Monday, April 30, 2012

How to save MOOLAH, so you can buy more bike stuff

I come from a long line of penny pinching parents. I don't implement all that has been passed down to me. Namely drying used paper towels on the clothesline (true story, Grandfather did this) but I try to pinch where I can. Because over time it adds up and then I can buy the fun stuff like Gucci Zipp Carbon wheels. And fuel my other vice, Belgian trippels (Bier that is). My grandfather would be rolling over in his grave if he knew that I have a set of wheels for my bike that retail for probably more then he collectively spent on vehicles in his lifetime.

Below is a list of various things one can do to save a little money here and there. Some of this stuff may be hazardous to your health, I will let you be the judge of that. Additionally you will have to ride a fine line to degree in which you implement any one or more of these without risking war of the roses with your significant other. 
  • Shelter
    • Hang paper towels (if you want to go extreme)
    • Dry your clothes on a clothesline.
    • Lower thermostat in winter and raise it during the summer. If you have a programmable thermostat, use it.
    • Replace incandescent with CFL or LED bulbs
    • Raise your home insurance deductible
    • Grab floor space in someone's hotel and split with the extra soap and shampoo. I traveled a ton for work a couple of years ago and every time I would take home the soap, shampoo, condition and anything else that wasn't glued down. I can say I haven't paid for a bar of soap or shampoo for about 5 years.
  • Gettin' Around
    • Own a fuel efficient car - better yet, if you can handle an electric car, go for it. This is certainly in my future, just want the range per charge to get a little better. <soapbox> I would love to never purchase another gallon of gas. Mainly because it would be good for America to significantly reduce its dependence on foreign oil. </soapbox>
    • WARNING Dangerous Tip - Draft semis. Come on we do it to conserve energy on the bike. Why not increase your MPG's. But please use caution, when they start veering off into the break down lane and turning on their flashers, it is time to back off and find another truck. Trust me on this one. I will tell you that story over a beer sometime. 
    • Carpool to races.
    • Ride instead of drive - great for training but make sure you shower, people at work don't want to smell you rotting in chamois creme.
    • Raise your auto insurance deductible.
  • Table Scraps
    • Make your own meals. Especially dinner but even make sandwiches instead of eating at McD's during race weekends. I do break this rule from time to time because it is good to support the communities that host events
    • Take your lunch to work - my great wife always makes enough food at dinner time for a family twice our size. I always bring the leftovers in to work instead of dropping 7 bucks at the nearest Taco Smell.
    • Let someone else keep starbucks in business and stop buying the venti double bubble caramel machimottos
  • Shopping
    • Sell your old stuff on eBay or craigslist
    • Buy stuff on ebay/craigslist but watch out sometimes you can find items cheaper at places like Amazon
    • Get on a great team (Bike Doctor rocks) that hooks you up with low prices on bike stuff! Unfortunately for me this doesn't lower my overall bike cost because I end up buying more cool things.
    • Buy generic and buy in bulk - you will eventually eat all 5 gallons of peanut butter.
    • Use to find deals, coupons and get cash back on online purchases. I have probably received a couple hundred bucks in cash back from this site over the years. This is in addition to a cash back credit card that you can use to make the purchase.
  • Entertainment
    • Cancel cable - Who needs it anymore (aside from major league sports) with the internets. You can go to a local sports bar if you really got to watch the BoSox's tromp over the Yanks!
    • Completely turn off DVD players, TV's, game consoles. Can save 100's a year if you own a bunch of stuff that lies around waiting for you to turn it on. Either connect these devices to a power strip with an on/off switch or connect them to a wall outlet that has a wall switch.
  • Misc
    • Cancel telephone land line
If you got any more good ones, I would love to hear them. Add a comment.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Group ride junky!

The subject says it all. I live for the group ride. I am a friggin' junky for a leg breaking group ride. Like Charlie Sheen hitting another speed ball, I gotta have my group ride. And not in a way that I think of it as a race and try to win sprints and KOM's but that I look to punish my legs/lungs to the extent that I can barely walk afterwards. And the stronger the riders that regularly show up, the BETTER. I secretly start grinning when I see multiple fast dudes/chicks post up because I know we are all going to be in for a great work out.

Almost every group ride starts out with a pretty decent size pack that rolls together nicely for a few miles but then the speed in-evidently picks up and slowly guys start missing pulls. Then it is down to just a few to keep trading pulls until everyone explodes. When I have my legs back after a few months of getting dropped on the group rides, I love nothing more then for someone to keep pulling through. I will always dig a little deeper and try to be the last one to pull through.

