Friday, June 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Greg Lemond!

This is my favorite picture of the birthday boy - it's a far cry from the crotchety, bitter person he seems to be now...

In essence of his birthday, let's salute Lemond's 1989 World Championship victory!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Injury Update - A.K.A. Gary and His Technicolor Hip Bone

Road rash is healing up well. As for my hip... All that blood has to go somewhere, and it's just kinda pooling on my thigh. Here's a nice pic of my technicolor hematoma.

All the colors of the rainbow...

I went for a short ride outside on the cross bike this AM and it actually felt OK. Some pain going over really bumpy roads but not too bad.

The LOOK is getting a thorough check up at Kinetic so it's kinda out of commission for now. At a minimum I need to replace my wheels and probably the derailleur hanger (maybe the rear derailleur as well). We'll see.

Starting to think seriously about a new road bike.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tour de Mont Unpleasant

It's been a few weeks since my last official race and my form really seemed to be coming around so I decided kinda at the last minute to add the Tour de Mont Pleasant road race to my calendar. Originally, I had omitted it because the race was almost 3 hours from my house, but with my fitness improvements over the last few weeks, I was eager to test myself.

The race took place in the quaint, villageque downtown of Mont Pleasant - The town went all out putting this race on! All the streets were blocked off and there were grandstands and tents everywhere. They even got retired pro, Frankie Andreau as the announcer, which was pretty cool. All in all, I give the promoters and volunteers some big props for a race well done!

My race (Cat 4) started at 10:24 AM and was one loop of 33 miles and pretty much flat as a pancake. Typical Cat 4 races are usually 45 - 60 miles long, so this was kind of on the short side. Oh well, shorter distance makes for faster racing.

The weather was sunny and high 60s, awesome weather for a bike race. The race started without much delay and the peloton quickly chewed up the miles. It was a pretty straight forward race with a few turns, but mostly long straight aways. I chased down a break and took a couple pulls, but I mostly stayed sheltered in the group. As we neared the final couple of K's, the group really started to ramp up the speed. That's when the Tour de Mont Pleasant quickly degraded to the Tour de Mont Unpleasant and finally, the Tour de Mont Painful.

Sizing up your competition involves not only noting who is strong and a threat so you can keep an eye on them; but also who is squirrely or lacking bike handling skills so that you know who to avoid. A team mate of mine warned me about a certain rider (we'll call him "Blue") about 1/2 way through the race and I noted that he was all over the place. I did a pretty good job of keeping away from him but there he was, about a 1/2 bike length in front of me to my right.

With each 100 meters or so, it seems like we are getting faster. I know we have one more turn to the final straightaway and that I need to hold my spot going into that final turn so I can shoot out of it. This is the only way I'll even get a top ten.

That's when I feel "Blue" bump into my handlebars with his knee/hip. I'm no awesome bike handler but I do know how to handle some bumping and I stay upright with only a slight waver to my front wheel. I gave "Blue" a little shout and I thought we were fine. Then he does it again, but it's much more forceful and I almost loose it. This time, I'm just yelling, "Woah, woah, woah!!" "Blue" veers away from me way too strongly and then overcompensates back towards me and ends up crossing right in front of me and knocking my front wheel to the left and taking it completely out from underneath me.

As my body hits the tarmac, I'm vaguely aware that there may be some riders directly behind me (there were) so I roll onto my right side so that my back is to the riders behind me. One racer slammed into my leg with such force that his tire left a "rug burn from the back of my hamstring all the way down to my calf.

Then it's quiet. I take an assessment. The first pain I notice is my right index finger nail. I'm almost afraid to look at it, it hurt that bad. Through wincing eyes I take a look and it's totally fine, just looks like the nail got bent back. I try to move, everything else seems ok. I get up and notice that my hip and elbow hurt and that my helmet is loosely flopping on my head.

Evidently, my head hit the ground with enough force to rip out all the retention straps in my helmet. Still not sure how it was still on my head. My straps did give me a nice little scrape on the back of my neck...

