Monthly Archives: May 2007

The kisses of the misses

“The kisses of the misses and the flowers for my wife, that’s better than just another third place in Milan.”

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– Gilberto Simoni on winning the Stage 17 of the Giro D’Italia on the fearsome Monte Zoncolan, reputedly the toughest climb in Italy, maybe even Europe

Helmets are a good thing

U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy hems and haws when cornered by the Washington Post’s Sleuth and asked about riding a bike without a helmet. (Initially found Kennedy’s equivocating on Gwadzilla.)

Riding without a helmet is asking for a brain injury. You never know what might happen. I’m not enjoying a liquid lunch through a tube in some hospital bed thanks to a helmet after I endo’d while sprinting two-and-a-half years ago. PamZ likely survived her horrible crash two weeks ago thanks to her helmet. Then there’s this guy…

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Ryan Lipscomb (picture stolen from TreeHugger) who lived to tell the tale after a truck ran over his head, safely ensconced in a bike helmet.

“I didn’t see it coming, but I sure felt it roll over my head,” said the grad student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “It feels really strange to have a truck run over your head.”

The truck turned in front of him as he rode down a bike path, prompting Lipscomb to slam on his brakes and flip over the handlebars into the path of the truck, which kept on going after rolling over him.

I know people have the freedom to make their own dumb decisions, but I always wonder, especially when I see a parent riding helmetless with their helmeted kids. They’re soooo worried about their kids’ safety, but could care less about whether they themselves will be around to see the kids grow up.

When I was young, invincible and a fool, I didn’t wear a helmet on some days as I worked as a bike courier in DC. The old Bell was big, awkward and hot. Many days I did. But now, I guess I’m a helmet fascist.

Birthday Beers #1 and #2

This was the year of beer for my birthday. My friends know me well. Enjoyed two of the 22 ouncers I got this past weekend. They couldn’t have been more different.

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The first was a Dead Guy Ale from Rogue Brewery in Oregon. I’d seen this before, but never bought it. I’ve been missing out big time. This was really good. It’s a malty German-style Maibock. Very hearty. According to Rogue’s Web site, it was originally brewed to celebrate the Mayan Day of the Dead. How cool is that? Thanks Marco.

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The second was a refreshing Harbin Lager. This big surprise comes from a China’s oldest brewery, which is now owned by Anheuser-Busch. I honestly wasn’t expecting much, but it was a fine lager. Very clean, not at all tinny like so many cheap lagers. Great for the end of a hot day. And much better than a Budweiser. Thanks Bob.

No Quarter Park

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Rolled up to New Quarter Park in Williamsburg on Sunday morning with K-Dawg, Marco and Gener. It was old home week in the parking lot. Saw James from the P’Towne days. And Dave and Pam were there. Pam wasn’t riding – still not up to it after her bad crash a few weeks ago at the Oyster Point race. She seemed OK. Hope she bounces back quickly. Dave is taking good care of her.
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The pictures above are after our first “parade” lap around the 6-mile loop. We followed Dave and rolled along pretty fast. For me it was getting acquainted with a new trail. It was fun, fast and rolly; twisting, but not too twisty, if you know what I mean. There were a couple of blind corners that were easy to overshoot as you rolled out of a fast section.

The second lap, Kevin shot off, calling to me at the back of the group to chase. Bye Kev. Gene took up the chase, but dorked something and went down. Then I tried. I saw Kevin briefly, but that was it. Gene and Marc caught back up and we rolled it along before Gene accelerated away toward the end.

Since it was so darn hot – mid-90s for the first time, we took a water break before heading back in for a third lap. I went to the front and just hit it, trying to see how long I could last. We were flying. Gene on my wheel and Kevin behind him. There were a few places where I got that beautiful feeling of flow on the trail, but about halfway through I started to tire and right around 4 miles I almost went down on a digger in some sand. I kept it upright, but Kevin, bypassing a log crossing, passed Gene and I and naturally Gene couldn’t resist. And they were off. I eased up a bit and finally drank and rolled on back.

Every day is a good day on the bike.

Life, beer, biking and everything

We all have those times when the pace of life picks up and it seems to shriek at you so fast it’s hard to get a grip, let alone take a moment to blog about it. The past two weeks have been that way for me. My boss left for a conference in California, leaving me in charge of the Biz team for a week when we had a major story break about alternative fuel plants. That led to more than a one 12-hour day.

