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!