Monthly Archives: April 2008

Epic parents vs. girls match

The coach of Ellie’s U11 advanced squad issued this challenge to the parents:

“Our last practice this season will be Tuesday April 29th and it has been a tradition for the last 3 seasons that the girls take on the parents for end of the season bragging rights; therefore, this Tuesday dust off your cleats and come out by 5PM so you can see up close if Scotti is really as tough as she looks on the field. Can you keep up with Cherise as she blows by you as if you are standing still? Don’t let Mary Elizabeth fool you; I still have a scab from where she cleated my shin two weeks ago. Do not worry if you are not in shape to run the field for 45 minutes there will need to be a goalie for the parents to stop Ellie’s point blank shots because your defensive players can’t run another step.”

How could I resist? Plus I’m the assistant coach, so I make any practice I can.

We had a good turnout and played 10 v. 10. It was a lot of fun. Ellie drew first blood on this play after I lost the ball – she made a great kick on the run that soared just over the outstretched fingers of Alexis’ dad:

Later in the half, I pulled my hamstring rushing a loose ball in the goal after Coach Mike’s son bobbled his father’s shot on this play – I overextended my stride sprinting in, then he and I kicked the ball at the same moment:

I kept playing though and Coach Mike scored for the parents early in the second half. Then Ellie went into the goal freeing Coach Mike’s son to play on the field with the girls. Ellie blocked a difficult shot from me as I attacked along the backline. Then Coach Mike’s son scored a go-ahead goal for the girls and he went back to playing goalie.

Later I got another breakaway and was one-on-one with him, but since he’s such a good goalie I hesitated. He rushed me and I flicked it over to Meghan’s mom who popped the ball in to even the score. (Technically, she was offsides, but we’d already decided that we wouldn’t call offsides in the game.)

The game ended a few minutes later, much to Ellie’s chagrin, 2-2. But it was exhausting for all of us parents not used to running that much around the soccer pitch. Soon enough we parents won’t stand a chance against this group of girls. They’re getting strong.

Next up, the end of season tournament. Ellie likely will end up playing five games this weekend: three on Saturday and two Sunday, including select games on both days. Unfortunately her advanced tournament championship game (if her team makes it) would conflict with her Sunday select game.

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Instant classic?

Watch the two-part finale of this year’s Monte Paschi Eroica below and tell me that race doesn’t have the look and feel of a classic despite this being just the second running. Each segment runs about 10 minutes, so sit back and enjoy.

Part 1:

Part 2

I first saw these on Belgium Knee Warmers and wanted to share. Looks like a gorgeous part of Italy even in early March. The crowds are small, but the racing and roads look truly difficult. Almost reminds me of a less mountainous Ironcross.

Interestingly the results are very similar to Paris-Roubaix minus Tom Boonen. Fabulous Cancellara takes first, Ballan second and Slipstream revelation Maaskant slotting into fourth. Slipstream’s Steve “Fly Stache” Cozza said he’d be back to a “cool” Eroica.

Sloppy Sunday

The plan was to get up early and scoot over to Newport News to the Casey Crit so Ellie could race Juniors, then I’d race 40+. That way we’d be back in Norfolk in time for her 2:15 p.m. soccer game. But the rain Sunday morning changed both out minds.

Ellie didn’t want to race in the wet again. I didn’t want to race on that course when it was wet. The track around Todd Stadium is hairy enough when it’s dry. Turns out there were a number of crashes, including one that took out four Cat 4 racers, whom I usually race with, sending one to the hospital; and another involving BJ, Tripower’s power-riding grandma. She broke her collarbone, gashed her knee and banged her head hard enough for a mild concussion.

Meanwhile, a large Tripower contingent went west to Ashland for the Twisted Tire MTB race at Poor Farm. Kevin describes the nasty conditions, which lead to more DNFs than finishers. Jerry went ass-over-teakettle and nearly gave himself a gender reassignment with his handlebars and brake lever. Ouch. (Good thing you missed, buddy.) Still there were some good results there as Liz toughed out third in expert women and Mark rolled to third in sport men.

In the afternoon, we took Ellie over to Lake Taylor for her select game. As the girls started to warm-up lightning flashed, which led the ref to call the preceding game. We sat in the van as it poured for about 20 minutes. The rain eased about 10 minutes before the start and the game was on. I told Ellie to score as quickly as she could to give her team an edge in case her game got called too. And lo and behold, Ellie got a sweet through pass and scored in less than 45 seconds. Wow.

She had several more great chances, but the ball rolled just wide right and wide left. The opposing goalie blocked another strong shot from her. Her team went on to score two more goals and, thanks to really strong defensive play from her teammates on the back line, won 3-0.

Amazingly, it stopped raining and by the end of the game, the sun was shining bright. When I got home, I jumped on my fixie and rolled over to Colley Ave. to see if the Global Gutz alley cat, organized locally by Kurtz and David, was going down as planned. It was supposed to be an exactly 13-mile race with five checkpoints timed against the clock, so we could compete with racers from Germany to Australia. Turns out our course was more like 15 miles and the wind killed any chance we had to be competitive.

The course took us from Ghent through ODU to the end of Powhatan, up Hampton Boulevard, over Little Creek Road, down Granby Street and over to Plum Point Park on the riverfront. It was fun, but the stiff southeasterly made the run down Granby a slog, especially since I’m still pushing 54×16 from the track race last weekend. Still I finished in about 49 minutes, about four minutes before Wes rolled up and in time to buy a $2 Virginia draft – I chose the St. George IPA – at the Sunday happy hour at the Taphouse on 21st Street.

Fortunately the rain held off and everybody stayed upright in our scavenger hunt. And this time Kurtz even bought me a beer. Thanks!