Fortunately, last weekend broke it up. I hade a great ride Saturday morning. That afternoon I took Ellie to select soccer tryouts and she did well. Then that evening, Michele threw a birthday party for me. She whipped up some killer barbeque. For the first time my coworkers and biking buddies shared he same space. A good time was had by all, but especially K-Dawg, Arturo and BillG, who literally stumbled in from the beer festival. Thanks to all who brought a little something. The beer may slow me down, but it makes life more fun.

The next day, I swapped out the tires on my road bike and headed south to Chesapeake to try to meet some teammates on the Teeuwen course. I was dogging it. Felt terrible. Rode around the course slower than I have ridden a bike in while. Blamed the party and the wind. K-Dawg, Crazy and Brenna passed right at the end of the course, but I was shot and doodled on home. Running out of fluids, I stopped at a 7-Eleven to buy some Gatorade. As I left, I realized my rear wheel was sticking. The brake was rubbing badly. Discovered 42 miles into a 51-mile ride. Doh!

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My Mom had us over for dinner with Nana, Dick and the in-laws that night. She made an awesome seafood lasagna that I couldn’t really enjoy because my allergies flared badly that afternoon. I was miserable, but enjoyed hanging with the family and eating well as usual at my Mom’s!

Missed the Monday night ride because of work, but caught up with them and joined for a beer at Cogan’s in honor of TimS’ birthday. Tuesday was another rough day at work. And Wednesday was my actual 40th. Turned out to be another longish day at work, but I got out at a reasonable time because the boss came back. Michele made a rocking tuna dish with a Thai peanut pasta. Yum! And she also made my favorite dessert, her Kentucky bourbon pie! The girls all sang as I blew out a single candle in the pie.
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Thursday and Friday were more sane, but crazy in their own way. Saturday I rode, but the allergies were driving me nuts. It’s hard to cough at 29mph. I got the miles in, but it hurt. Then it was off to the opening day pool party. Oh, and not to forget, we’ve also been hanging with my sister-in-law and nieces who are in from Munich, Germany. Nice to see them. Your girls are darling, Stephen.

He who hesitates

The long start/finish straight into a stiff headwind at yesterday’s Oyster Point Crit convinced me early on that no break likely would stick for long on the Cat 5 field. Even though the wind wasn’t as bad as last weekend, the stretch into it was longer. I certainly wasn’t going to try because my legs weren’t feeling it after the stressful drive over and shortened warmup, both thanks to a wreck in the Monitor-Merrimac tube. But I did want to do my best because my Mom (indeed my whole family) was there and it was Mother’s Day.

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The race started simple and steady. Photo above of JB, me and Fireman John at the start by Ellie. A couple of guys tried to go and the pace picked up briefly, but they were always brought back on that headwind stretch. As the race progressed we started picking up the pace and passing lapped riders, which was a little hairy on some of those curves. City Center’s “cobbles” have nothing on Norfolk’s, by the way. Fireman John and I stayed steady near the front as I tried to stay up between 3rd and 5th wheel, which worked until the penultimate lap.

An early lap

All the videos were shot by my wife Michele, who graciously gave up part of her Mother’s Day to support my racing. And Ellie, of course.

Just before we entered the last lap, an attack with two strong riders went on the right while I was boxed in on the left. The two quickly got 25 meters or so into the headwind. I hesitated as the speed picked up and slipped back a few places.

Entering the bell lap

I picked my way up to second wheel by the turn, but still I waited for the guy in front to hit the gas when we caught the tailwind. Instead the gap grew as he rode tempo. Since he wasn’t working to close the gap, I attacked around the curve. I hammered up to within about 5 meters by the final turn, but was starting to tire. As I came around into the headwind, one rider came by on my right. I stood and started sprinting, figuring I’d be swamped by the field. David from JRVS passed me on the left, but I held on for 5th. Lesson learned: don’t hesitate, follow a good move.

The finish

I’m not sure how most of the rest of the team did, but BillG and Tim one-two’d the 4 field until Bill got away. He was joined by a few others and finished a great 3rd!

The day was more marked by early wrecks when the course was rain-slicked. Danbo collected some road rash and Pam “The Mother of Local Cycling” as dubbed by Liz went down badly. Get well soon, Pam.

Ellie represents!

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Eleanor raced her first road race earlier today at the City Center at Oyster Point Crit. It was a warm-up lap followed by a rolling start race lap. She hit it and rolled away from the group for her first road win. One more than her Daddy. She wore a borrowed Tripower jersey (thanks Laura!), representing the new team. She also raced with BJ’s granddaughter and made a new friend.

Here’s the finish:

She got a medal and had a great time. We might see more of her this year.
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My race report will have to wait until tomorrow, but check back – Michele shot some good video.