Monthly Archives: July 2008

Summer Saturday rest days

For many cyclists Saturday is the day to get up early and ride long and hard with your favorite group of local hammerheads, but not in the summertime for me. Most summer Saturdays are for my daughters’ swim meets. I still get up early, but we must hurry off to our own pool or someone else’s for five hours of sizzling in the sun as heat after heat of kids swim for blue, red, white and countless other ribbons.

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to ride to three of the away meets so far, but the 17- to 20-mile spins make it more of a rest day to me.

Fortunately I love to watch Ellie and Millie compete. Ellie is one of the top swimmers in our local division in the 25 free and her 100-free girls relay team is superstrong, lowering our club record three times this year. Millie emerged as the fastest 5-year-old as well in both the freestyle and the back – amazing because she could barely swim a length of the pool when the summer began.

This Saturday is the summer’s last meet – the coveted All-Star meet where the swimmers with the top 12 times from the six local divisions come together. Ellie is seeded sixth in the 25 free thanks to the 16.93 she swam last week, so she’ll be in the final heat. And her relay team is seeded second. I can’t wait to see both events. (Millie’s not going since she swims against 6-year-olds, but if she continues to improve I wouldn’t be surprised to see her there next year.)

Soon my Saturday mornings will be for riding again, not just rest or spinning days.

At least until soccer begins.

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Fixin’ to be timed

Yes, that’s me sprinting up to speed at the start of Sunday’s Peter L. Teeuwen Time Trial (named after the former owner of my house). Yes, I rode my first (and only) time trial this year. One has to be reminded on occasion why one doesn’t like TTs. It’s a lot like the old hammer saying – it feels good when you stop hitting yourself. And yes, I rocked my fixed gear.

I don’t own a time trial bike; I don’t own a time trial helmet; I had to borrow the clip-on bars from¬†Tripower teammate¬†Chad. I set up the Specialized with 54×16 gearing, figuring correctly I could spin it pretty well in what was supposed to be light wind conditions.

So much for supposed to. It wasn’t real windy, but the there was a stiff southwesterly breeze blowing across the fields of southern Chesapeake by the time I started at 10:21. I sprinted up to speed, got a good cadence going and rolled south. My goal was just to finish between 55 minutes and one hour, considering I do no time trial-specific training. I kept a steady cadence down Shillelagh and over Benefit to the Causeway, which hurt badly as it was a full-on headwind. I’d hoped for some relief on Ballahack, but it was more cross and after the turn onto Bunch Walnuts, there were too many trees for there to be a tailwind.

Still I wasn’t passed until the turn back onto Shillelagh, so I felt like that was a good sign. But I also hadn’t caught anyone. I had no data other than time on my wristwatch, so it was hard for me to tell how I was doing. Two more guys came by me in the wooded stretch of Shillelagh, but I just couldn’t up my cadence. When I finally broke out into the fields and felt a tailwind, I was able to push the cadence, but it was too little too late. I rolled across in 58 minutes flat.

Checking on Sheldon Brown’s gear calculator, spinning a 54×16 at 90 rpm works out to about 23.7mph, which is about what I averaged considering the course is 23 miles.

I’ll do a fixed gear time trial again someday. I’ll be sure the wind is lighter (I checked later and it was blowing a 10mph with 15 mph gusts) and possibly use an even bigger gear. And I’m still not about to go out and buy a TT bike.

Tripower did real well. Gilmer won the Cat 3s. JLaw won 50+. Father Time was 3rd in the 40+ with the best Tripower time of the day. The ladies took first, second and 4th. I’ll be lucky if I was in the top 15 of the Cat 4s. I finished about 7:15 behind JacobT from Richmond who has been tearing up TTs this year.

The photo above is from Pablo Custodio who shot the start/finish.

Backstretch blues

Leave it to me to get 5th in a race and be a little frustrated with myself, but I feel like I had even more in my legs for the Bryan Park Circuit Race on Sunday. The race went well enough with teammate and new Cat 4 Jerry strutting his stuff at the front and putting on a nice show for his kids who came to watch. I sat in midpack the first few laps, but moved up every time up the backstretch climb. Yet our race slowed dramatically every time we crested the second kicker. There was a slight headwind, but it seemed more like everybody was trying to recover. Then we’d go screaming through the final turn and up the little hill to the finish.

By the 4th or 5th of 13 laps, I attacked on the backstretch as the slowdown occurred, but no one came with me and as always with the 4s it prompted an immediate response and they pulled me back by the finish line. A few laps later I went again, but earlier, attacking hard out of the tight turn and up the hill. I crested the hill with 50 meters on the group and a passenger. I let him pull through, but he was immediately flicking his elbow, so I just sat up. He didn’t give me any time to recover and clearly couldn’t pull us and I wasn’t ready to keep going.

For the remaining laps I stayed as close to the front as possible. Things hotted up going into the final lap and, as we screamed down into the tight corner, I was in about 10th wheel. As we came out of the corner, accelerating hard, I heard and then saw a nasty crash on the far right. (Turns out it was Braden Govoni from Carytown Bicycles, the race organizer; he broke his collarbone and was out of it for a while; hope he heals up well.) Despite the crash, we hammered up the hill and I thought we’d finally keep going. But once again the line of riders spread out five across and slowed to 22mph as we rolled the backstretch. I was stuck in the middle. An attack finally went on the right, but I would have had to take someone out to get on that train. At least that prompted those in front of me to ride again.

