Monday, June 20, 2011

Bullets on Crystal Cup Cat 3/4 Race

Controlling the field with 2 to go.
Photo Credit: Daniel Meaurio
Little short on time for a full up post so here are some bullets on the category 3/4 Crystal Cup race.
  • Aggressive racing by Bike Doctor
  • Good counterattacks off teammates to take premes
  • First preme I nabbed with a counter on Rist after the second turn. Had to gas it for about 1.5km and held off the field
  • 7 crashes in 14 laps, ouch, even had to stop the race early on
  • I stayed in top 10 most of the whole race
  • Love courses with 180's for blocking. We were able to slow the pack down considerably when we had guys off the front

Sunday, June 12, 2011

5000 ft of climbing takes its toll - Tour of Mt. Nebo Report

Not really but it sure felt like it!
I had heard about the Tour of Mt. Nebo road race and how great the course was but hadn't checked on the date details until I stumbled upon it while in PA for a buddy's wedding. I was planning to leave on Saturday from the wedding and figured I would surf to see if any races were on the way home. Well low and behold I saw Tour of Mt. Nebo right in my path. Sign me up! I figured my new Cannondale Supersix would turn me back into the climber I used to be before I gained 10+ lbs from my old race weight.

The night before was the wedding and we partied pretty hard. So hard that my wife and I forgot our phones at the reception. Whoops! Luckily I did pass out around 11pm and got a good night's sleep at the foot of the bed on the floor. Not sure how I missed the bed but I snuggled up with my wife about midway through the night. Bare with me on the digression.

That morning I couldn't find my phone and it was getting close to the time I needed to leave. I checked a few places around the hotel with no luck. So I went to the business center, mapped directions from google maps and hit the print button. Man talk about old school. I was looking at close to thirty turns to get to the race with very little room to spare. I said goodbye to those that were awake and hit the road.

Luckily I didn't miss any turns and made it to the race with about 30 minutes to spare. Don't worry I wasn't planning to warm up because the race was longer than any training ride I had done this year.

Race time conditions were pretty good, sunny, high 80's with some wind. I was concerned not having someone to feed me and decided to stage my cooler at the top of the feed zone and if I got real desperate I would try to get ahead of the pack, stop and grab some bottles. Luckily I had also grabbed a couple of packets of Gatorade Prime and stuffed those in the jersey along with a Gu and two large water bottles (with three capsules of endurolytes in each). The Gatorade Prime came in very handy and allowed me to not have to stop for my cooler because they have a considerable amount of liquid calories.

The race was scheduled for 5 laps of a 9 mile circuit with a reported 1000+ feet of climbing per lap.

We started off in a rolling neutral for the first mile. The flag was dropped and the racing began. I tried to stay in the top 15 or so and occasionally institute the fat man fade. For those that don't know this is where you start at the front of the group and slowly fade back as you are climbing. It works great as long as the group is big enough. During the race there wasn't much attacking but just steady leg breaking tempo up the climbs. I knew the best way for me to survive was to spin like a mad man up the climbs and thankfully I had a 25 tooth cog to make this happen. I kept looking around and seeing guys that weighed a little over a plastic bag and thought to myself what the heck am I doing here.

By the completion of the 3rd lap I looked around and saw the group was reduced to about 20 riders from the original 55 and I was starting to think that I might be able to finish pretty well in this race. Of course, nothing in bike racing is ever that easy and on one of the big descents on the back side a guy mid pack decided it was a good time to invert his bicycle. I am not sure how it happened but all I saw was a guy endo with his legs flying up in the air and then lots of sliding on the ground at 40+ mph. Ouch!! The last part of his skin reduction treatment involved him sliding on his arse. I think he is going to need a butt donut for a little while. Unfortunately for me, I had to grab a handful of brakes to avoid a similar fate and this caused me to be unhitched from the group.

