he has, but in my case, the engine room was closed and the group pulls away. Got dropped 200 meters from the finish, which is probably the best I have done so far at HP. Usually I last about two laps, so not bad considering the long miles of the weekend. Afterwards we sat around and joked and talked about each others ride. This is part of why I like riding with the "Spanish Mafia", it doesn't matter how good or bad you rode, the trash talk will be there no matter what and it makes it for some really fun rides.