Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bethel Spring Series - The Final Month

I'm starting to stress a bit about Bethel. I know I have things to do, and I've done some of them, but now that we're at the end of January, the list became all that more real. I started typing an email and realized the magnitude of what I have to get done. This is part of that email, modified to make up for post-ride haziness.

(Note: keep in mind I have Wednesdays and Sundays off, at least for the next week and a half, but I otherwise work 8 - 5:30 or so.)

Saturday - Verify new generators on order. Verify power broom order. Reserve some calcium chloride for melting ice at Bethel. Set up easy way to feed cats under work since the owners don't like to crawl under the building like I do. Put out third shelter, put more straw out for them. Pictures.

Order SRM harness (mine is still broken). Possible order 175 Cannondale crankarms and tool to install same from CCC sposnor. Experiment with wheels since I think I'll take the blue AL wheels to CA, not DV46s. Swap pads. Verify chain works with cassette, change cassette if it doesn't. Prepare Titanio saddle for CA since I want to experiment with that. Cinelli tape (still have a bad wrap job on my bars... not good). Ride.

Sunday - uncover van (ice etc), install driver sideview mirror (current one is broken), get van to garage to have service done. Work order: tune up, fix vent and blower, check rear end, potential $1k bill. Also start figuring out what I need to do for CA - I want to be packed next Sunday. Order laptop drive. I hope to do some video editing in CA, and I'd like to have a fresh drive in the laptop (it can hold two). Ride.

Maybe experiment with wireless network, install print drivers onto both laptops. Experiment with finish line camera and laptop. Verify first printer is still working, cartridge is okay (we'll have two printers for Bethel, two laptops, two generators, etc etc).

M-Tu - ride, check equipment. Receive pellet stove at house. Check condo association if we can use another contractor if necessary. Load DV video/s onto current hard drive (I have a number of camcorder tapes to transfer to the computer, with each hour taking 1GB of data, give or take).

Wed - Potential pellet stove install (doubtful). Open CDR, LLC bank account (I went last Wednesday to figure out what I need). Ride.

Th-Fr - Ride. Do more DV to hard drive transfers while riding. Whatever I didn't do from the above list.

Sa - Ride. Laundry for trip. Finishline camera experiment. Bring home 5 gal pails for Bethel sand.

Su - Finish packing clothing bag (one carry on TUMI for both bike gear and regular clothing). Pack bike, the only luggage I'll check. Verify that flight is still okay.

Experiment with standalone wireless network (i.e. no modem, just router, like it will be at Bethel). Two laptops. Potential monitor, keyboard, mouse.

Work on carry on bag - mainly electronics (like helmet cam, camcorder, various chargers, surge protector, cell phone, USB and flash drives), personal spares (glasses), notes, flight info, snacks, wallet, key holder (i.e. trade show badge holder), etc. Put any toiletries in TUMI or bike bag. Usually I can buy whatever I need in CA.

Mon - possibly go to CCC meeting (that's where I'll pick up cranks, maybe). It would be 3+ hours of driving after work and difficult to do, with only one more day before I leave for CA. If team gear has arrived, I'm definitely going since I want to bring some of the new stuff to CA. If no meeting then ride Giant since Cannondale will be packed.

Tu - AM - check flight status. Finalize carry on bag (laptop, its power cord). Ride Giant. Pick up van if not already picked up from garage?

Wed Feb 11 - Fly to CA early AM, arriving at noon. Try to ride before 3 PM local time. Stay warm.

Wed Feb 11 - Wed Feb 25 - Ride like mad, watch some Tour of CA, fiddle with helmet cam, work on Bethel, work on blog, work on project, etc etc. Fly out Feb 25th night.

Feb 26 (Thursday) - arrive back in CT at 10 AM. Unpack bike, start setting up Bethel van (with various equipment necessary for sweep and race). Laundry if necc. Fill all gas cans, propane tanks. Get radios, charge batteries/radios.

Friday - Pack up all equipment necessary for sweep and race, including bike etc. A lot of it is in the garage in front of the Z so I'll have to pull it out to get to stuff. Check new generators, camera, etc. Stay @ family in Wilton. Pick up pre-reg stuff from NY if necessary.

Saturday - Sweep day. Fill 5 gal pails with sand for weight for tent anchors. Easy spin. Stay at Wilton.

Sunday - First race at Bethel.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Training - Baseline

I just climbed off the trainer. I brought down the DVD/VCR combo and started playing a bunch of DVDs I made off of my bike tapes. I've realized just how much of a pain the VCR is, especially since watching a tape basically erodes it just a bit (not to mention that VCRs erode too). Problem was that I recorded the DVDs in such a way that I can't play them in any DVD player except the combo unit.

Hence the combo unit migrated into the bike room. So it's now the Dungeon V The increase in functionality? Being able to watch all my old bike tapes and skip forward through the commercials (they're off of TV).

The DVD player opened up a whole world of available tapes to watch because I've been loath to watch 10 or 15 or 20 year old tapes - they may spontaneously break or jam or do something bad like that, so I pull them out only on special occasions (like making a copy of it). Suddenly I had all these cool tapes from back in the day.

So, properly motivated, with good music cranking from my laptop (through ear buds), I decided to do a 20 minute effort. I started out "easy", 300 watts, my goal for the 20 minutes. With a prior best of 255 watts, I figured I could handle 300, and if I failed and hit only 275, that would be fine.

I exploded after 5 minutes.

So much for "just" 275w. I struggled and pushed and spun and stood and sat and finally, at about 14 minutes, started seeing the possibilty of making it for 20 minutes.

249 watts.

Well, I don't have a season of training behind me. When I did my 255 watts I did. And I did much better than 225w or so, last winter's best 20 minute effort. But part of that low number was because I sat up for a few minutes, soft pedaled, and started up again. I basically did a 10 minute effort and an 8 minute effort, with 2 minutes of easy pedaling in the middle.

With my ego properly deflated, I figured my legs would be fine for a 60 second effort.

35 seconds later I exploded. I stopped pedaling for a good 10 seconds (or pedaled at about 40 watts anyway), then started spinning a bit at 150-170 watts for 10 or 15 seconds. My minute average?

424 watts.

100 watts or so below a race effort. This is more indicative of what I can do in a race, since a race like Bethel (one with a short hill) is a minute on, a minute off.

My average for the ride was a normalized 202 watts. That's about right for me.

So for now, I'm slightly heavy and in average shape.

I hope I can improve dramatically in California.

Time to sleep.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Training - Automatic TLC, or Who Not To Use For Oil

Instead of spinning on the bike, I've been on hold with our heating oil and service company, using two lines, one for service, one for oil.

Why am I calling them?

Because we have virtually no oil in our tank.