Once I got back up to speed, I buried my head and charged on to reconnect with the group. Thankfully I was able to latch back on after a mile. The only problem was that just after I came back we were starting the big climb on the backside of the course. I held on as long as possible but lost contact about midway up the climb. I kept going as best I could with the only hope being that I would be able to join other dropped riders to chase back on. Once I got to the top I looked back and saw two guys that were close and I waited for them. We chased for about 2 miles and were able to get back on.

Proof I was in this, me with head down.
Photo Credit: Julie Elliott

I was not looking forward to tackling the finishing climb to enter the last lap but the climbers of the group decided a moderate pace was sufficient for this lap. The rest of the last lap was pretty tame until 1k to go, when a guy took a flyer leading up to the finishing climb. I was a little too far back and a lead group of 6 separated from the rest of us. I managed to move my way up during the climb but suffered like a dog. I think people from three counties over could hear me breathing. I was closing on one guy with 100 meters to go and wasn't sure if I could find any more gas in the tank but managed to pass him with 20 meters to go. That was good for 8th place, last in the money! Sweet!! Thank you Cannondale Supersix for being so nice and light!

So not a bad race for me. The course was awesome. You could go wide open through most of the descents once familiar with them. I would definitely come back for more punishment in the future.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sobe got a new Steed! (Training this week)

Training this week was productive but a little scattered with business travel and vacation time. I was able to do any group rides but I wasn't able to saddle up on a new steed (a.k.a. bike).

Rode to work and back on Monday, fairly uneventful. The usual pot hole dodging and leg shredding Cat 5 climb at the end. Made especially fun with the extra 12-15 lbs in my laptop bag. I have a love/hate relationship with that climb.

I had to do a day trip to Charleston on Tuesday and I brought along my spin bike compatible Nike shoes. After my meetings I had a little time to kill, so I swung over to Golds Gym with my travel pass.  I decided to do a couple rounds of deadlifts, incline presses, burpees and 15ft rope ascents because I haven't been doing crossfit lately and needed to remind my body of that stuff. They actually had climbing ropes hung at this Golds, which was sweet! I then hopped on the spin bike for quick warm up, 5 minute interval, 2 x 1 minute intervals and then 1.5 minute low rpm climbing interval.

Rode to work on Wednesday. Along the way, I had a nice boost from a Sysco semi for at least a mile. Spun out the 53x12! Yeehaw! During the day I got some great news from the Cannondale rep, my new bike had arrived at Bike Doctor Waldorf!! On the ride back I witnessed a drug deal go down. You know the old two handed hand shake. Some parts of my commute go through some shady parts of DC.

Once I got home I grabbed the kids and headed down to Bike Doctor Waldorf to piece my bike together and bring her home. When I pulled my new Cannondale Supersix out of the box I had to go into the bathroom and rub one out! That thing is sick light. I was able to get most of it together at the shop (Thanks Chris R for giving me some space). Luckily the shop has an additional mechanics area in the back because I had my two golden children with me. They did a pretty good job hanging out (relatively speaking) but did start a few fights that needed my mediation. I think I was able to provide the mechanics with some birth control incentive. Not sure if those guys will want any kids anytime soon. They were troopers. What I didn't get done at the shop, I finished at home that night.

Thursday afternoon I headed up to Bear Creek Resort to see my good buddy off to get hitched and I brought the bike so that I could take it out for a spin on Friday. I certainly wanted to make sure everything was race ready for Sunday at the Crystal Cup.

I took the new bike out Friday morning for a couple of loops around a route I scouted out on google maps. This was the first time I have been on carbon fiber and it was smooth. Very stiff and responsive but also dampened the bumps in the road nicely. It was hard to say how much faster I was able to go but the course had a couple of cat 4 and one cat 5 climbs and they felt pretty good.

One more good week of training in the bag. Can't wait for Tour of Washington County stage race!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Racing is the Best Training - Ride Sally Ride report

They say racing is the best training and I decided to make the most of this today. As someone who is 36 and a category 3 rider, it is possible to almost always race two races and on certain days you could even race as many as 4 races. Well today was one of those certain days. The Whole Wheel Velo Club Ride Sally Ride crit was on tap today for mid-Atlantic shaved legged bike pedaling crazies. It was a beautiful day (low 80's) and I was signed up for the later races (35+ open and 1/2/3). I was able to get to the course a little sooner than I expected and jumped into the category 3 race for the start of an insane day of racing/training. I was looking at 70 miles of racing, 112 laps and 336 right hand turns. Dizzy, dehydrated and depleted was on the menu.

