Monday, March 26, 2007

“Today was a good day” – 125 miles in the saddle

After race cool down.

I drove down to the race with my teammate Dustin. As anyone with kids knows…if you have the opportunity to ride…seize it. Connie was at a conference and Landon was at her parent’s house. So I was kinda planning on riding back to Medina pending the weather and how I felt after the race. After waiting around a bit for the cat 1-3 class to finish, I looked at the skies and decided it was not going to rain on my parade today, so I stocked up on the hammer stuff and water and began the 78 mile ride back to Medina. The one thing I didn’t think about until Dustin was long gone, was daylight hours. I don’t think I left Mid Ohio til 3:15-3:30ish. I don’t remember, but I knew sundown was at 7:45 so that gave me 4 hours to get home safely. Doing the math meant holding a 20mph pace. I turned up the mp3 player to block out the hum of the wind and entered into my 4 hour tempo workout. The bike responded and I worked on a lot of things. Mainly my new pedal stroke. I was amazed at how well everything was flowing. When I felt weakness in the legs it was because I was reverting back to my old pedal stroke. A mental note to adjust my stoke and the pain was gone, speed and tempo increased and all was good! The wind was coming out of the west at a pretty steady rate, the forecast said 14mph and I’d have to agree. The ride north was the most grueling part, constant wind beating the right side of my body, with guest giving me a good battle every now and then. It got cloudy dark several times but only drizzled. Once I turned and headed east, it was Nirvana (An ideal condition of rest, harmony, stability and joy) The wind at my back up’d my speed to 25mph for a good 1 hour. Then the sun came out and brought a renewed warmth and bliss that took me once again to a very happy place. As the sun was setting, I was entering Chatham and did not think I would make it. I stopped and called Connie to tell her my progress and she might have to pick me up, but she was still at her Parents. It was up to me to get home. I pulled in my driveway at 7:45. Total ride time of 4 hours. I spent 13 minutes looking at maps, eating, mixing my drink, and trying to get cell phone reception.

All in All it made for a 125 mile day. 6 miles warming up for race, 40 mile race, 78 miles home. It was the first time I average 20mph by myself on a ride day over 100 miles. Ice Cube’s song kept creeping into my heading….”Today was a good day!”

Mid Ohio Tour (road race #1)

The race to 3RD place.

Saturday was my first road race of the season at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, newly repaved I might add. You never know what Mother Nature is going to dish out this early in the season and Saturday was no different. It rained all morning as a band of thunderstorms crashed through Ohio. It was grey skies and wet conditions come race start time around 1:00 but after the first couple minutes of water in your face you forgot about it. I think there were 30-40 guys in the cat 3-4 class. Steve and I were the only ones from the Solon squad in this division. Dustin entered his first road race in the cat 4-5 class. Steve and I were looking around and deciding who we were going to chase down & mark but as the race unfolded we ended up alternating chasing breaks. After a couple of laps Steve looked at me and said “dude - we can’t continue this for 25 laps” and he was right. We had to rely on the other teams to do a little work and hope a break did not form without one of us in it. To make a long story short, Steve and I ended up doing our fair share of the work upfront chasing down and jumping in the breaks, but that was also shared with Stark Velo, Team Echelon and a few other guys. Nobody got away.

I’ll spare ya the lap by lap details. As we entered the last couple of laps, I was not sure how my legs would respond to last weeks training efforts in NC- climbing Mt. Mitchell and riding Pisqah. But I was looking for a good workout and I got it. The last couple laps came and went, Steve & I stayed up front and tried to rest a bit. On the last lap I inched towards the front after the s-turn and waited to see who my dancing partners were going to be. Then on the hill before the last turn into the straight away the attack began. I thought this might be a bit early, but I didn’t want to let this one slip away and jumped in. I was third as we entered the headwind on the straight away to the finish line. Then someone in front of me totally sat up, spent their legs, I went to go around them but whoever was behind me blocked me in and I touched the breaks to avoid the rider and waited for him to get to the side, I then stomped down and caught the guy that passed me and got in his slipstream, then he completely sat up. I could not believe it. This was the most inefficient sprint effort I have ever done. I sure know how to pick em! So after losing momentum for the second time and the finish line somewhere in front of me I stood up and hammered down one last time and did what I could. I had the energy when I crossed the finish line but I feel I let this one slip away from lack of experience in road racing. That's the way it goes - but it was fun non-the-less. I ended up in Third place. Steve took 8th place. This was only the second time on my new road bike – Specialized SW Roubaix. It took me a few laps to adjust to the cockpit, but then she fit like a glove and everything melted together for the perfect blend. The tires hooked up on the wet course and the bike responded to everything I threw at it.