Here’s hoping everyone heals up fast.

Hat trick plus one

Ellie had another terrific game in what turned out to be a losing effort by her U-11 advanced squad. After a sluggish start, she came to life, scoring with a strong ball from the left wing to even the game at 1-1.

In the second half, she was expertly set up several more times by Demetra, a teammate who also plays on a U-11 select squad, scoring three more times, including the one shot by Michele above. The last put our girls up 4-3, but the other team scored moments after their kickoff and a defensive breakdown with just a minute to go gave them the one goal margin they needed.

Still Ellie played an awesome game. Besides scoring she served several really nice crosses that her teammates just couldn’t convert. But they’re really getting the idea. There’s a lot of soccer being played. And Ellie once again demonstrated she’s got a nose for the goal and a mean left foot.

Back in my place

Eighth found me again today as I hesitated around the final turn when the big jump came. That’s three 8ths in crits this year.

I stayed close to the front throughout the race. I even jumped away for back-to-back $5 primes with about 10 laps to go, but even though I created a good gap (read: they let me go), I sat up and waited. I knew I’d fry if I tried to keep rolling. Going into the last few laps I stayed very close to the front. Patrick McKeegan got a terrific jump with two laps to go. He built a good gap, but in the final lap Jacob Tremblay buried himself with me on his wheel and closed him down. I thought I was in great position, but I stayed with Jacob too long after a rider jumped in the final turn.

Throughout the race, I felt kind of tired. My legs still are not in their happy place.

The team had a decent day. Silly Sal pipped Laura in the smallish women’s 1,2,3 race. Hosang got 2nd, I think, in the 30+. David got 3rd in the 5s with Zack not far back. I’m not sure what happened later in the afternoon. One thing is for sure, there were a lot of Tripower riders representing.

Humble pie

The Langley Speedway crits on Sunday served me up a hearty helping of humble pie. One teammate suggested that I let the Jeff Cup win inflate my head, creating too much drag. (Thanks, K-Dawg.)

For whatever reason, I was shut out completely at Langley and deservedly so. I never felt comfortable on the bike Sunday. Maybe I rode too hard last week – a hard Tuesday night in the rain, 30 miles on the fixed gear Thursday, a Saturday morning spin that became a tough slog because of stiff winds. Come Sunday the legs felt dead in the races, but I didn’t know that when I signed in.

Feeling ambitious, I registered for the Cat 4 race at 10am, the 40+ race at 11am, followed by the novice track race at noon. So I was committed to racing three races back-to-back-to-back with just 10 minutes in between each.

The Cat 4 race started well. I had little problem sitting in. Jimmy D and I tried a little counterattack at one point mid-race building as much as a third of a lap lead. But soon after Cory Scott bridged up to us, the group did too. A while later, they called out a $100 prime, which I’d been planning to go for; however, I jumped a little slowly and had to make up about five bike lengths on three guys who jumped first. By the time we came around to the home stretch, I’d made it up to their wheels, but couldn’t close the rest of the way. Then I made mistake No. 2. I hadn’t realized there were only five laps to go and dropped back too far to recover and got boxed in during the final laps. I was still toward the back entering the final lap and wasn’t strong enough to move all the way up to the front when the group is rolling over 30mph. Realizing I couldn’t, I sort of sat up in the final turn not seeing much point in sprinting for 15th place and rolled across in 23rd.

I kept rolling around the 0.4-mile track, so my legs would stay loose. The family arrived and it was cool to see and hear the girls yelling for me. I stopped at my cooler in the infield for a hit of gel and a bottle change before lining up with the 40+ field. It was fun to be racing with Bill, Tim (pictured above with me), Greco and Musante, who’d also done the 4 race with me. This race was very different than the 4s. Whereas the speed in the 4s was consistently fast (we averaged 26.6mph on my computer), the speed yo-yo’d in the 40+. One minute we’d be rolling along at 22 or 23mph, then someone would attack and everyone would be going 30+ and I’d be scrambling to close a gap. It was like sprinting over and over again. I felt like a much sloppier bike handler too during this race because I was tired. I did manage to set up a breakaway for Tim than turned into the winning move as a group of 8 or so got away and lapped the field. I tried to stay on Tim’s wheel in the closing laps to keep others off it, but lost it with two laps to go, then blew a gasket with one to go. I had nothing in the tank for the final jump and just rolled across second-to-last in the group.

Needless to say the 10-lap novice track race was a disaster. My legs felt like lead. I tried to stay near the front of the group, but all I could do was tempo. To abuse a cliche, I had no more matchsticks to burn, and when the big jump came in the final lap all I could was pedal squares, finishing dead last. I ran a 54×16 set-up and wonder what others were pushing.

Between the warm-up and all the races I got in about 50 miles on the bike, much of it at race speed, so maybe some good will come of it. It will be a while before I do back-to-back races again. That was hard. Still a bad day on the bike is a good one.

The rest of the day was very nice. Ellie had a U-10 select soccer game in Virginia Beach. She scored her team’s lone goal off a beautiful corner kick from one of her teammates. Unfortunately the other team tied it up later in the game after some miscommunication between our goalie and her defenders. But it was fun to watch the girls who are still learning to play together.

Then we headed over to Crazy and Brenna’s for a Tripower cookout. It was a nice way to cap the day and the kids had a lot of fun running around with each other.

The girl can rock

Ellie ran real strong Friday to win the fifth grade fun run Friday at her school. She passed many of the boys who started a minute in front of her on the nearly mile-long course and beat the next closest girl by at least a minute. I’m very proud of her. She paced herself this year, which is very cool.