Monthly Archives: July 2007

A broken streak (bike commuting)

For the first day since mid-April, or 71 work days, I didn’t ride my bike to work. A number of things conspired against me. The nasty threatening storm this morning discouraged riding in. Then at lunch, I needed to drop my cross bike off at East Coast to get the disc brakes installed. (I’m preparing the bike for the epic rides of vacation and, of course, Ironcross V in mid-October.) Disc brakes make a huge difference on those screaming downhills, more than making up for the slight weight penalty. Wish they were legal for other cross racing.

Caution: whining ahead. The other issue is my bum back. I haven’t ridden since last Tuesday, other than the short hops to work last week. Every morning I wake up with a lot of pain in my lumbar region. Don’t know what I did. It actuall started last Sunday after the state road race, but seemed to ebb. Then I did another hard ride Tuesday night and it flared like again. Maybe this break is good. I’ll be able to rebuild in time for cross season. Maybe my back pain is my body’s way of saying it’s time to take a little break. But I’ve been in a cruddy mood.

Biking is my mood elevator. Bike commuting is a joy compared to climbing in the car and driving the short distance home. I can vary my routes, engage with the world, get a little exercise. It’s such a mental difference than driving back and forth. I’ll have to start a new streak tomorrow, whatever my back says.

All-star and MVP

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It’s funny how you don’t get tired of your own child’s success. I hope I’m not driving everyone crazy bragging on my girl. Ellie did it again, qualifying for the swim league’s All-Star meet next Saturday in both 25-meter freestyle and 25-meter butterfly. That means that her times in both events were among the top-12 for all 10-and-under girls across the 24-team league. And she’s only 9. I’m very proud of her, if you can’t tell.She also was recognized as the most valuable 10-and-under girl swimmer on her team at the team banquest, which means she scored more points than the rest. Pretty cool, eh?

My second road race

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My first road race came four years ago in central New Hampshire. It started with a steep climb in the first mile and I, along with the half of the Cat 5, 35+ field, was shelled. I eked out 26th out of 50 starters, but never saw the front of the race again.

The Virginia State Age-Graded Road Race last Saturday was my second real road race. This one was set on a 15-mile course of rolling hills in Midlothian, west of Richmond, in ideal weather: mid-70s at the start and dry. The 40+ field was stacked. One of my teammates called it the strongest 40+ fields he’d ever seen. I lined up with J-Law, Greco and John M, worrying that this race would be over for me as quick as my first one. The pace didn’t start easy, but I had little trouble hanging in the pack as it pounded along, accordioning in on the hills and at the turns and out on the downhills and flats. After a lap, I’d gained some confidence and moved up figuring I’d try to block if a teammate got away, but the field wasn’t letting anything get away. At best only one or two would escape and dangle maybe 250 meters up the road, frying.

By the third lap, I thought I might try my hand and moved further to the front, jumping whenever a particularly strong rider from Charlottesville did. I was basically covering his moves, but so was the rest of the field. No one was letting him get away. I drifted back early in the 4th lap, hoping to recover, then picked my way toward the front along with the other 60 riders as the finish neared.

I sat maybe 20th as the pack turned onto Genito Road, maybe 2.5 miles from the finish. The pace was pegged around 30mph and I just kept trying to hold my position and move up. Maybe a mile from the finish two guys suddenly tangled just to my right and started to crash. I braked and scooted all the way to the left to get around the carnage. Meanwhile, the top 15 guys roared off the front. I closed the gap with great effort, tacking back on the end maybe 500 meters out – about where that church is in the picture above. But I latched on just as the leaders started to sprint and I had nothing left. I guess I finished about 17th. You can sort of make out my yellow helmet about 100 meters back in the photo, ripped off from the Dawg. Greco nailed 6th place!

Aside from the nasty crash and occasional dodginess in the pack, the race was a success for me. Yes, a better placing would have been nice, but I’m new to this level of racing and it was a stacked field. And finishing with the group had been my starting goal. One amazing bit of trivia: We raced 60 miles at an average speed of just over 26mph.

Afterwards, D-bo took my bike and left me behind (at my request):

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My Mom and Millie came and picked me up moments later and we drove to Fairfax for my nephew/godson Sebastian’s 2nd birthday. Good weekend.