The DC, Maryland, Northern Virginia (NOVA) area has plenty to offer in the group ride arena, here is a sample of where I like to get my group ride fix on:
Tuesday noon hill ride from Arlington Italian Store
Contes Tuesday evening ride (especially when the kegs are tapped and food is free on the first Tuesday)
Thursday noon Hour of Power from DC Cyclelife
Wakefield Tuesday/Thursday evening ride
The Point (a.k.a. Hains Point) anytime
Davidsonville 424 Park and Ride (Tuesday/Thursday)
Greenbelt race on Wednesday

New edition may be Westside Worlds hosted by Adventures for Cure.

I hear the Tuesday Night Worlds in Reston is pretty stellar but a long haul. The goon ride is a bit out of the way for me as well but I hear it is one of the fastest out there.

I can't wait to get my next fix. Hope to see you guys out there. Probably going to show up at 424 ride tomorrow.

Any other fast group rides in the Northern Virginia, DC, Maryland area? Leave a comment. I will tally them up and put them on my group ride page.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Carl Dolan Pics

I handed off the camera to one of the Bike Doctor "MABRA housewives" and she was able to capture some good shots of the 1, 2, 3 action. It is a little Bike Doctor focused. Congrats to team DC Velo for walking away with the 1-2 podium. Check the pics out in the link below.

Dolan Pics

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Comeback year in review (final installment)

The sandbagging comments were approaching a deafening level as evidenced by YGD calling me out and I knew it was time to move up but I had to finish out my epic battle with Dan Netzer (Celerity Cycling) and the Cat 3 Cup series. I will note there is a rule that allows a rider to stay at a particular category if they are in contention for a series and the promoter of the series approves it.

Tour de Millersburg, Cat 3: TT - 6th, Crit - 1st, RR - 10th
Awesome race, amazingly supportive town. TT didn't go as well as planned, I had a hard time keeping my speed over the hills. Crit was a different story. The plan was to sit in for the first half and then Andrew Shelby (WWVC but not for long, BD colors were in his future) and I would hook up and try to play dynamic duo off the front. Well that plan got updated when I saw Justin Mauch (HPC/List) take off from the gun in his typical fast self style. I decided to go with him and see how things unfolded. Another strong PA rider (Calvin Hoops) bridged up to us a couple laps later and we started motoring. With 10 laps to go it was pretty apparent we were going to lap the field and my two teammates had been caught up in some crashes and I didn't want to lap the field. So I just sat on for the next few laps. We still ended up catching the group with 5 to go. We quickly made it to the front and I got locked into field sprint mode and knew the only way to ensure victory was to win the field sprint.

Tour de Millersburg crit win! (Photo Credit: Joe Mallis)
With 2 corners to go I positioned myself nicely in about 5th place and noted Justin was glued to my wheel. Out of the last corner I waited about 50 meters to start the sprint up because I knew it was a long way to the line. Even though I waited I left myself a lot of room but luckily Justin was restricted to Junior gears and I managed to hold him off and win the race.

The road race was a fun roller and we (Hampton and Ramos) just stayed alert. However with a lap to go, 4th and 5th place in the time trial snuck away. Before I could get the other teams alerted to what was up the road, they had built up a pretty good gap. After much begging and pleading the other GC teams started helping us but it was too little too late. Hampton and I had a plan for the finishing downhill section and he delivered me to the bottom corner to perfection but I hadn't realized that it was 1km from there to the finish and was stuck out front. One guy jumped around and I went to latch on but my chain flew off. I got it back on and stood on it again. After 10 more strokes it fell off again. This happened a couple more times until the finish line. Luckily I had enough speed and distance to roll in for 10th place. I was able to retain a podium position despite my mechanical and finished 3rd!

Appalachia Visited, Cat 3: 2nd
Fun, mountainous race for one last defense of the GamJams lead. I had to finish the battle of the GamJams title with Netzer and the staging ground was a JR Petsko special in the WV mountains. It was one big loop with 2 significant climbs (3-4 km each). Over the first climb the group was shattered with me somewhere in the middle group and Dan unhitching from us about midway up the climb. As we crested the top, Dan was no where in sight and I could see the lead group, sweet. We caught back up to the lead group a couple miles later. We rolled on the flats for a good 10 miles until I saw what looked to be Dan chasing back on. Sure enough a mile later he latched unto our group a bit on the sweaty side. The man had turned himself inside out to catch back on. Turns out my easy coasting in wasn't to be and the last climb would be a nice show down.