A short time after we bought the house, my "low oil" sense got tingly. It's served me well in our last house, and I checked to see if we'd been getting any kind of delivery in the past weeks or month.


We ran out of oil that night.

It was cold.

They came and delivered oil, through a technician that had to be called to bleed the system and such. Nice guy actually, friendly, quick, efficient. He put 10 gallons of fuel in and asked us to hang on until the next morning. He was friendly enough that he negated the cold air, the bad experience, and he made us feel like he cared. And if they have workers like that, the company had to be okay. Right?

We waited the next morning. They finally delivered, carefully, unwilling to risk damage to the steep driveway, dragging a hose up to the fill pipe. The guy was cheerful, friendly.

Not a bad company, right?

Our system was on its way out, we knew that when we bought the house. So we bought a several thousand dollar system through them. They promised us service. They promised us automatic oil delivery. They had nice service personnel. I believed the company. I believed that spending thousands and thousands of dollars would make them put me just a bit higher on the list of "recent big spending clients".

But no.

My "low oil" sense started tingling last week, but due to some bike guy (moi) stacking up a bunch of bike parts boxes in front of the closet door hiding the oil tank, I never made the effort to check. Two nights ago the tingling started jangling. I moved the boxes and saw the red oil level marker sitting at the bottom of its range.

We had virtually no oil.

No automatic delivery obviously. It's been a few months since we received any oil, and we've had some of the coldest weather the area's had in recent history. Lots of snow. Power outages caused by ice. All sorts of cold weather. They claim they calculate our oil needs using a "Computerized 'degree-days' system". Right. They don't bother delivering unless they feel like it.

Yesterday we duly called to request oil, they promised us oil delivery the next morning.

That would be this morning.

This evening we met after work, confident that we had heat for the next few months. We went out for dinner, did some shopping. With a big storm forecast for tomorrow, we wanted to be able to bundle up and weather out the storm without having to go buy basic necessities.

When we got home, we didn't find the oil delivery slip in the door. I went downstairs and checked the tank.


We have a contract with them, and yes, they arrived when they had to, but man, do they suck otherwise.

Am I alone in this experience? I don't think so - some other opinions:
The first complaint
Complaints by the dozen

If you are considering them, I am telling you that I'd look elsewhere. We have a service contract with them, but that won't necessarily stop us from buying oil elsewhere. In fact, that's probably what we'll do - COD oil delivery.

For sure, as soon as our contract runs out, we'll find someone else.

It's frustrating enough that I can't work on a normal post. So now we have three lines calling them, all on hold (the missus joined in).

Chalk up one rest day for today. Tomorrow? Either I'll be wearing tights and a jacket in the basement or I'll be ripping off some 20 minute efforts in shorts and a jersey.

50 minutes and counting.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Racing - Growing the Sport

My post the other day on "growing the sport" came up because our local association, the New England Bicycle Racing Association, has precisely this problem. They want to grow the sport, and they have money with which to grow it. It's just that the path to enlightenment is unclear.

The annual NEBRA - slash - promoter's meeting ended up a long discussion on Junior and Women's racing. Since I couldn't stay longer than the 90 minutes that the Jr/Wm discussion took (I never got to be part of the promoter's meeting), that's all I know about that meeting.

Although initially perturbed by the tangent off the meeting schedule (the Jr/Wm discussion erupted between the financial report and the Board elections, pretty much the first two items on the meeting after attendance), I realized that people had very strong feelings about the whole idea of growing Junior and Women racing. I also heard a lot of good ideas (and some that I would consider less useful).

And it made me think. I had a few hours of driving to think about things so ideas could really percolate. A week or so later things started simmering pretty nicely.

In a follow up comment to my "growing the sport" post/question, I put some solid numbers to the goal of "growing the sport". I just threw one out there, a nice figure, not too complicated. Double the number of racers in 3 or 4 years. Since the sport grows at about 3 or 6% a year, increasing it to 30 or 40% a year would be significant.

As someone pointed out, the largest segment in USAC membership is in the Masters ranks. And as someone else pointed out, that part of the population is the part that normally have kids. And if the parents (or, rather, fathers) aren't getting their kids into racing, who will?

Let's skip the motivation to race for a second. It's important, critical even, but I'll address that in a moment. Let's look at obstacles to racing. A few come to mind right away.

Obstacles to Bicycle Racing

First, the cost of equipment. Not just the bike (everyone focuses on the cost of a bike), but look at all the gear you need. Pedals (not part of a bike, not really anyway), shoes, shorts, jerseys, helmets, gloves. Now consider you're racing as part of a school (high school or college). This means winter and spring, and this means even more gear - tights, jackets, booties, warm gloves, head gear.

Oh, right, and entry fees.

Second, training time. As a cyclist a student receives no recognition for the amount of time and effort needed to train. It's easy to say to your mom, "Hey, I need to go to swim practice!", because it's official, there's a schedule, and a lot of other people show up. But when your kid tells you, "I need to do 2 hours today, be back at dinner!", you, as a parent, really don't know what's happening. No coach, no chaperone, not even the security of knowing exactly where your kid is riding.

Third, legal aspects and getting to races, especially for Juniors. I lump them together because Juniors cannot sign waivers alone. They must have a guardian sign for them. Back in the day, when I wasn't 18 yet, I'd get a teammate to sign my waiver, but I think that such things wouldn't fly nowadays. Likewise, a kid under 18 would have a hard time getting to races. Borrow dad's car for a whole day? Getting to races is tough because most Junior races are early in the schedule, with Masters (if Dad races) later in the day. The few hour gap between races kills a whole day unless, of course, it's used as bonding time between parents and kid.

Fourth, safety in training. A racer and a dad said that he felt unsafe allowing his kid to train on town roads. I suppose I understand that at some level - riding around in, say, the heart of Hartford would be no fun, no matter how much you may like riding in traffic. Other cities are better, but from a safety point of view, even such bucolic areas as Canton and Barkhamsted have their share of bike fatalities. Fine, in one case an underage kid mowed down two riders, and it ends up the kid was so drunk he didn't know he hit anything - not the two cyclists, not the 50 feet of barrier, nothing. But still, you get the point. A lot of parents don't want their kids out there riding their bikes around.

Fifth, there is a distinct lack of information out there on how to start racing a bike, or how the whole process works. A good friend of mine saw the Tour of TV back in high school, a novelty back then, and felt thrilled and fascinated by the whole spectacle. After the show ended... he didn't know what to do. He went to school the next day and everyone was talking about stuff like football and track and swimming and everything except cycling. I heard a lot of talk about "I have a great program" or "I have all the information" or "I've been doing it for years", so the information is out there. But I heard very little about where such information is available to anyone and everyone.