Tour de Crash’peake

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Once again, Ellie represented for Tripower, riding the flames in the juniors race and toughing out the wind for second place for 10-14 girls. Not bad for a 9-year-old!My Cat 4 race started very fast. The first few laps rocketed along at nearly 30 miles per hour and I was just hanging on and wondering if I would pop off. Eventually Bill G got away with SR’s Bender and an AAB rider and I found my legs and moved to the front to help out with the blocking. The AAB rider dropped back, so Stephen the Manimal started attacking to try to bridge. I marked three or four of his attacks. Finally he attacked real hard from the right side and I tried to cover from the left, but I was too far off his wheel and he was far too strong. Gassed I dropped to the back for the a few laps.

With two to go Bill and Bender got pulled back and as we entered the bell lap, I tried to move up on the left side when suddenly chaos broke out in front of me as riders went tumbling. I slammed on my brakes and eked just to the right of the pile-up. However, 20 riders flew around the corner 150 meters away. With no money or points left on the line, I soft-pedaled the remainder of the lap until I saw a crash in the final corner. As I rolled aroudn the corner I saw Tim S aka Father Time sitting dazed in the grass and a few other riders on the side. I finished just behind Bill who was forced to bunny hop into the grass to avoid going down. Manimal stayed upright and got second in what looked to be a photo finish. (Breaking news is Stephen is joining Tripower. Welcome. Next time I won’t have to chase you down.)

Rolled back to the crash site where Tim was picking up the pieces. His frame and front wheel were trashed. And he took a good blow, but he’ll be OK. Someone took a bad line going into the final corner and messed up the entire front group.

I love to ride and race, but this crashing thing is nuts. I’ve been down unexpectedly in a crit myself. Sometimes I think it’s just not worth it, but the rush is amazing. Just got to be careful.


Millie also raced again, getting third again and having fun. She wasn’t her usual vigorous self though and by night-night time was burning up a massive fever and throwing up. After a couple of days she’s fine, but it’s so sad to see your kid feeling so down.

Too old to race

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Tried to sneak into the kids race in hopes of winning something this weekend, but the officials called me out because of the facial hair. Haven’t they seen kids today with their wispy ‘staches? (Photo courtesy of Sidewhiner.)

Tour de Olde Towne

Saturday’s Tour de Port was more like the Tour de Olde Towne, starting on High Street, turning north on Crawford Parkway, then bashing down Court Street past all the old homes. I had to leave Ellie’s swim meet a little early to make my Cat 4 race.

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This great shot from JB shows Bill G, Tim S and I toward the front early in the race. I felt fairly confident and comfortable in my Cat 4 debut. I attacked on Lap 5 or so and went for an early prime of a Giro helmet. I need a new helmet. Unfortunately Bender from SR Racing joined me and there was no coming around him. The sprint cooked me, so I dropped back.

Tim got away in another breakaway and once I’d recovered I went to front to help Bill and Art block. Their breakaway stuck, so with five laps to go, I went for another prime and won $25 – my first road racing earnings. While 10 guys were up the road in the large breakaway, there were still some Virginia BAR points on the line for Bill, so I came to front again on the bell lap as the group turned onto Court Street to lead him out. The rough stretch of road seemed to last forever, even as I ramped the speed up. I wanted to take Bill around the corner on to High for the finishing straightaway, but I hit a pot hole, which threw me off and he was on his own.

I rolled across well down, not contesting the sprint. We rode with sensors on our bikes, which delivered a lot of speed and positioning data. Not sure I get it all or what value it has, but I guess it’s interesting to look at.

Michele brought the girls over later and Millie raced the kids race. Wish I could spin like this:

She had a blast. Here she is posing after the race.

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Two blues for Ellie

Ellie had another good swim meet on Saturday, scoring two blue ribbons and cutting more time off her butterfly en route to second.

Here’s the 25-free she won:

And here her team’s 100-meter free relay swims a tight race against the Broad Bay Country Club girls. Ellie has the anchor leg in the closer lane. She gets off the wall great.

Ellie just out-touches the other girl at the end as they win by .05 seconds!