Monthly Archives: March 2008

Taking out Jeff Cup

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Not sure if the best part is the money, the doomed bunny, the Jefferson Cup I never got when I went to UVA or the stupid smile I can’t get rid of, but I won my first road race today. I sprinted to the win in Cat 4 at the Jeff Cup in Charlottesville, racing in a field of 125 riders drawn from Virginia, Maryland, D.C. and North Carolina.

I’m also not sure I can say for sure how it happened. I talked to several people about the race and absorbed the advice. Stay close to the front going into the big climb; be in the top 15 on the final turn; don’t go too early.

I followed their advice as best I could. I found the race a bit frustrating for how it yo-yo’d, speeding down descents, then crawling up climbs. I had to ride my brakes on the downhills, since I descend like a stone as a big guy, then no one would carry momentum up the next roller. I attacked twice, once in the first lap and again in the second lap, but 4s tend to not let anyone get away. I spent much of the third lap recovering from the last attack and drifting too far back in the field. But I was able to move up throughout the fourth lap.

I think I rolled through the final turn in exactly 15th. The final mile seemed almost as if it unfolded in slow motion and not just because it’s uphill. With about 1K to go a group of three separated off the front by about 10 meters. Someone said later they started sprinting too soon. I sat in the next group about 6th wheel, feeling comfortable and sort of waiting for someone to do something. About 500 meters from the finish, the Carytown rider in front of me jumped to bridge, I went with him. We caught them with about 250 meters to go. He went around them to the right and I jumped left. Suddenly there was no one in front of me. I kept waiting for someone to pass, but I even got to lift my arms as I crossed the line.

I owe thanks to new teammate Nate for driving up there and back, Art for being there and the rest of the Tripower crew for making me stronger every time I ride with them. And thanks to the race organizers for putting on a good race.

Hope someone out there got pictures from the finish.

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Four score and…

Medusa’s Revenge podium

That’s the podium for the Medusa’s Revenge alley cat race, er, scavenger hunt in Norfolk on Saturday. I’m in the middle with the “Helm of Hades” (the cap of invisibility used by Perseus to slay Medusa), David in second with Adamantine Sword and Liz in third with the mirrored bronze shield. Kurtz came up with a cool theme and course, calling for visits to statues in across Ghent, ODU and downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth. Well done, young man.

I rolled on my new fixed gear Specialized Langster to level the playing field some. I’d been riding my cyclocross bike on the last three of these.

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After meeting at Colley and Harrington, we started over beside Blair Middle School, locking our bikes up and doing a LeMans style start. After riding 40-some-odd miles hard in the morning, I was not sprinting for my bike. We started at about 10 ’til 4, so I had 25 minutes to collect information from assorted statues in Norfolk before the next ferry left Waterside for Portsmouth. Since the wind had shifted around to the north I decided to start against it and rolled up to the St. Mary’s Cemetary, near the zoo, where I needed to get some dates off “the biggest Jesus.” He was easy to find. Liz rolled up as I was leaving. I rode down Monticello, then Armistead to Princess Anne and Elmwood Cemetary, where I had to find out when the Confederate Dead Memorial was erected.

Then I shot downtown to the MacArthur Memorial to find out when the general was born and over to Main Street to the big Civil War monument to learn when was the final reunion of veterans of that war. I hadn’t seen anybody since leaving Liz at the cemetary, but they were all waiting for the ferry when I arrived. Liz caught up in time to catch the ferry too.

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We enjoyed a peaceful ride across the Elizabeth. For some reason the ferry makes two stops in Portsmouth within blocks of each other. Kurtz assured us that we could hit the three Portsmouth monuments in time to catch the ferry back to Norfolk at the second stop. He and I rolled down High Street, hitting the statue of William Cra(w)ford and another Confederate monument ( lot of those around here), then up to North Street and what I can only presume is a Spanish-American War monument, since the answer we were looking for on it was “Cuba.” Back to the ferry and we actually had to wait for it.

Another pleasant boat ride, though that north wind was getting cold, and we were back in Norfolk. Quickly collected the name of the sculptor of “The Tourists” outside Waterside, then rolled along the waterfront past the Wisconsin to the “Lone Sailor” statue. Back into Ghent, I hit the big statue in front of the Chrysler and the carved saints on Christ & St. Luke’s before making the haul into the wind up Colley to 24th St. then Killam Ave. through Park Place. At Norfolk Machine & Welding on 41st St. I found the number on the “Iron Man’s Hat,” then scooted onto the ODU campus to see how many columns supported the Monarch Lion at the end of Kaufman Mall. Again, I hadn’t seen anyone since leaving Liz at the “Lone Sailor,” where she asked that I just not finish a beer before she finished. No worries, Liz.

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With all the answers I needed I beat it back to the finish line at the Tap House, scrambling down Bowden’s Ferry, across Hampton and through the underpass on the sidewalk. I locked my bike up, went inside, bought a beer, visited the boy’s room and went back outside to enjoy my St. George Porter. As I was sitting down David and race organizer Kurtz rolled up nearly five minutes after I arrived.