Everyone says Junior racing is important. Why so? I think the importance of Junior racing is a bit overplayed, at least in its present form. With a wide disparity in ability and small fields, a Junior race is about the hardest race you can enter. Single file, Cat 1s and 2s at the front, going ballistic until everyone is about to fall over from oxygen debt. Toss a Cat 5 in a Cat 1-2 race with a 15 rider field limit and you can imagine just how long that poor 5 will last. It doesn't matter how old you are - a Cat 5 or 4 simply doesn't belong in a Cat 1-2 race.

I experienced this phenomenon personally for three years. There'd be some hotshot junior killing the field, and we all prayed that he'd go to the OTC (Olympic Training Center) to give us some respite. Every time the current hotshot got snapped up by the National team, another kid would show up and kill us all over again. This way I had the privilege to get hammered on by George (Hincapie), Frank and Mark (McCormack), and by a host of kids that you probably never heard of, like Pat Morrisey or Rob Lattanzi.

So is Junior racing important?

Only if the Junior learns about racing. That means riding in a field, tactics, working together, not working together, moving up in a field, drifting back in the field, stuff like that. And you don't learn about racing by getting dropped 2 laps into a 20 lap race. Junior races are more like time trials. Naturally, with such events, the talent bubbles to the top - the Georges, the Franks, they would do the Junior race to warm up, then they'd do the Cat 1-2 race to win. Why didn't they do the pro races? Well, back then being a pro was illegal - yep, if you were a pro, you couldn't do USCF races.

But, really, Junior racing is more about raising kids to live in a respectable and dignified way. It's important to coaches, maybe, for discovering new talent, but that seems like less of a reason to focus on Junior racing. It's nice to say "Oh, Hincapie grew up racing around here" but it doesn't mean anything in the grand scheme of things. And, yes, it's important to raise kids in a respectable and dignified way, but I can't say I'm embarking on a nationwide program to teach kids that you reap what you sow, and sometimes not even that.

So what is important?

What's more important is to get folks into the sport who feel connected to it in some way, the ones that find themselves inexplicably drawn to bike racing. They're the folks that race no matter what, train, teach, promote, officiate, and volunteer to do things like marshal a turn or coach a team. Age isn't that important - the media made a lot of to-do about that "older" woman at the last Olympics. Guys like Mike Engleman got into the sport about when the regulars were retiring, so it's possible to find talent older than, say, 18 years old.

Passion, though, is key.

If you get kids into a sport, they may enjoy it for the structure, the discipline, the camaraderie, but take away those ancillaries and their desire to participate diminishes. Look at those Juniors that rode so well, so much, for a few years, then disappear from view. I look at pictures of the good Juniors in the fields when I was a Junior and hardly any of them are around now.

What's important is growing the sport, making it bigger, making it a lifelong sport, making it something that's big enough to permeate the hallways of the high schools.

I have a few ideas that could help address all these various things. All have their obstacles and I'm sure some will disagree vehemently with what I propose, but if we can implement even a little of the following, it can make a big difference.

1. Juniors

A - Make cycling a scholastic sport. In Connecticut, according to a local shop run by a retired teacher, it takes seven (7) high schools to request a cycling league to make it a state-supported sport. The last time someone (said retired teacher) sent out letters regarding cycling, only four schools responded affirmatively (and two of the hits came from the sender and a school where one of his students now teaches).
B - Use running tracks or other fields as venues. Virtually all high schools have a running track, a football field, and/or a cross country trail. High school driveways and such work too, but I haven't done any surveys of high school driveways so I can't say for sure.
C - Mandate maximum gear costs and specifications. Helmets, gear, etc. This can be helped by equipment sponsors and such. This means that you can't use a top-line Giro in a high school race, but you can use any $50 helmet.
D - Mandate a high minimum bike weight, perhaps 20-22 pounds. This would make the bike reasonably competitive in USAC competition, readily so with a simple wheel swap, but allow students to use older, obsolete race bikes (not that the bike makes all the difference). Perhaps limit gearing, like the Little 500 (the race in Breaking Away), to limit gearing disparities. A freshman won't have the power of a senior, at least not normally, but aerobically will be closer in ability.
E - Link high schools with local USAC or collegiate teams. Cross polinate. The local club gets Juniors. The club, in return, provides some adult supervision, coaching, and event insurance (through USAC).
F - Draw in sponsors to help provide equipment to racers, perhaps on a website. Have an authorized, login-required website for schools to purchase equipment. Tax ID and all that stuff would be necessary. Equipment can be surplus or off-year product so it would be a good venue for manufacturers to clear out unsold equipment.
G - Have said site detail the basic process for getting into bike racing. Equipment, gear, license, entry, races, etc.

2. Collegiate

A - Link collegiate and USAC licenses so they're not quite so separate. This way it's clear that a collegiate racer can enter USAC races.
B - Draw collegiate racers in to local clubs. Those clubs will need to emphasize teamwork and camraderie much more than normal because, as a collegiate racer pointed out, collegiate racing really emphasizes that stuff. It emphasizes individuals much less.
C - Encourage promoters to have team oriented prizes and awards. This will help foster the team spirit that collegiate racers find lacking in regular USAC races and therefore help retain collegiate racers.
D - Have a similar site to the high school site to draw in sponsors and provide equipment.
E - Just like Juniors, have said site detail the basic process for getting into bike racing. Equipment, gear, license, entry, races, etc.

3. Women

A - Need to get into the mainstream fitness magazines and online. Articles on racing etc. Cross promote with running races, tri- and dualthlons.
B - Encourage promoters to have separate women's races. Categorize if possible. The big issue is field size, or lack thereof. Emphasize entry level (Cat 3-4) women's races since that's where 80% of the racers sit.
C - Season long points series, especially for the Cat 3-4 women. Encourage steady participation instead of peaky participation.
D - Possible entry fee rebates from higher up organizations for steady participation, i.e. you must do 10 races to qualify for the first rebate.
E - Ditto on site. Sponsors (maybe "pay on the site, pick up at the shop"), info, etc. Women specific information.

4. General

A - Emphasize races which are beginner-friendly. Such races would be ones like time trials, allow lapped riders to stay in, long courses which don't force riders off who get dropped, etc.
B - Reward consistent participation, more so than winning.
C - USAC specific blow out product sites, similar to chainlove or other close out, super deal sites. A percentage of sales would be put into USAC's "grow bike racing" budget.
D - Share information. Don't hoard it unless it's a published, costs-money kind of thing. If it's advice dispensed freely, then freely dispense that advice. Use websites, maybe USAC could have a portion of their site devoted to uploading advice and such.