I locate my bike, which is tangled up in "Blue" (thanks Bob Dylan), and I carry it off the course. I grab another guy's bike and take it off the course as well. Meanwhile, the paramedics arrive and are attending to "Blue" and another guy who's face looked like Carrie after the pigs blood got dumped on her.

I take a quick look at my bike, my chain is off, each wheel is out of true and my handlebars are a good 5-10 degrees off center. I remount my chain and release the brakes so they don't rub on the rims. Then I try to straighten my handlebars but I can't so I just soft pedal the last kilometer across the finish and head to first aid.

My no DNF record still stands! Although I did finish dead last among the finishers in 33rd place.

A special thanks to my team mates Gino and Rodney for helping me out at first aid - you guys made an unpleasant experience just a bit more bearable. Thanks!

Gotta get Kinetic to look at the bike this week to make sure everything is fine... Keep your fingers crossed...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Mavic R-SYS - Strike Two

I'm a big fan of Mavic. I'm also a big fan of carbon. But Mavic's idea of a carbon spoked wheel had me leery from the start. Evidently there was good reason. After Mavic recently recalled the first generation R-SYS due to spoke failure, the second generation was released and promised to be stronger and more durable.

Well, it's strike two for Mavic and the R-SYS. Read all about it at VeloNews.
I updated this link, it was a dead end yesterday. Sorry....

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Awesome Optics

So I finally bit the bullet and updated my riding glasses. My old pair was a pair of Briko's from the early/mid 90's (think Johan Museeuw during his Mapei days) - they've been good to me and the scratches in the lenses are proof that they were well loved, but it's getting harder and harder to see out of them.

What I ended up getting was a pair of Rudy Project Rydon glasses. These things are amazing. Now, I should mention that Rudy Project is a sponsor of mine so you may think I'm just pandering to my sponsor by saying they are great, but if that wasn't my honest impression, I wouldn't be saying anything at all.

The pair I ordered was the Rydon Racing with the white frame and comes with two lenses; laser blue and racing red.

My first outing, I used the racing red, since it was earlier in the AM and the sun wasn't at its full intensity yet. The blue is more for full on sun and the red are for everything else. Switching out the lenses was a little tricky, but once I figured it out, it wasn't too difficult.

The racing red lenses were amazing. It revealed all the details in the road surface while still cutting glare. The frames are so light, you barely notice them. But the most amazing thing I found was, even under really hard efforts on a cool morning, there was minimal fogging while waiting at stop lights... This is the first set of glasses I've had where I could still see after waiting through a stop light. Any fogging that did happen, was limited to the top portion of the lens and dissipated really quickly once I got moving again. Good stuff.

I've only used these glasses once so I can't comment on long term durability or scratch resistance but so far, I'd give these a 10 out of 10.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Team Training

I'm a solo artist. I like solitude. I really enjoy riding alone and I do most of my riding by myself. That said, I've been neglecting some crucial areas of my racing development.

This was made abundantly clear last night when I joined my cycling club for the weekly team training night at a local auto race track. My club rents the track every Tuesday night. I've been meaning to get up there but, I figured I could get just as good a work out on my own. I figured wrong.

The training session was about 2 hours long and consisted of some fast paceline work, a gear-restricted race (39x18) and an all out race (any gear) and then ended with some more paceline work as a cool down.

Here's what I learned in those 2 hours:
  1. I'm terrible at cornering in a group - I loose about 2 bike lengths on the wheel ahead of me each time we enter a turn. My confidence had improved by the end of the session, but this is for sure an area I need to work on.
  2. My pack riding comfort needs help. I've always thought I was a pretty steady rider but I found myself getting nervous. Again, I felt a lot more comfortable by the end of the session, but it's something I'm going to work on.
  3. I'm pretty freaking strong - I finished 4th in both practice races, and this was in the A group...
The thing that's holding me back most is number 1 and 2 listed above. I'm definitely making it a point to go to these training sessions more often - some things can't be learned on your own....