Appalachia visited profile with commentary
We were the lead group of 3's starting the climb and Ian Spivack (DCMTB) decided he wanted to ensure everyone went crosseyed up the final climb and turned on the wattage. I was glued to his wheel and noticed Dan glued to mine. I settled into the hurt locker and tried to will Ian to slow down with my laser beam focus on his seatstays. 2/3rd's of the way up Ian's pace was taking its tool on me and I wasn't sure if I would be able to hold on. I still saw Dan glued to my wheel but not long after I saw a beautiful sight. Dan's front wheel shadow started to drift back from mine. He was cracking. This gave me new found energy and I found another gear. We crested the top and I told Ian the race was his if he just worked with me during the final 4 mile, mostly downhill run into the finish. The plan worked to perfection, Ian took home a much deserved victory. I finished 2nd to secure the GamJams series victory! Dan rolled in about a minute later for a hard fought 3rd on the day and 2nd overall in GamJams. I have to say that it was great racing in the GamJams series and duking it out with Dan all season. He is a great competitor and great friend. I look forward to racing with him in the big boy races next year.

Dawg Days, Cat 1,2,3: 8th
The day after Appalachia I put in my category 2 upgrade request and got it in time for the Dawg Days race in Bowie. This was a nice fast industrial park crit with mostly wide open turns. It was pretty apparent nothing was getting away but Warner, Giles and myself mixed it up really well and we were almost always in the dangerous breakaway situations. With 2 laps to go, Warner and I hooked up and he sheltered me nicely from the wind and moved us up into good position. Immediately I found Brownie's (Tim Brown from Harley) wheel and was dead set on not leaving it. Well that was the right plan but during execution I got distracted by Keck Baker attacking just before the final corner and I took off after him. Well he sat up or something and I found myself in no man's land with 300 meters or more of somewhat downhill sprint and so I decided to put the head down and go for it. I could see riders on my wheel and never gave up. Brownie ended up winning. I managed to hang onto the final money spot, 8th. Not bad for the first time being back with the big boys. Certainly looking forward to next year. We are going to have a very solid cat 1, 2, 3 team.

Tanner Browne and I at the
MABRA Awards banquet
Additionally I was able to secure the MABRA BAR All-Around rider award for Senior 3 due to my late season success. Jason Hall certainly put up a nice year long fight and made a late season charge but ran out of races. It was great getting to race with Jason and gain another good friend in the MABRA peleton.

Needless to say I had an awesome year that was totally unexpected! I have to certainly thank my selfless teammates for many of my successes. We are a great team on and off the bike and I look forward to many more years keying off each other in races and enjoying post race brews. Not sure which one of those I enjoy more. Additionally, without sponsorship I wouldn't have been able to race nearly as much. Thank you Bike Doctor, DigiSource, Elite Endurance, Cyclops and Cannondale. Lastily and certainly most importantly, I have to thank my beautiful wife and boys for supporting me during this season! They were an awesome support team and every time they showed up to races I was able to find another gear that I didn't know I had.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Comeback Year in Review (Next to last installment)

I now had 3 solid months of training and racing underneath me and things were really starting to come together.

Giro Di Coppi Finish! (Photo Credit: Jay Westcott)
Giro Di Coppi, Cat 3: 1st
The perfect leadout!! Bickling and Rist joined me for some fun around the hilly Barnesville, MD area. We mostly sat in but Rist managed to turn the screws on the field a couple of times. I rolled off the front once but was just playing around and didn't want to burn any matches. On the last lap Paul Rades (GamJams) was off the front and I started to grow a little concerned, cause that guy can flat motor. With a half lap to go his time was starting to come down. I planned on putting a big dig on the final climb to shake things up and to bring down Paul's gap some more. Well I went hard and got a little gap but I had a few guys covering me pretty tightly. As we were rolling to the finish, Rist found me and just gave the look (indicating take my wheel and I will see you to the finish line). I slotted in behind him and we moved up some in the field and then just as we were getting to the base of the climb to the finish, Rist found a nice hole open up on the right side and gunned it with 400 meters to go. I stayed tucked behind him, like a pig in blanket until 150 meters and launched. I never looked back, gritted my teeth, made some unusual noises as a result of my overgeared sprint. With 25 meters to go, I finally looked around and saw no one and was able to celebrate in grand style!! Rist's monster lead out provided such a separation from the field that he even held onto 3rd place!