Things I don't think will help that much:

1. Free entries for whoever (Juniors, women, etc), at least those which are under $15-20. Although I'm sure everyone appreciates the gesture, bike racing is much more than just entry fees. Having spent $2000 or more to get into the sport, $20-50 in gas, food, bars, drink mixes, etc etc, getting $10 off of entry seems a bit ludicrous. However, perhaps USAC or NEBRA could implement a rebate policy - up to $10 rebate per race for Juniors, not to exceed the cost of actual entry. Seriously, though, the gas to get to a race will cost more, so I think this would end up nickeling and diming down the sponsorship budget significantly.

2. Giving product to Juniors. Sure, money is tight, and I've heard of some crazy things Juniors do to save money, but as I say, "Hey, they're Juniors". Learn to suffer, learn to make do. And don't make fun of them. Look, if you couldn't buy winter gloves, what would you do? So riding with garden gloves, sweatpants instead of tights, duct tape booties, that's all okay. Maybe a Senior (18+) rider will take pity and give the shivering Junior some booties or something. That's how I got my first set of booties - did a few weeks of group rides in sub freezing temperatures with only socks and shoes (albeit the thickest socks I had). One guy, after listening to how I liked when my feet started getting waves of pain as they thawed out 10 or 20 minutes after I got home, showed up with booties that cost 10 times as much as my toe clips and gave them to me.

Having said that, in the past Carpe Diem Promotions has given individuals money to help pay for racing expenses. And although this helped a few riders, and it makes me proud to think we could do that, I think that spending that time and money on organizations focused on development would be more efficient. Instead of a few hundred dollars to one rider, the money could be used to hold a clinic that benefits 10 or 20 riders. CDP has also given thousands of dollars to programs specifically geared towards growing Junior and Women's cycling, and I think that was a much better use of the money.

Most of these ideas percolated to the top of the pile recently. I'm not the contact point for money and (perhaps unfortunately) I didn't feel like trying for one of the NEBRA Board positions, but I really think that getting a plan in place is important. Then the powers that be can focus on accomplishing the plan goals/tasks, revising them as necessary, and therefore grow and hone a system that regularly feeds new racers into the system.

Unlike many of my posts, this one hasn't percolated in my Drafts section for months or years (yes, I have some posts started in 2006 that I have yet to publish), so it's by no means complete. But I think I have most of the important stuff in here.

Questions? Feedback? Contrary opinions?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Racing - What Would YOU Do To Improve Racing?

Say I had a lot of money to pitch into the bike racing scene. How would you use it? Your goals can vary, but the basic one is to grow the sport. Cycling is not broadcast on prime time in this country, but it is in others. How would you make it so that the powers-that-be would find it worthwhile to broadcast the Tour live on one of the major networks?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

- Recruit racers from the collegiate scene.
- Have some kind of program to encourage Juniors and Women to race.
- Clinics to teach new racers how to race.
- More weekday training races.
- More National level races in the area, including the National Championships.
- Build an indoor velodrome.
- Build bike-only trails.
- Build permanent training race venues.

Think of specifics. If you want to recruit some of the collegiate racers in the area, think about what draws them into the sport. What graduating from school does to their life. What appeals to the student about the sport? For Juniors, why would they want to race? Ditto women.

Although I pose this question hypothetically, the reality is that there is some money out there. It's to be spent to grow bike racing.

Unfortunately, the money's just been accumulating for years because, get this...


To make sure there's no misunderstanding, I don't know what to do with it either, at least not in a concrete way.

But maybe if we do the Wiki thing to attack this problem, we can find some potential uses for the money together. Spread the word and let's get some ideas together.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Training - Post Cramp Ride

Two things.

First, my post-cramp trainer spin lasted about 1:15 more than I thought it would. I felt fine. I climbed off after 1:45 on the bike. This morning I couldn't put a lot of weight on my right leg. By midday it was just sore. Now it's fine.

Second, I was in such a haze when I started thinking about 175s that I forgot a critical thing - Cannondale SI SRMs are modular. The crankarms are separate from the SRM bit (the spider). I just need to buy new arms. Yay for modular.

Anyone have any 175 Cannondale SI crank arms?

Bethel Spring Series - The Actual Actual Entry Fee Costs

Okay, here's the short of it. I severely overestimated how much money CDP has in its account. Therefore I have to change how the fees work. Fortunately this makes things more simple.

Pre-reg fees stay the same from 2008 -> 2009 due to CDP sponsorship. CDP will sponsor pre-reg racers only, to the tune of $2 per race entry. The 2009 fees of $16/race will be reduced to the 2008 fee of $14 (i.e. $13 plus $1 additional insurance). Likewise the 2009 "second race in a day" fee of $13 will be reduced to the 2008 second race fee of $11.

Series pre-reg (i.e. for all weeks) will get you a further discount.

All pre-reg entry fees are refundable (minus any fees like BikeReg etc) if the race is canceled by the promoter, if you let me know BEFORE race day that you are not racing, or in extenuating circumstances which I will deal with individually. I am trying to make it easy to pre-reg for the races.

Day of race will add $4 to the 2009 first race fee. The "second race of the day" fee is not penalized. Therefore day of race entry fees will be $20 for the first race, $13 for the second.

Again, there is no sponsorship on day of race entries, so those fees are what you pay.

Is that clearer?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Training - Trainer Ride Thoughts

I can't stop pedaling.


But I know it's getting late and I have to get upstairs. I'm about an hour overdue on my ride, maybe more than that, and, well, I'm feeling good.

So I keep pedaling.

A couple days ago I cleared out the garage so that the missus could park her car in her spot. Two overflow items were the bike work bench (which has history that deserves a separate post) and the carbon Giant.

In case you forgot, the Giant looks something like this.

Minus the Powertap. The tires. Wheels. Upside down Coke bottle.

But otherwise it's about the same. And that includes the 175 mm cranks.

It took a couple days for me to move the bike out of the front entry way (the bench is still there). The bike move occurred, oh, about three hours ago. Add a bit of time to set up the bike on the trainer, set up the music on the laptop, load up a DVD, wipe up some spilled water, and change into bike clothes, put me on the bike, and you have...

Me. Now. Over three hours later.

The bike fits the same as the Cannondale, other than the cranks and the seat. The Giant has that Titanio 2000 pictured in the previous link, the Cannondale has the Arione. Same bars, same levers.

The Giant is old school though, relatively speaking. Box section 32H wheels. Lots of post showing due to a seat tube that's about 6 cm shorter. A bit of a higher bar position because of a taller head tube. And I can see more when I look down because the tubes are thinner.

There's something... enchanting, I guess, about riding a bike like the Giant, the skinny tube bike. I feel like I own the bike. I control it in every way. I like the spindly look of the bars, the lack of the monster head tube, the slim top tube. It's the difference between riding with gloves and riding bare handed. You feel more of the bike, you become closer to it.

And, of course, the Giant has the cranks. Technically they're not better than the Cannondale SI cranks. Smaller bottom bracket, flexy and heavy spindle, inefficient solid arms (when was the last time you saw a solid fork or a solid frame?).