Stark Velo rider Scott Thor has another review of the race here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Weekender to North Carolina

For the last two years I've been trying to hook up with the March team training ride to Asheville, NC, but a few minor things always seem to get crop up, like my son Landon being born. The stories always seem epic and the riding is so good one of my teammates moved there 2 years ago. This year Connie & I made it a must and took friday off and made the 9 hour drive, met up at Bruce's house and settled into the weekend of riding bliss.

Saturday - Pisgah

Picture of tunnel trail at Bent Creek, part of Pisgah National Forest. This is where we started our ride saturday morning. Then we rode our bikes over to Pisgah and hit some monster climbs and ass flos'n decents.
I was going to write up more about Pisgah, truely an unbelievable place to ride, but Bob already has that covered with a sweat review of that day...check it out here on our team website.
On a side note, 1/2 way on the drive down to NC, Connie asks me if I packed her shoes and helmet? She ended up with Bob's size 10's with 3 pairs of socks and newspapers stuffed in the toes. We adjusted the cleats all the way back, Bruce lent her an extra "orange" helmet and she was good to go!

Sunday -
Tres Amigos 18 Degree assault of Mount Mitchell

Sunday we woke up before sunrise to climb Mount Mitchell. This mountain rises more than a mile high and is surrounded by the gentle mist of low-hanging clouds. Mount Mitchell is the Highest Mountain in eastern America and soars 6,684 feet into the cold misty haze. The game plan, get everyone packed and into the vehicles and meet Ken and Ray at the Folk Art Center at sunrise. Oh ya...last night was Saint Patty's day. Fat chance in hell - impossible, but Dang we were close, only a half hour off with all the gear we had to load, for we where heading home as soon as we uncliped from the pedals. We all knew Ken & Ray would be on the bikes when we got there, so it actually gave for a quick start pace and chase down. Toss a carrot as strong as Ken and Ray in front of these hungry rabbits and its game on!

As we were climbing, I realized Mount Mitchell State Park is an extraordinary place. For a moment I forgot how flipping cold I was - when I looked out over the horizon I got a feast for my eyes—breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, rolling ridges and lush valleys. Another tranquil moment to add to the slideshow in my mind. The peaks where glazed with ice and rocky cliffs sparkled with icicles which then snapped and exploded, crashing to the road as we ascended. I'd go in and out of my happy place as the ice brought me back into reality. Ross, Todd and I were the only one's stupid enough to ascend to the top. When I checked the meters at the weather station up top it was 18 degrees. We grabbed a quick bite to eat, soaked up the scenery and made the mental preperations for the decent. We easily hit 30+ miles per hour on the way down, the wind chill had to be way below zero. We all stopped after the first 4 miles, jumped off our bikes and started running and dancing around, trying to get the feeling back in our burning fingers and toes. We could not talk, only make tribal sounds as our faces were numb and frozen. After a few minutes of this we finally could strike up a conversation and we decided to slow down a bit and stay in the sun when possible. As we made the hours long journey back it warmed up a few degrees. I forgot to mention, our entire route was gated off, it was nice having 30+ miles of road all to yourselves. I have not yanked the stats off my computer yet, but I'm hearing it was a round trip of 60 miles give or take. Sign me up for next year, there is so much more down there to explore!

Last week

Got in a great group ride last sunday. Gary, Brett, Brian, Jeff, Ross, Dustin, Mike & Steve. Alot of good conversation and catching up. Dispite the reputation of everyone, this was no hammerfest. The ride was kept in check for whatever reason. Auggie tried to suck eveyone in a couple of times, but he must have submitted to the group. I ended up with slightly more then 5 hours. The forecasters lied never got above 35 degrees. Oh out for black ice and cars. We had a scarry close call when one of us lost it on the ice and almost went under a car!

Tuesday saw a spike in the weather for 2 days. It hit near 70 degrees and it was actually sunny. Connie & I meet up after work at the bike and hike and took Landon for his first ride of the year - a 1 hour spin in the burley. Only possible due to the new day light savings thing - Thank you! We managed to dodge the melting snow and ice, the trail was was 90% dry...spring has got to be on the way. Back to reality- cold, wet and grey skies. We're hovering at that 30 degrees point that creates a rain snow slop mix and alot of unhappy cyclists.

More Razorback

A few more photos just surfaced from the Razorback race.
The start of the race - the run to the bikes -
seemed like a mile, but I think it was only a 1/4 to 1/2 mile

Enjoying the Flow