I kept the warm up to a minimum and started the 3 race with 60+ other riders. Starting for Bike Doctor was Todd "Doc" Bickling, Robb "Wrob" Hampton, Mike Schneider, Sunny Gill, Cliff Chamberlain, Judd Walencikowski and myself. The plan was to have a few guys on the front and to keep some guys fresh for the finish in the pack and out of the wind. The course is very wide with 3 corners and a little uphill prior to the final corner. When you are in the field it is like riding behind a school bus, so lots of guys have fresh legs, the pace stays high and very little ever gets away. Cliff and Sunny covered most of the significant moves and the rest of us enjoyed the draft.

Around 5 to go Wrob, Doc and myself started moving up to join Sunny and Cliff. We were all sitting around the top 20. Sunny slotted in behind my wheel right about this time and said something. All I heard was "3 to go". I assumed he meant for me to go with 3 to go. I was all for this and had talked to some of the guys about going with 1.5-2 laps to go if it felt right. Because I hadn't heard Sunny clearly I needed to talk to him but just wasn't able to so I decided I would light it up with 1.5 laps to go and see what happens. Either Sunny could sit on and launch or he could let me go and create a good gap. We went with the latter and I gutted it out for a half lap and looked behind and saw that guys were breathing down my neck. I decided to keep the pace high and figured the rest of the team would benefit.

At the second to last corner I was caught and started getting passed, I sucked it up and tried to maintain some speed. I saw Sunny go flying by on my left just before the final corner and he looked like he was going to grab a nice placing. However racing bikes gives you that glimmer of hope and then snatches it from you in the blink of an eye. Just as the front of the pack rounded the last corner, a rider went down and nearly took Sunny with him. Sunny and about 10 other riders nearly came to a complete stop. I was able to slip under the crash and managed to grab 10th place.

I was surprised to not see some of the other fellas up there for the sprint. What I saw during the warm down lap, explained their absence. I saw Todd and Robb walking their bikes from the 2nd corner. Todd had gone down in the 2nd corner and Robb had to lock up the rear brake to keep from t-boning Doc. In the process Robb wore his tubular to the bone and flatted. Luck was not on our side this race.

The next race on the plate was the 35+ open and another 32 laps of fun. Bike Doctor fielded Brian Rist, Pete "Sit In, What's That?" Warner, Evan Ellicot, Cliff and myself. For this race I wanted to play a little more active role but still enjoy the school bus draft. The whistle blew for the start and Pete shot off like a cannonball and worked with a little group for a couple of laps. All of us stayed pretty active towards the front either covering moves (Cliff and Rist were all over the front) or instigating them through out the race. About midway Pete was off with another group of guys (Harley and XO) and I was up covering stuff when I heard the bell ring and the official yelled out pack preme. As we neared the 3rd corner I was behind two Harley guys and I decided to gun it before the turn and snag the preme. Sure enough I was able to grab it (cha-ching) and immediately sat back up to resume my blocking duties.

Pete's group eventually deteriorated and he flew solo for a couple laps until the pack finally consumed him with 8 or so to go. He was able to grab two premes while away. Things started winding up with 2 to go and I found Pete and got into pretty good position. Harley wound things up from about a lap to go and we hung on. Pete and I were able to pass a few guys in the final stretch and were able to get 8th and 7th respectively. Not bad for a couple of non-sprinters.

Race number 2 complete, burned a couple more matches and got another top 10. Not bad.

This last race, Category 1/2/3, for me was going to be pure training. No one from the team entering this race had fresh legs. We had Ellicot, Rist, Gill, Warner and myself ready to tackle another 48 laps. My goal was to try to help the team as much as possible by covering moves and try to hang on for at least half the race. I was definitely happy to see that my speed is coming back and I was able to follow moves and even instigate them. Now I just need to work on sustaining the speeds and recovery when in breakaways.