Down into the final corner I was probably 25 meters behind the attacking riders when I finally saw some daylight and opened up my sprint. I got past all but five coming up the hill and pipped a guy at the line for fifth. I felt amazing in the sprint and only wish it had been longer. I might have moved up even more. Jerry got a great 9th and Art came in 17th.

I liked the Bryan Park course. It was just hard enough to wear on the legs and sort out weaker riders. Flatter, shorter crits don’t necessarily do that.

postscript: Thanks for the call, Art. (Art called me from bad traffic on 64, west of Lightfoot, and told me both the highway and Route 60 were backed up. I got off at exit 227 and took a bunch of back roads I’ve learned from riding with Dan up there. I was able to get back on at exit 238 just past the wreck of an RV. I called Art and he was still back at milepost 232. Ugh. Sorry.)

Hilbert finale

Mark Junkerman and his RunRideRace.com put on yet another excellent mountain bike race at Camp Hilbert. Oddly, I think the turnout was weaker than the first race in March, but the overnight rain, heat and Fourth of July weekend may have kept people away. They missed out. The course drained beautifully and was in great condition for our noon race.

I rode up with Tripp (above), who threw down an excellent race in the single speeds to come in 3rd. His new program seems to be working for him. It’s been fun hanging out with him recently too. He’s got a great sardonic sense of humor.

This was my first race on the new Trek frame. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the bike or my form, so I started conservatively at the back of an 11-man expert vet field. We big-ringed it into the woods and rolled fast for first three miles. I passed Scott from Arsenal, then Kevin let me by early in the first of four laps. I dropped out of the big ring at the base of the first big climb and spun away. Later in the lap I passed another ex-vet on a climb and kept rolling. I never saw anyone else in front of me save the incredibly courteous enduro riders, who quickly moved aside.

I felt amazing. It might have been the bike, but I feel like my position and the suspension are not yet dialed in. I had a cooler at the finish line with fresh water bottles for each lap, so that helped. The guy behind me kept creeping up on me in the more technical sections, but I’d pull away on every climb. I was afraid he’d catch me, so I rode the last lap somewhat defensively, saving something in case I had to push hard to stay in front of him. I shouldn’t have. I finished in 7th place, my best at this level, only 33 seconds out of 6th and a little more than a minute behind my teammate Jerry. It was easily my strongest mountain bike race ever. Still Crazy Mike put 2:30 into me each lap to win. Not sure I’ll ever get that fast.

The three photos above come from teammate Chad’s Flickr page. Here’s one last cool pic from a pro shooter who was out Sunday.

Millie breaks through

My Millie had a breakthrough swim meet on Saturday. She carved 7 seconds off her 25-meter freestyle, swimming it in just over 39 seconds, and finishing 7th in the 6-and-unders. Then she lopped 8 seconds off her 25-meter backstroke, finishing in 5th place with a time of just over 42 seconds. She was the fastest 5-year-old in both strokes. She also swam her mixed relay team into a solid 4th place. Not bad for her third meet. I think we’ve got another swimmer on our hands.

Ellie swam in two relays that got 1st and swam to two 2nds in the 25-free and 25-breast, but was disappointed that she didn’t improve her times. She also didn’t have a good butterfly. She’s been working on the stroke with her coaches and one remarked she swam with her head and not her body. Still I think her ribbon haul was pretty good. The photo above is her start for the breast stroke.

Let Freedom Ride #2

For the second year in a row, Danbo led a Fourth of July ride from Freedom Park in Williamsburg. Unlike last year, this was a road ride – 50 miles up into New Kent County. Kevin made it for the second running and Harlan, Jerry and Chad joined us. We missed you Liz (who was with us last year).

I felt terrible early in the ride until about 20 miles in when Dan observed that my rear brake was cockeyed and rubbing. I felt a little better after that, but the damage was done. My legs just hurt. Still we had fun. Jerry flew up every hill and killed us with deadly pulls on the flats. He is riding strong right now.

This last photo is begging for a caption. Anyone?

Swim Saturday/Ride Sunday

The girls swam another great meet on Saturday. Ellie swam a 50-meter breast against 12-and-under girls (she’s 10) and managed 4th place. It was cool to see her do so well against the older girls. Millie carved three seconds off 25-meter free for another 11th place and then swam her first 25-meter backstroke and came in 7th (the fastest 5-year-old in the 6-and-unders)! Wow.

On Sunday, we gathered a crew of dirt riders and hit Wahrani in New Kent County for some laps so I could try out my new Trek Top Fuel. I spent most of the time chasing Jerry, Kevin and a strong Rob through the woods. The bike took a little getting used to, but not much. I need to firm up the rear suspension a bit and replace the old Race Face crankset, which is too worn out. I definitely am happy with it. It rode nicely and I felt like I could keep going and going on it.

Can’t wait to race it Sunday at Camp Hilbert.