I get to race a nice bike at cool places thanks to these guys:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Having a post ride chat


Chilling out in the back yard after a fun group ride here in Washington, D.C.

I have videos from said ride, I just need to edit and add music.

Speaking of music, credit goes to Outkast for the instrumental version of Slump (edited and looped by me on my ones-and-twos....well, I only needed a one)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bike Racing is Cool: an Essay

Some of you who read this blog are bike racers yourselves, and have your own reasons for liking (or maybe being addicted to) the sport of cycling. Others who have found their way here are friends and family, who I so often hear say that they think my biking hobby is cool, but I'm not so sure I've ever given really tried to pitch the sport to them. HOPEFULLY, some of you who are skimming these sentences found my site by clicking on some links from the Nature Valley Bike Festival/Pro Chase/Grand Prix's sites. Of all you guys, I'm not sure of how many will be already familiar with the site, and how many are just reading up on the event before they go watch a bike race in their hometown for the first time.

 If you have the chance to come and watch the Nature Valley races in June, I suggest you do it. Spectating a high-caliber bike race, no matter if it is pro-level or strictly amateurs, is fun! On a pleasant summer day, picnicking alongside a bike race course is a great way to burn a couple of hours: chowing down feet (or less) from a huge mass of people hurtling down a street at high speeds is as mesmerizing as auto racing, but with more sunscreen and less eardrum-bursting.

 In bike races, you will see a lot of in-shape people. Sure, all of them obviously spend a lot of their free time riding bikes, but every single rider is bound to have a life that is more interesting than you think. Despite the seemingly large chunk of cash that is up for grabs at major bike races, I can promise you that no one in a peleton is pedaling solely because there is cash to be won at the finish line. This post is about my own reasons for riding my bike (and racing it).

 For starters, riding bikes is a great activity to stay fit without hauling yourself into a gym, mounting a treadmill, and attempting to stay motivated while you watch Wolf Blitzer on CNN (or whatever your local sweat-house likes to put on the TV around the cardio equipment). I can think of no more enjoyable and seemingly non-exercise-like activity to keep your body running smoothly than driving down to your local bike trail with a friend, saddling up and pedaling a ways to get to an ice cream shop, 7-Eleven, or BBQ joint for a quick refuel/chow-down stop before turning around to head home? Getting a little deeper into 'why bikes are fun' leads me to describe the multiple levels of awesome that are experienced in a bike race. The obvious route to find enjoyment in bike racing would obviously be 'winning a race', but that isn't what I'm going to tell you. ALL OF THE OTHER THINGS are what makes racing a USA Cycling event fun - winning is a thrill, but is still just the icing on the cake.

 -Racing a bike on closed streets.

Gettin' my lean on along Pennsylvania Ave.  Yes, THAT Pennsylvania Ave.

So awesome. Cut apexes, bomb descents, challenge yourself to increase your entry and exit speeds on corners! Because you are on a bicycle, the feeling of speed and momentum is enhanced, like how a roller coaster drop looks like a fairly steep angle when you are not on the ride, but from the front car, it seems STRAIGHT DOWN. I kid you not, the speeds at which you ride through corners in a bike race prompt very serious thoughts of just how far your 23 millimeter tires can hold grip through a lean. 20 mph on a bike feels like 50 in a car, and 30 mph feels like 80.

 -Race tactics.