Finish of Cat 3 Arsenal Crit
(Photo Credit: Bob Wellmon)
Arsenal Crit, Cat 3: 1st
Another solo adventure against 30 guys I had never race against. It was fun little 8 corner flat crit in the semi-abandoned Philly Navy Yard. I got into a group of 6 fairly early on and we just started rolling. There were 3 guys from the same team (Shirks Racing) and this worried me but they were all pulling through nicely. It was clear with half the race to go that we weren't going to get caught. I didn't do anymore work than anybody else and started planning for the eventual attack onslaught from the stacked team. Well it happened with 10 to go, a Shirks guy took off and the other two teammates look at us and shrugged. I eventually bridged up solo with a sneaky dig and quickly started working with the guy off the front. We stayed away and during the final couple of corners I couldn't get the Shirks guy to come around. Well it was a tailwind sprint and from the final corner it was about 250-300 meters so I figured I could gas it right out of the corner and hopefully get a little separation. Plan worked to perfection and I had a couple bike length lead at the finish. And my wife and kids got to see the victory salute!

Arsenal Crit, Cat 1/2/3: 7th
Made the second group that got off the front and barely rolled in alive out of the 3 man group I was in. Managed 7th, not to bad.

Lost River Classic, Cat 3/4: 5th
Can you say mountains, good night! Lesson learned, shouldn't have hesitated. Felt okay on the climbs and they were definitely climbs. One was 1.5km and the other was 1km and the rest was rolling. Pete Warner had told me to watch Matias from Snapple prior to the race. Well he got away solo with 2 laps to go and I grew a little concerned. Then coming into the final lap, Ben Frederick and Matt Phillips (didn't know him at the time but by looking at him, should have known he was climber) took off and the alarm bells started to go off in my head. I didn't react but should have. We staged a late rally to claw back the 3 but it was too little too late. I gunned it at 1km to go on the finish hill and Ian Spivack came with. We rotated a couple times and then he had more than me at the end. On the GamJams note, luckily Dan Netzer blew a literal head gasket and finished way down and I was able to climb back into the GamJams lead.

Liberty Crit, Cat 3/4: 3rd
Huge field of Philly riders. I just sat in. 3 guys got away with 5 laps to go and things were looking promising for them. The pack started eating back some of their time and they were only a few seconds ahead with 300 meters to go. I was positioned about perfectly and shot out the left hand side and started a drag race with another sprinter. Well he got the best of me but we were able to catch 2 of the 3 guys that were off the front. I made a huge bike throw at the end that made the difference.

Shenandoah TT, Cat 3: 2nd
This just hurt. Went out too hard, settled down and finished strong. Only missed winning by 20 seconds. Dan Netzer won this and as a result the GamJams leaders jersey went back on his back.

Showdown at Shenandoah Speedway
This was just plain fun. I love racing track style events. Managed to win the combined miss and out!

Page Valley RR, Cat 3: 4th
Damn Netzer (finished 3rd) came around me in the final 100 meters to pad his lead in GamJams! One guy had soloed in and Ben Frederick left no doubt that he can climb and finished 2nd. I will say Paul Rades made this race hurt bad with some hard digs up the climbs. He would just set a fierce tempo that would make most cry for mercy.

Ben Frederick towing me up the finish climb at Luray Crit
(Photo Credit: Team Traveller)
Luray Crit, Cat 3: 2nd
I needed to beat Netzer here to regain GamJams. This was a beast of a crit course with a little ring wall up to the finish line every lap and we had to do a bunch of laps. First half of the race Rist and I just covered little things. I was feeling pretty comfortable going up the hill and then gaping folks on the windy backside descent section. I got a little impatient half way through the race and gunned it up the hill and got some breathing room. I was off for a couple laps and starting to feel the hill a bit. I looked behind me and saw a lone rider that looked to be Ben Frederick (hell of a climber). We hooked up and immediately started working together. He was a beast and pulled almost everytime up the hill. I started to fade with 5 to go and told Ben the race was his and that I would pull through when I could. He took off with a lap to go and easily won the race. I rolled in with 2nd place and Netzer finished 3rd. That was just enough to put me back in the GamJams lead by a mere 1 point.

... to be contined.