Still, the cranks have their beauty. Campy Record, cold forged, beautiful chainrings. And a beautiful, powerful 175 mm between the BB spindle center and the pedal axle center.

The latter is what got me.

I'm on the same trainer, with the same resistance unit. I've used this trainer for something like, what, four years? I know it well. I know what gears I use when I'm tired, when I don't want to spin. I use other gears when I want to work on my pedaling without killing my legs. I have my "zone out" gears, the gears I inevitably end up riding when I'm watching virtually anything on the TV. And finally I have those gears for the "chasing down a break" fantasy bursts.

Tonight, within a few minutes of clipping into the pedals, those gears went up a notch.

What happened?

Did I get better? Did I suddenly gain a lot of 5 minute power? I can't tell you because the Giant has no power. It doesn't have a cyclocomputer, and I don't have my HRM on, so I can't tell you such basic things as heart rate or even cadence.

But when I push hard, I don't explode. I can keep pushing. I felt twinges of cramp after an hour, but I figured that was because of the longer cranks. I eased on the cadence, pushed the resistance, and the cramps went away.

I started thinking about, maybe, bringing the Giant to California. Use the longer cranks. Or getting some (non-SRM) cranks for the Cannondale. I don't know. I feel so good on the 175s, they feel... familiar. Like I'm home. The 170s always felt a bit hyper, a little foreign, a little like cruising at 5k rpm in your car instead of at 2k rpm.

Food for thought.

After two hours my legs started randomly twinging, a somewhat normal sign. I could still make efforts, but my legs couldn't back up my will, and I'd explode 30 seconds into an effort. Anaerobic, obviously, but when I kicked it off I didn't think it was hard.

Was that the crank effect?

I don't know.

I started thinking of Bethel. Who will work the race. Who will cover when I race. I will be able to race, right? I hope so. Sweeping. Generators. Van. Ice melter. Why didn't I change the Masters to 45+? Or the 5s to an age separated set of fields? Finish line camera tests. Network tests. Spreadsheet lookup queries in the open source OpenOffice Calc as opposed to using Microsoft Excel. Database of riders?

Now, after three hours, my quads twinge regularly. My thoughts of a four hour ride disappate. And I climb off the bike.

I'm almost at the end of my MP3 list. I paid close attention to The Pixies. To my brothers' bands, URT, Marshall Artist, Shovel Full of Dirt, and Tunnel of Love. I'm on the Us now, Urge Overkill. My Sidis are off, my long sleeve jersey shed, and all of my distractions - the two fans, the TV, the DVD player - are all off.

Time to go to sleep.

Bethel Spring Series - Actual Race Entry Costs

Okay. Because the 2008 entity Carpe Diem Promotions (CDP) is sponsoring racers in the 2009 Carpe Diem Racing (CDR) Bethel Series, there will be an entry fee published which will probably be higher than what the actual racer will pay.

Previously, I tried to explain the situation, but I didn't have solid numbers available. I have the numbers now, and I'll explain what they are and how we got to them.

First of all, let's look at last year's entry costs:

2008 Entry Fees for Bethel Spring Series:
Pre-reg, Series, one race: $72 ($12/race)
Pre-reg, Series, two races: $132 ($12/race, $10/race)
Pre-reg, one race: $13
Pre-reg, second race on a day: $11
Day of race reg, one race: $17
Day of race reg, second race on a day: $11 (same as pre-reg for a second race)

For 2009 we will change effective prices by either $1 or $2. For pre-reg we will only increase the entry fee to reflect the additional $1 insurance cost (through USA Cycling).

In addition we will increase effective day of race entries by $1. This is to encourage pre-reg entries, which cost much less anyway and save the promoters a lot of time and energy. If you pay by check by mail (which we accept), you won't have to pay any online fees, just 42 cents for postage and whatever it costs to print out entries and buy a check.

Note: If you do the snail mail method you MUST fill out a separate waiver for each week, and fill it out completely and legibly.

Let's look at how the fee schedule would look with these changes in place, the $1 insurance increase and the $1 day of race fee increase.

2009 Effective Fee Schedule, Bethel Spring Series:
Pre-reg, Series, one race: $78 ($13/race)
Pre-reg, Series, two races: $138 ($13/race, $10/race)
Pre-reg, one race: $14
Pre-reg, second race in a day: $11 (no insurance necessary, therefore no increase)
Day of race reg, one race: $19
Day of race reg, second race: $12 (+ $1 for day of race)

Now the tricky part - the Carpe Diem Promotions sponsorship. Carpe Diem Promotions (CDP), from 2008, is sponsoring the racers in the races held by Carpe Diem Racing (CDR) in 2009.

That's important so I'll repeat it again.

CDP is sponsoring racers in the 2009 CDR Bethel Spring Series.

CDP will pay a portion of every entry fee it can, until it runs out of money. To do this, two things have to happen:
1. CDP will cover a portion of the entry fee for each racer.
2. Once CDP's funds run out, the full entry fee must be charged. This is a legal requirement, else we'll be committing fraud or something like that.

Since we do NOT want to charge more for the entry, we tried to guess about how many racers will enter, i.e. how many entry fees CDP will need to cover. This was the tricky part. Then we divide the amount of money available by the number of race entries we hope to have.

Based on last year's numbers, we're figuring on some number north of 1000 actual race entries.

We have two goals with the CDP sponsorship.
1. Use up all the money.
2. Try not to use up the money too early (else racers have to pay more).

If CDP sponsored $10 per entry, it'd run out of money pretty quickly, perhaps after as little as 2 weeks. Since we can't revert to the cheaper fees, this would mean everyone would have to pay $10 more per entry after the first two weeks. That is not good.

After doing a lot of complex math (infinite analysis and the like), we've decided that CDP can pay $2 for each pre-registered entry and $3 for each day of race entry. This should cover everyone until the last week, when, at some point, folks may need to cough up an extra $3 to enter a race.

The effective fees, what we think you should pay, are listed above. To get the actual official fees (the full, legal fee), we have to add $2 to the pre-reg and $3 to day-of-race reg fees. Remember that CDP is paying for a portion of the entry fees listed below.

FULL 2009 Bethel Spring Series Fee Schedule:
Pre-reg, Series, one race: $90 ($13+$2/race)
Pre-reg, Series, two races: $162 ($13+$2/race, $10+$2/race)
Pre-reg, one race: $16 ($14+$2)
Pre-reg, second race in a day: $13 ($11+$2)
Day of race reg, one race: $22 ($19 + $3)
Day of race reg, second race: $15 ($12 + $3)

The "+$2" or "+$3" reflect the CDP share. Until CDP money runs out, you'll be paying the Effective fee schedule, the second fee schedule on this page.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bethel Spring Series - Race and Registration Links

We have permits!