Driving a breakaway is a tradeoff between increasing your chances to win and using your energy before the race ends
Once you have the fitness to compete in a race and are sufficiently bored with learning the art of bike handling, you have a whole new world of improvements to make by learning all of the small tactical options you have in a bike race. I'm not going to begin to explore this area, but I have a great analogy that non-bike racers might be able to appreciate. The Daytona Speedway was recently resurfaced to allow NASCAR drivers to drive 3-wide through the massive banked curves, where they had previously been maxed out at racing 2-wide in years past. The difference this made in racing was immense. As I watched the Daytona 500 begin, the auto race looked like it developed EXACTLY like a bike race. Because there was more space to move up through the curve, groups of cars would initiate breakaway groups in the exact same way riders do in a bike race. They hang out a few spaces back from the leaders, sitting safely in the draft, and just when the leaders are about to have the hardest time pushing their way through the wind, the racers sitting in the back use their momentum and the lack of air resistance to burst out of the field and off the front. In order to bring them back, other cars will have to launch off the front, and the more drivers who get away, the further their cars 'chain' back to the main pack. The same gambit is played so often in bike racing and, in essence, is the exact same thing as what you see in NASCAR, just human powered, and a few (okay more than a few) MPH slower.


The bicycle of teammate Peter Warner
Gear heads unite! If you think a bike racer spends a lot of time training and obsessing about what flavor of gatorade to select for their bike rides, wait until you get into the equipment side of cycling! There is so much here for a tinkerer to get lost with building/improving/enhancing their bicycle machine it is crazy. You can change your bike fit, you can get lighter components, you can get aerodynamic wheels, you can get a custom plush riding bike...and don't get me started on cyclocrossers and their FANATICAL obsession with tires and air pressure :) Bicycling could sell itself to people who would LOVE to spend $20k on a weekend having their car supercharged, but maybe can't put up that kind of money. Don't believe me? Got to slowtwitch.com and browse the forums: most of that is gear optimization strategies...thousands upon thousands of pages of discussion! And what is better than this ease of access for tinkerers? Most tinkering can be done with a small little multi-tool. No car lifts required!


These guys welcomed me along their rides on a chilly winter morning in the Mountains!  Smiles everywhere!
If you race a bike most weekends during the summer, chances are you will see the same people week after week. You make friends. You grow rivalries. You get over rivalries. You have your own epic competitions with each other. When the season ends and it is time to put your race number away until the spring, you wish your friends well and can't wait to see who comes into next spring in shape, who gets a cool new bike, and who went and had a crazy awesome vacation!

That's all for now, I've got some loose ends to wrap up at the office before the weekend; Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Monday, May 14, 2012


Saturday marked another D.C. area 'monument' race: Poolesville. This course is a blast as long as lady luck is on your side. With a key feature of a dirt and gravel road, riders who complete this race will either beam in excitement over how much fun they had, or scowl about the nth flat tire they've endured at the race. The thing about Poolesville is that when you are not busy frantic about being pinned behind the centerline-controlled field, you are gliding through the most excellent sweeping turns that rural Maryland has to offer. Sure, there are some potholes in a few places, and the pavement is less-than gentle, but this is the type of course where people will buy a set of tires JUST FOR THIS ONE DAY. How cool is that? Our own little Faux-Roubaix! My day went well. Once again, I found myself at the back during staging (despite my best attempts to use my street cred to waltz in front of the line) and remained at the back for a very, very long time. Many gaps had to be closed, a few crashes or incidents to avoid, and I even had the pleasure of witnessing a rider run off the road at the feedzone and collide with my wife. That was not the most fun thing to see. Melissa, who was fresh off of celebrating a crash-free day in her own Poolesville race, was unable to spectate unscathed. Bike racing will always get you, one way or another. With about 30 miles to go, I FINALLY emerged out of the bowels of the field and, or the first time in the race, could see some scenery rather than the hubs and butts of other riders. My teammate Pete Warner and I went nuts attacking the field, and eventually out teammate Scott was able to spring free with another rider (a good buddy of mine, Jose, from a rival team) and I sat back to catch my breath. Fortunately for my slightly tired legs, the duo rolled out of sight and that was the last we would see. I waited for the field sprint, but right when crunch time was starting, I was pushed out off of the road by some riders who desired my spot too far back in the group. I kept upright, got back on the road, pedaled really hard, and finished in something-place. Smiles were had by all, as we soaked in the 77 degree sunny day of bike racing accomplished.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What day is it