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Liz came along almost 10 minutes later. Then the rest trickled in slowly. Wes came along with Abby in tow having hit all the landmarks and borrowed a memento from one of the Confederate sites.

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Liz was elated, remarking that this may be the only podium she makes all year and proudly showing off her bronze platter, er, shield.

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A little local knowledge and quick, sound planning go a long way in alley catting. It really is a fun way to race. Heck, it would just be a fun way to ride, even with a bunch of slow folks or newcomers to cycling. It’s a great way to learn more about where you live, see some sights and get more comfortable on your bike. It’s a shame more people don’t come out for these because they really are a lot of fun. We started with about nine or 10 people. Tried to get a group shot at the Tap House, but this is what happens when you let someone else take a photo (I manipulated it as much as I could):

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Oh, Kurtz was real creative with the prizes. He scored the “Helm of Hades” at Goodwill. Check it out:

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La Primavera

The 99th Milan-San Remo rolls Saturday. This flashback from 1992 shows ultimate hard man Sean Kelly attempting to chase down Moreno Argentin on the hairpins descending the Poggio. Kelly sports one of the early hardshell helmets. (I love that you can find these old racing clips on YouTube.)

The classics season has begun. After Italy, Belgium!

Calling all fast cats

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Another Norfolk alley cat is in the offing this Saturday. This one looks to cross the river, which could be a great equalizer. Come out and play. This cat will be rolling fixed for the first time (and coming off a long morning training ride).

Ellie’s surprising seven

Ellie had another strong swim meet, cutting a few more tenths of a second off her 50 free and almost winning that race. More significantly she swam a real strong 100 IM, but let her tell you about it.

Unfortunately, the meet was taking so long that she had to skip the 50 butterfly, her strongest stroke, to make U11 advanced squad’s first soccer game of the year. As it is, she left the pool after the IM, jumped in the car and still didn’t arrive until after the game started.

Eighth is my place

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Eighth place seems to be mine so far this year on the road. After finishing there in B race at Snowball No. 1, that’s where I landed Saturday at the VBW Smackdown.

I’m surprised I finished that well. The little ones made sleep short and interrupted Friday night, so I wasn’t a fount of energy. Plus I got up early to take Ellie to her final swim meet, which ran long so I didn’t get to the race venue at Sleepy Hole Park until 30 minutes before my race. After I changed and registered, I barely had 1o minutes to warm up. But enough with the excuses, I honestly just didn’t feel like my legs were there.

The course was a very narrow running track that might safely accommodate four riders abreast at a parade pace. But we were 34 or so running at an average 25mph. The tight first corner was downright frightening. I’m sure I hit my brakes more in this crit than in any other I’ve ever ridden. The narrow course made it difficult to move around in the group, so I spent much of the race deep in the pack. I did bridge to a two-man breakaway early in the race, but right after I made the juncture the officials rang the bell for a prime. I decided to go for that rather than trying to make the breakaway stick. Naturally, a rider from Richmond pipped me at the line for the $10 as shown in the photo above from Kevin.

I moved up on the inside in the last few laps, but didn’t want to get too close to the front. My mistake. I slotted in about 10th wheel, but we rolled the last lap at nearly 30mph and I wasn’t able to move up further. Coming out of the final curve I was only able to pass two riders and the leaders clearly pulled away from me. Nice win by one-time Monday night running mate Dave Erickson from JRVS.

It was cool to watch the 3 race and the 1,2 race after. Bender was superstrong throughout the 3 race, driving a nine-man break that lapped the field. But he got pipped by VBW’s Nisbet in the sprint. Greco bridged to a powerful break early in the 1,2 race and held on for a while. Still don’t know how that race turned out, but he dropped off their torrid pace right before I left.

A Hilbert too far

Results have been posted for the first Camp Hilbert MTB race of the year. The numbers confirm my narrative below – I started strong (probably too strong)… turning fast laps of 37 minutes, 36 minutes, 37 minutes and 38 minutes to lie in 5th about halfway through the race.

Then the wheels came off. My next lap took nearly 46 minutes. Cramping, I almost quit, but I drank a lot and literally slogged through a sixth lap in nearly 64 minutes. Oddly I recovered somewhat about a third of the way into my seventh lap and rode that in 47 minutes.

I finished 20th out of 44 starters in 5:05 as shown here. Not bad, but certainly not great. Jimmy D turned 7 laps, 10 minutes faster than I did, to finish in 18th. Kevin did eight in 5:55 to come in 15th and IF-man Mr. Russell of Staunton rolled eight in just under 5:31 to finish in 8th. The winner somehow did nine laps in 5:36!

As much as that hurt, I’ll probably take another stab at enduro. I’m not satisfied with how I did.

Also found some pics of me racing: here. (The links are wonky.)

Thanks again to organizer RunRideRace.