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.