Ronde de Bethel, 2009-295
Ris Van Bethel, 2009-296
Tour de Kirche, 2009-297
Bethel CDP Gold Race, 2009-298
Criterium de Bethel, 2009-299
Circuit de Francis J Clarke, 2009-300

On the last one the name is wrong but the date is right, so we'll have to fix that.

I didn't see the updates on BikeReg Saturday morning but now it's all there.

March 1, Ronde de Bethel
March 8, Ris Van Bethel
March 22, Bethel CDP Gold Race
March 29, Criterium de Bethel
April 5, Circuit de Francis J Clarke

Hm, March 15th is missing, I'll have to look into that.

Okay, I searched for it, and it's here.

March 15, Tour de Kirche

On NEBRA's site, the races are listed in... hm, I only get a generic site holding page. Okay, it was there the other day, now it's not really there. But they were there, in March and April. Really.

The site. Gotta update the site.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bethel Spring Series - Permits Pending, Two Returning Sponsors

So today, in between trying to stay warm while working at a half-indoors half-outdoors place in 10 or 15 degree weather, I got a few somewhat urgent calls from the allegedly former co-promoter of the Bethel Spring Series. I say "allegedly" because today he filed permits for the Bethel races and took care of some paperwork type stuff. This is stuff that only current co-promoters do, not former ones.

Technically, though, he's backing away from the whole promoting thing. So at some point I'll have to figure this stuff out.

Part of the urgency stemmed from the fact that USAC charges a late fee for permits filed less than six weeks before a race, and with the first race of the year on March 1... Let's put it this way. Right now it's exactly 6 weeks and 1 day before Bethel.


Suffice it to say that the permits appear to be there, with one day to spare. Part of the reason? The help of USA Cycling (or USAC, or, like USADA is "YouSahdah", "YouSack").

Yesterday I spoke with the Northeast Coordinator at USAC's home base in CO, Susan Diller. I figured by now she'd be stressed out with various clubs renewing their memberships last minute (like, um, Carpe Diem Racing did) and then calling to ask, oh, say about 15 minutes after faxing the renewal paperwork if the club can now file permits (like, ahem, Carpe Diem Racing's officer might have done). Surprisingly she came across as an enthusiastic, energetic, not-at-all-stressed person, and the call ended up a pleasant one. The best part? She had the renewal form in hand, and a short time later an email popped up telling me that Carpe Diem Racing was a current 2009 club.

Woo hoo!

A quick forward to the previously mentioned former co-promoter led to me adding said former co-promoter as a current co-promoter to the club member list (else he wouldn't have the ability to do things like file a permit), then he did his thing.

I hauled grain, filled propane tanks, and started a PO (EDI no less, a type of data message I supported back in the IT days).

Then I got an email saying the permits were done.

Well now.

Two more things to proclaim. Well, two things, one at a time. I've confirmed our first two sponsors for 2009.

The first is Verge Sports. They'll be providing the very nice leader's jerseys for 2009. I have some proofs but nothing pretty to look at (they resemble jerseys that exploded into unsewn pieces), but basically they'll follow the 2008 design. Bright yellow, '09 imprinted, excellent for framing and hanging on the wall.

(Note: 2008 overall winners are not required to wear their Leader's Jerseys on the first day at Bethel.)

Verge have been supporters of the race series for a long time, both personally and as a company. Some of their people have raced and won at Bethel from the beginning, driving over after working a crazy third shift a couple hours away, sleeping in their car until they needed to warm up, and then winning races with apparent ease.

They supported me even when I went away from their jerseys for a few years. In fact, when I did that, the Verge folks didn't hold it against me. They showed up with their team (even sweeping for a full day), did races, and tried to help out however they could.

I should point out that a quiet conversation with one of their people prompted me to seriously consider moving to a fixed time schedule (i.e. races start at a given time, not whenever the previous race ended). I admit that this change has garnered some very positive feedback, and it's made my life as a promoter much easier.

If you snipe your start times like I do (arrive just in time to warm up etc), or even if you just schedule your days like a normal human being, then you can thank Verge for a big part of that at Bethel.

Thanks Verge!

The second sponsor is Bethel Cycle. They give the overall winners very nice gift certificates to their store. Since many racers travel to get to Bethel, Bethel Cycle's virtual store is a great way to use that certificate.

The owner Greg is a tremendous supporter of the sport in the area (holding things like the New Year Day Ride) and they've been supporting the Bethel Spring Series since the beginning. Their team has made their hometown race a season start goal, and their numerous wins and places illustrates that vividly. Their riders regularly help out at the races, sweeping, marshaling, and helping with setting up and breaking down.

Thanks Greg (and all the team too)!

I should take this time to thank the alleged former co-promoter for his work already. He's the one that's been pushing me the hardest to get things done. He's also kept an eye out on the finances over the years, and only now have I realized just how well he does that.

Thanks Gene!

Finally, as part of the 2009 Series, I'll be revamping the full site. You can get a hint of it here, but I want to publish it so it is hosted at Tonight I hope to figure out how to do that. For now though I've been fiddling on that new site, sort of as a "rough draft".

Six weeks to go. Doesn't seem possible, at least not around here. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention - it's supposed to snow three to six inches tonight.


I gotta go ride.

Training - Dungeon

Okay, so my ideas for Dungeon 2.0 (technically it should be, where it's Version.Functionality.SubFunctionality.Fixes) ended up short lived. After many discussions about the possibilities of moving the Dungeon to the "end" of the basement, we decided that moving it would make sense to move the Dungeon from the beginning of the maze to the end. See, the basement is finished in such a way that you wander through the various sections, rather than entering different rooms from a central hallway. With the Dungeon at the end (i.e. version 3.0), all the associated mess would be out of sight, rather than spilling over into the bottom of the stairway in the basement (as was the case with version 2.0).

So, once again, I started moving various bits and pieces of what was to be Dungeon 2.0 enhancements. With a fresh slate (in 3.0) I could affix things to the walls that I'd have had a hard time doing in 2.0. I took advantage of this third chance to get things set up, chances I'd previously let expire.

First down were the floor mats. Doing this after the fact was a real pain, so I've learned that I should put that stuff down first. It helps that I bought a lot of it, for the now unused gym, so I have about two rooms worth of mats. I could start setting things up before I moved anything over.

Second up was a shelf for my AV (audio visual) entertainment center. Cue picture of AV center:

AV center. Second laptop (mainly for MP3s) on top of DVD player on top of VCR, all next to TV. Note gram scale below VCR. Two fans too, the pedestal white one and the industrial floor one.

My dead mini-DVD player got relegated to the dump heap while my new DVD player got a prominent spot. I also hooked up an old fashioned VCR, and ultimately I'd like to set up the laptop to play through the TV. The requires just one cable but I've been too lazy to get it from the second bike room.