I saw the 24 lap to go card and I was happy to have met my goal. I continued to mix things up but was certainly wearing down. With 15 to go, I decided my time was up and made one last pull to bring back a breakaway that didn't have us in it. I managed to pull it back and then punched the eject button with 14 to go. I am not sure how the team fared in the finish because I left. I believe some more crashing occurred and some of the guys were caught up in them.

I was amazed at the sheer number of crashes that occurred throughout the day. This was a wide open course offering very little reason for crashing. I think guys just got squeezed from time to time when we went 4-5 guys wide into the corners.

My racing is the best training day was complete. I had two top 10's and 98 laps (60+ miles) under my belt without a crash. I was also able to rock my new "You Got Dropped" t-shirt proudly, hopefully nobody got a picture of me dropping out of the 1/2/3 race. I am pretty sure Bruce Buckley had left the scene.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Guess What? My laptop bag is hail proof! (Training this week)

My training during the week started off with a bang. I hit the Murph WOD (see previous post) on Monday and my upper body was sore the entire week because of it. Love it. Following the Murph workout the family headed over to the single best community pool in the world, Crofton Swim and Tennis Club. They have an awesome opening weekend Memorial Day Kid/Adult fun day. They have lots of activities through out the day for both kids and adults. The kids have a watermelon relay and a juice dive. The adults have a splash contest (3 meter spring board, oh yeah!) and a beer dive (picture 50 grown adults diving into the deep end trying to grab as many beers as they can). Needless to say I did plenty of liquid carbo loading and was ready for the upcoming week of training.

Tuesday I rode to Hains point in the evening and it was surprisingly light on riders. I did get a chance to meet Chuck Hutcheson and a few others. I had heard that he sometimes motorpaces and I wanted to talk to him about tagging along at some point. Hopefully we will link up soon. He was on an easy spin night because he just got back from the Tour of Somerville, where he placed 10th, very impressive. So I parted ways with their group and started my intervals. I did 3 long intervals of about 4-5 minutes each. Then I did a 2 minute followed by a 1 minute interval. After that I called it a night and rode back to my car (about 8 miles away on the bike trails).

On Wednesday, I set my bike up for commuting, slapped the laptop onto the rack and headed into work. The ride was uneventful and I didn't push too much because the soreness from Murph was really starting to set in. I showered, changed and headed over to the Desperation Deli (coined term by some of the folks I work with) near our building for my post ride to work breakfast sammich and chocolate milk. Yummy!!

While the ride into work was uneventful, I can't say the same for the ride home. During the day, I was looking at the temperatures and they were creeping up to the mid 90's with a feel like temp of 104. Stttickyy. Knowing this, I was drinking heavily (not alcohol but water) throughout the day. Well as it got closer to head home time, the skies started looking a little ominous and sure enough as I walked across the street to change into my riding clothes, it started raining lightly. I usually love the rain while riding but something about the clouds told me that there was more than rain in store for me.

I headed out into a light drizzle with my laptop bag setup for inclement weather. As I got closer to DC the rain started to pick up. Nice heavy drops of rain that stung a bit when they hit your face. Well those heavy drops started turning into peanut M&M sized hail. Hmmm, what to do now? I kept trudging on and managed to avoid most of the hail but occasionally one smacked me pretty good. I will tell you, it did keep my mind off the pain in the my legs. The hail lasted for about 10 minutes and then I was in the clear after another 10 minutes of heavy rains. One thing I can say is that not only is my laptop bag rain proof but it is also HAIL PROOF. Nice work Topeak.

Scott "Meesile" Giles
Frank "the Tank" Ramos
Thursday I was working down at Pax River and planned to go for a ride at some point while I was down there. Earlier in the week, I had shot an email out to our team regarding rides in the area for Thursday. Most of them agreed that the ride formerly known as the "aero" ride was the one to do.  It basically goes out and back and covers about 40-45 miles. I met up with the group that was about 8-9 guys. Bike Doctor was well represented in this smallish group because we had Frank "the Tank" (aka "Framos") Ramos and Scott "Meesile" Giles.