It is Wednesday, and I'm in D.C. I'm not ALL here in D.C., I think I left my head somewhere else. Absurd sleep and travel cycle I'm on right now. Later this week should be a few sales meetings, a server room security tour, and eventually, a bike race. Oh, let's not forget Mother's Day. It feels like finals week all over again.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Turkey Hill Country Classic

I finally made it out to Turkey Hill! Ever since I've heard of this race, each passing edition sees me respectfully abstain from participating. It is usually one part lack of road-race fitness, one part lack of climbing prowess. With the Nature Valley Grand Prix on the horizon, however, there was no question about my willingness to show my face at the event this go around. AND ICE CREAM. I had no personal goals for the race, aside from wrenching my legs for a few hours and seeing what happened. I got into some early junk-moves, did a few short minutes-worth of work towards the middle of the race, and then attempted to survive the attrition (which I did!) The race course is fantastic - nice roads with some fun corners, a rolling enclosure for most of the course (except for two clearly marked short stretches of road) and a rather packed start/finish area! It is wild to feel like there are spectators at a road race, but with Turkey Hill promoting the event complete with large inflatable cow and moon bounce, I'd hope that some people came out to see what the commotion was! When I wasn't feeling like daggers were sticking into my quads, I had a lot of fun in the race. Everything went great, except for the last km. A rider who is well known for his devastating kilometer ability decided to launch himself out of a cannon at the 1 km mark. The rest of the field was just a little bit too fast to be caught off guard by this, and caught his wheel, single file. After about 10 seconds of hammering, the rider in the lead looked back, saw the shattered peleton take the form of a snake behind him. Not enjoying this sight, the lead rider whipped to the side of the road, took a quick pause, then whipped across the road two more times pretty violently. As you might expect, the following riders were drafting each other single-file, and the rapid whipping motion caused a pretty nasty crash about 10 riders back. I was at the tail end of the guys who fell down. I personally did not fall (and I think I managed to support another guy who was in the act of falling into me), but all I could do was shake my head at what had just happened. Sadly, the field wasn't even sprinting for the win, as two riders were up the road. Big props to Rick Norton who flew the coupe and held everyone off. 'Slick Rick' is a rider that I don't think ANYONE minds getting beat by; his rides are always ballsy and dramatic! Oh, and I should mention that I was so tired/fired up about that calamity at the km attack that I FORGOT to get any ice cream.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My New Whip

Thanks to Cannondale and Bike Doctor for hooking the team up with some FINE one-off Caad10 frames for us to roll through the season in style and speed! I've been frame-material-neutral for some time now. Some of my friends might have seen me switch from a Giant TCR Advanced to an aluminum Scott last season. Both were great bikes. The Giant was super light and well balanced, but when I switched to the Scott, it ate corners like it was on rails. This past winter, however, I had a little experiment. I built up my old faithful Giant TCR Carbon and did some rides. Not gonna lie, the weight advantage of the higher-end frame was definitely noticed. Still, I got those Giant frames when I was sizing myself all crazy-like, and I just could never get comfortable on their whippy front-ends. Enter Bike Doctor and Cannondale, getting me aboard the new Caad10. Things I like: -Stout front end: push it into a corner and it will not shake or waiver -"Standard Geometry": it looks like a classic bicycle, not sci-fi bike -It is made out of metal -People can buy this without getting in trouble with spouses/debt collectors This is my first 'Dale, and assuming I'm a good fit with the geometry, I'd be really curious about the Evo if I ever win the lottery :) The build as shown is incomplete. I'm on a size 58, but I have a really short reach, and the only stems I had available were 120's. I'll probably find a cooler stem/handlebar combo to get this baby JUUUUST right.