Right, the second bike room.

Late in 2008 we had a new furnace installed, along with a new water tank (for hot water), in an unfinished portion of the basement. Said room has enough space for, say, a workbench and a bike stand, plus a few shelves (and a currently unused double wide closet). The new furnace ended up tying up space that we'd planned for storage, so the room became that much less usable for storing things. Plus it's somewhat pertinent that most of the "stored" stuff was bike stuff. Since Dungeon 3.0 is smaller than 2.0, the furnace room got included in the equation to sweeten the deal. I'll be transforming that to a bike workshop slash bike storage area.

Anyway, back to 3.0...

The third task was to mount all the various precious posters I have into some nice blow-out frames I got at Michaels - 40% to 50% off, plus another 15% off at the register. I still spent a couple hundred dollars on frames so you know I got a lot of them. I took along a printout of my "poster inventory", a task I accomplished shortly after Interbike, and the missus and I roamed the aisles, finding the best frame sizes and stacking the selected frames on a cart.

Note I mention the poster inventory list? See, planning ahead works. It's just a matter of when it's done. Three months isn't too bad to get something done.

(On a side note, the missus found a task list I'd made during the summer. Incredibly all the items were done, but when I made the list I wasn't sure I'd get more than one or two things accomplished. It's encouraging to realize that I actually got things done.)

Part of the poster task was to figure out where the studs are so I can hang, say, Eddy's signature without the risk of it landing on my head in the middle of an interval on the trainer. For this I'd bought a magnetic stud finder, a much more "old school" way of finding a stud as opposed to the expensive electronic one I have (and which guides me precisely to spots that have no studs).

This magnetic stud finder purchase - another planning-ahead move that came to fruition.

The final tasks include actually putting the mounted posters onto the wall (I have picture hanging wire and hooks for this), moving in the spin bike, setting up a shelf for storage in the storage room, bringing in the bike workbench (and vise) from the cold garage, and hanging some extra lighting in both rooms. The posters are up, at least some of them, but I have yet to do the other tasks. At least it'll give me the "Dungeon" post - more functionality, more features.

Merckx's poster, among other things. No flash so a bit blurry.

The fingerprints aren't obvious until you use a flash. Note bike, trainer, rollers, pump, TV. The bins are full of clothing, at least a couple of them. I also have a large box, my gear bag, and a small box of clothing in the background.

Old school cool and Rock Racing. I gotta straighten out the frames. I have more pictures to hang but I want to wait until I have more of the room in order. Rebecca Twigg's frame didn't make it in yet, so she's hanging in the hallway for now.

I brought the workbench (the one with the stories) downstairs tonight, but I have to set up the vise (it's still in the garage) and tool board. Plus the second bike room is a mess right now so I have to organize that too.

For now though the room I've always envisioned is starting to take form. Another year or three and it might be close to done. In the meantime, I'm really jonesing to get on the bike.

Be back in a bit...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Training - Basic Program

Dave Brinton was a top track racer back in the day. Now he's a coach and runs a training program company Technik Sports, Inc. He had a feature appear in the LA Times recently, with syndication reaching out to the Hartford Courant.

The article in the Hartford Courant.

Although perhaps redundant to those folks who have been doing this for a while, it's a nice way of introducing a new cyclist to the sport. Some of the recommendations are a bit specific, like finding a "4-6%" climb for Sundays. But overall it's a sensible way of getting on the bike.

Recently I heard discussion about getting new riders into the sport. Although there were lots of ideas on how to lure new riders into cycling, the most important part of getting new riders into the sport is to find people enthusiastic about the sport. This program gives such riders something they can grasp, something to get them started.

And that's what's important.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Promoting - Some Progress

A little restless tonight, not sure why. Maybe it's the upcoming cold weather (expected low for one of the upcoming nights is -4 degrees F. It doesn't sound too impressive until you think of it as being 36 degrees below freezing. Or, to put a different delta on it, it's the same drop in temperature that you experience from riding in a balmy 68 degrees to riding at freezing.

Okay, enough, it's making me antsy just thinking about it.

Maybe my restlessness stems from my severe decrease in my confidence in my smooth pedaling after watching that rollers clip. I will ride rollers tomorrow and more often in the next week, determined to regain some semblance of a smooth pedal stroke. Perhaps it's the fact that I started mapping out routes in California, and then lost my map after I'd gotten 109 miles into one route (the key on gmap-pedometer - save often!). Or that I have only four weeks to magically discover some legs so that when I get to California I don't piddle around all day in a 39x25.

Maybe it was the fact that Bella, Tiger, and Mike all wanted to cuddle up on the bed, up by the humans.

Or, perhaps, it's the upcoming Bethel Spring Series.

Whatever, this "awaked-ness" gives me an excuse to type away at the keyboard a bit.

I read somewhere that people naturally wait to get things done. It's called procrastination, and I'm a champion of the habit. I think part of the problem is that I believe a lot of what I read, and I once read that folks wait until half the allotted time for a task elapses before starting said task. This means, for example, that if I have a paper due in two months, I won't start any kind of significant work on it for a month.

I wish I hadn't read that in school, since I pretty much halved the allotted time by telling myself, "Hey, look, it's only natural you wait a month to start the paper." Then after a month, I figure I have a month until it's due. So I start it 2 weeks later, then wonder why I'm scrambling the night before the due date.

Anyway, I mention this because I have a lot of due dates approaching (and no, it has nothing to do with kids).

A major one is the Bethel Spring Series, with the first race date tentatively scheduled for March 1, 2009. I say tentative because until we file the permits, we can't say we're actually holding a race - that would be 'advertising' the race, and that's not allowed until we have the permit in hand.

Permits need to be filed six weeks or more before a race. Otherwise you end up paying substantial "late/rush" fees, hundreds of dollars in the case of a series of six races.

Naturally this creates its own deadline, that of about, well, a few days, where the permits must be filed. Otherwise the money meter starts running in earnest.

To file a permit, you need a few things. Town permission helps a great deal. Thankfully I only waited until November to request this, and they approved the dates in December. Race names and categories help too. Since I'm pressed for time, and more specifically, my friend who is doing all the filing is also pressed for time, we're sticking with the current format, categories, etc.

One of the important blanks you fill in when filing a permit is the bit where you name the promoter.

This has a lot of legal implications. If someone decides to sue the race, they sue the promoter. If someone wants to pay a race fee, they pay the promoter. If I accept race entry money as an individual, I essentially become "the promoter". And as such I stand to get sued if anything weird happens in the race.

Therefore it's best not to be an individual. A much better entity would be a corporation of some type. In Connecticut you can form a very small company that has limited liability, called, appropriately, a limited liability corporation (LLC).

I didn't have an LLC.