We started out at a chatting pace and picked things up where Giles and I were riding tempo at the front until I finally decided to peel back and enjoy a little draft. The paceline got started from there and never really stopped. We had a nice tail/crosswind on the way out and we were flying. Each of us was taking our turn at the front for an extended period of time. We got to the turn around point and stopped for a water refuel and pee break. As we were sitting around you could tell that we were all thinking about the headwind we had in store for us on the way back and were hoping for a MAGICAL BUS to arrive and take us back home. After a few minutes we realized our bus wasn't coming and decided to head on back.

Thankfully the Meesile was with us because he pulled at least half of the way home at INHUMAN SPEEDS. Scott stands at least 6'4" and you would think he would produce a nice draft but that man can get arrow and cut through the wind like a knife. I didn't even try to match his pulls but did my fair share along with the rest of the group (Frank was certainly not slacking on his pulls either). A couple of guys broke off from the ride to head home (including Frank) and we continued our pulling ways. I could tell we were getting close and for fun I decided to throttle things up a little after one of Scott's monster pulls. This gapped Scott and his wife Katie (a bona fide bad ass in her own right) and forced Scott to chase back up to me with his wife in tow. I didn't realize that he had lost contact and just as he was catching on I looked down, saw a wheel and flicked my elbow. The boy didn't hesitate a second and made another monster pull after having pulled for a mile or so and chasing down the gap to me. Studddddly!!

Great week of training and looking forward to working with the team at Ride Sally Ride this weekend put on by Whole Wheel Velo Club!

Memorial Day Murph WOD and some soreness

First of all I just want to thank all of our service men and women who have sacrificed much to ensure the freedom of this great nation. We salute you. Happy Memorial Day!!

Lt Michael Murphy
I got converted over to crossfit a couple of years ago and was recently doing sealfit until I started to put more time on the bike. I am a big believer in crossfit and love every aspect of it. For those that may not know, they have the "Girls" Workout of the Day (WOD) and "Hero" WODs. These are basically the metrics by which you can gauge improvement and you usually repeat them every couple of months. Either you try to beat your last time or try to do more reps in a fixed amount of time. One of the Hero WODs is Murph, after LT Micheal Murphy, who was killed in action during a fire fight in Afghanistan back in 2005.

Here are the details on the Murph WOD:
For time:
1 mile run
100 pull ups
200 push ups
300 squats
1 mile run

You can break up the pull ups, push ups and squats however you want. If you have a 20 lb weighted vest, wear it.

For a couple years now it has become a tradition to do this WOD on Memorial Day and I wasn't going to miss out honoring both Memorial Day and a fallen hero and decided to hit Murph after 2 months of very little upper body workouts. I got to Gold's, met a buddy of mine, slung on my vest, hit the timer and let the sweating begin. One thing I failed to mention is that everytime I have done Murph I modify the push up for a little more pain. I grab a 24" box and the push up handles. My feet go on the box and it puts more weight on the push up and gives a better incline push up motion.

I have made through my modified Murph in the past but 2 months of limited upper body work, took its tool as I completed 300 squats and nearly 100 pull ups. I had just past the 100th incline push up and I was dying, had to hold back a few times or I would have tossed yee old cookies. I was barely getting 3-4 push ups at a time. I decided to chuck the vest and finish off the pull ups and get whatever push ups more I could do while reaching 100 pull ups. I ended up getting 125 push ups. I threw the vest back on and finished the mile. My finishing time was something around 1 hour 15 minutes, not great but I got one heck of a workout. I was drenched.

Well over the last couple of days my soreness has set in and I can tell you that my chest is more sore than Pamela Anderson after a boob job!

I am going to continue to focus on cycling but I will definitely need to start hitting sealfit/crossfit WODs starting in September because a group of us are signed up to do the Tough Mudder in Virginia!