Storylines for the Nature Valley Pro Chase

I don't think you can ask for a more Cinderella story than the season the Pro Chase riders are having. For me, I had the race of my life in qualifying on a course that I've always had problems on. I followed that up with a win at the All American Road Race, and - all things considered - a very solid performance at a stage race last weekend. Look at Conner McCutcheon who is killing it out west, finding the podium and wins at some major races! Last night's results are the icing on the cake. Lindsay Bayer is exemplifying what it takes to make the jump to pro racing at Speedweek...check out her race reports on her blog (and incoming I'd hope is a post about her results from last night. No spoilers here!)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Back to Business

I'm mostly healed up, which is great news! I can get back to training hard for the Nature Valley Grand Prix! Not riding for a week left me in a little bit of a rut, but I stayed patient and thought of the layoff as not a setback, but rather a forced break to get me ready for some real crank-twisting over the next few weeks. Full disclosure: I searched out GPS files of the race courses to see exactly what I'm up against. That little bit of recon along with some wise pointers from past Nature Valley Pro Ride qualifier Tim Rugg has me feeling confident that I'm on the right track. This evening, I'm kicking off this next training block with a local 'Wednesday Night Worlds' event that we are lucky to have near D.C. The Route 1 Velo Club puts on a sanctioned training race at Greenbelt park, which is a cheap, fast, and fun way to get in a hard ride on a Wednesday night. Game on!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Rock Tour Lititz

This past weekend I traveled up to the Lancaster, PA area for a two-day stage race called Rock Tour Lititz. The stage race comprises of 3 races held over 2 days: a road race on Saturday followed by a Sunday morning team time trial and a Sunday afternoon criterium. The road race was not the most fun I've had on a bicycle recently. I'm still favoring my right hand, which took the brunt of my little celebratory tumble at the All American race, and I had JUST put together a new bike the night before and hadn't gotten a chance to dial in the fit coordinates. Fortunately, I had a teammate/friend Jim Weinstein with us, who got me PROPERLY bandaged for my first ride since the crash. I can't recall much from the road race, because I spent a good chunk of it attempting to claw my way up from the back, which is difficult to do on a course with a yellow-line rule. Perhaps half-way through the race, a fairly large group of riders rolled away, and that was that. My teammates and I tried to stir up a chase group, but no one would bite. We did as best as we could in the field finish, and then hurried back to the hotel to get all relaxified for the next day.
The next morning, we hit the TTT, which is held on a course that has a flat, technical section, followed by a ramp up to a little berg. We went fast, but came up a little short on the results. Thinking the race over, we could have performed slightly better, but we had a handicap of only having 5 riders instead of a full crew of 6.
At the crit, we were greeted with a really well done-up downtown Lititz, with buzzing spectators, Joe Jefferson MCing the race, and even a National Anthem singer! I thought I had done enough sneaking to get myself a good spot at race staging, but as is often the case, small dudes kept sneaking underneath armpits and after a few minutes I had gone from 3rd row to the very back. This resulted in a rather chaotic and painful first 20 minutes of the race for me, as I pedaled like a maniac to overtake riders and escape the chopping block at the back of the pack. Once up front, I did help to make the race a little bit. My teammate Scott Giles got himself into the break of the day, and I [gladly] helped control the pace of the field. With about 6 laps to go, that break lapped us, and I dropped back into the field to go help Scott get back to the front of the pack. As I'm slipping back, I see Ryan Dewalt of XO Communications (a rider who was now a lap up) SPRINTING along the left side of the field, staring laserbeams through the pack. I look to my right and see SCOTT, ROCKETING along the right side, also gazing on his breakaway partner, matching pedal strokes. The two met at the front and battled for the next few laps until Dewalt won the field sprint outright. I never made it back up to help Scott, but it was exciting to watch a teammate make a display of strength like Scott did. Amazing! Just for kicks, here's a picture of me to prove that I was there:
Next up, Turkey Hill Country Classic! This will be my first time doing that event, I've heard loads of good reviews over the years! Can't wait! Bike Racing! Ice Cream! [I will have to update this whenever I can find some good pictures of Scott on the podium. He was a hero out there!)