So, today, I finalized the filing papers to create such an entity. And since I did a bunch of homework, I knew the paperwork should go smoothly.

Which means that my friend can file the paperwork.

Which means the races can be permitted.

Which means that...

The Bethel Spring Series will be on.

I feel a bit better.

Maybe I'll do some crunches now.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Training - New Years Day Ride (Sort Of)

Actually, it was Jan 4th, due to snow and stuff. This worked out for me since I was in no shape to ride on Jan 1, but by the 4th my double secret training had made it possible for me to do a 50 mile ride with no problem.

Okay, I'm fibbing.

I was just really tired on Jan 1. And I didn't quite make the whole ride, not with the group anyway.

Whatever. I did do the ride from Bethel Cycle in Bethel, CT.

I met up with Hob and SOC prior to the ride, and we did several hours of riding to get to the start of the ride. Or maybe it was several minutes, I don't know.

You can see from the pictures from the first link above that it was relatively cold. I think the high for the day was 33 degrees F, which, in the scheme of things, is not too bad. The turnout was pretty good, all considering. The folks at the shop (including me) waited for the hardcore flahutes to ride in from Exit 14 off of 82 (another dozen miles or so away). When they rolled up, we rolled out.

Since I didn't have a Connecticut Coast Cycling (CCC) jacket, I wore a generic Nalini thing which has served me well for many years. If, in the link, you see pics of a short guy with a light blue winter jacket, sunglasses, and a patriotic helmet, that's me. I saw myself in those pictures, twice at the front, once near the back (beach side shot - Compo beach for the locals), and one or two more times in the background.

The route took the group down to the coast, along it for a bit, then it headed back north to the shop. Except for a few exceptions, the route is mainly slightly downhill on the southern leg, flat along the coast, and a steadily climbing pain in the arse for the northern leg.

I quickly found my group riding mentality, sitting a couple inches off of wheels, scooting by riders with minor margins (and apologies to the guy who I passed on the outside of that hairy downhill turn - I think I got too close for comfort), and sitting so close next to riders to the point that I almost rode a few guys off the road.

Um, scratch that last bit.

Anyway... Since I fully expected to get sawn off the back on the way back, I tried to get a lot of TV time on the other two legs. Combine this with the desire to descend my own lines (and due to my immense density, my incredible coasting acceleration on said descents), I ended up at the front for much of the ride down to the coast. I felt like one of those early flier pros, destined for failure but eating up a lot of air time before flaming out.

Rare times, these, at least for me - sharing the front with such illuminaries as Funk, Davis, Peck, Badger, and other talented riders. I even got to chat a bit with them, at least until the wind and effort got to me.

I should point out that on one of the minor rises on the way back from the coast, I noticed I was at full throttle, my heartrate pegged, using all my tricks to hold my position. The guys around me were chatting nonchalantly. I rhetorically asked if I was the only one breathing at that moment, but my desperate huffs weren't clear enough to warrant a response. At least that's what I told myself.

I used all the tricks I knew. A lot of guys pointed out that I'd been at the front a lot, and they seemed rightly impressed, but it wasn't because I was strong. It was because I wasn't strong, and I was trying to buy myself room to drift back on the climbs.

On said climbs I'd immediately get into my "desperate climbing mode", one where I'm spinning a bit, sitting forward, and focusing on the wheel directly in front of me. I did this on each climb, and each time I saw the wattages creep up.

First it held at 100 watts over my 20 minute max. This meant I could sustain such an effort for a while, maybe 5 minutes or more, so I felt like I could do it. As the ride went on, the strong riders' patience started eroding, and my required wattage started to climb accordingly. On one short climb I was 200 watts over my 20 minute max, and I was in fact over a "recent-test" 60 second max.

This meant that I'd blow up in less than 60 seconds.

Thankfully that climb lasted a little less than 60 seconds, and although I drifted back a few spots to hold something in reserve, I quickly returned to the front bit of the field. I'd drifted back instinctively, in case someone attacked, but this wasn't one of those kinds of rides so no one attacked. I knew that underneath but, still, it's hard to get rid of those urges.

We headed back up the dreaded (to me) Route 58, a steadily climbing monster that has struck fear in my heart since I'd first ridden there back about 25 years ago. I got shelled on some flat bit, which, as I realized a few years later, was actually a slight climb in the middle of steeper pitches.

I made it over a couple of those pitches and started feeling a glimmer of hope, but then I saw some steps, those dreaded climbs followed by climbs. Mentally I collapsed and my legs stopped working. I made a furious (to me) effort to pull up next to the guy in front of me - this was so that the guy on my wheel (I think it was Chuck) wouldn't be gapped when I sat up.

Then I sat up.

Guys passed me, at first ignoring me (I looked like I was drifting back on purpose), then encouraging me (I was too far back to be drifting back on purpose), then ignoring me again (riders at their own limits typically don't see anything except the wheel in front of them).

The latter rule applied to me too because at some point Hob rolled by me. It charged me mentally and I immediately got on his wheel, boosted by an extra hundred watts just from seeing him, plus a huge draft off of his 60 cm framed body.

I started thinking of different times I'd ridden this part of 58. The double Bloomin Metric, with Mike H and the crew. I thought of what this "rolling along, aware of nothing but the tire in front of me" sensation felt like - it felt like sitting on John S's wheel in Belgium, feeling the thrum of the cobbles beneath my tires.

My adled brain pointed out to me that sitting on a 60 cm bike rider (Hob) is easier than a 66 cm bike rider (John S) because a 66 has me draft just knees and calves. A 60 puts the rider squarely in front of me so I actually get a draft.

At some point Hob eased up, and although he might have eased to tell me, "Okay, it's only a few miles to go", I took his easing to say, "Okay, I've pulled for about 6 hours, you pull for a minute."

So I pulled for, say, 30 seconds.


Watched Hob accidentally ride away from me.

I chased furiously at 22 mph, caught him, and promptly re-exploded.

He patiently waited, sipping from his bottle, and we rolled in, perhaps a mile or so later, to the shop.

I realized, while chasing that second time and watching Hob drink, that I had yet to take a sip from my bottle or to eat an energy bar during that ride.


We returned to our home base (several hours or several minutes away, whichever seems more plausible), where Mrs Hob, Mrs SOC, and Mrs SDC were waiting, pizzas, lemonade, and water at hand.

I'd joked that my goal on this ride was to show people just how weak I was, to get dropped, and to put them off-guard for the upcoming Bethel Series. But, although I sort of did that, I also surprised myself in some ways, mainly because I could climb with guys going so easy they were almost falling off their bikes. But, hey, I climbed with them, sometimes even leading them.

So, for the road race roll outs, neutralized sections, and charitable non-race group rides, watch out.

For everything else?

There's Memorex. Or something like that.