Sunday, August 30, 2009

The girls enjoying what is left of the summer. in the last few weeks both of the girls have become comfortable in the water. Both girls can swim above and below the water. Madelyn is using the arm floats because she has been in the water for 3 hours and is tired.

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Pretty Jenni sporting her new Performance Point shirt. Train to win. That's the point.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

I love end of season racing

In the VCA the racing season has officially ended. BAR points were added up and protest period announced. On group rides you see many CX bikes with road tires, some with knobbies. The temperature out is telling us that we should still be racing, but there are no more to do.

Then came along the Bare Bones Racing Series at the Sportsplex. Five weeks of training crits. Bare Bones is right. It cost $10, or $30 if you prepay for all 5. One category, Open. No prizes. The officials volunteer and the money simply pays for the permits. It is a true training crit.

Last night was the first one. Thirty-nine racers lined up. The start time was 7 pm and I think that is going to change. We raced for nearly an hour and ended up sprinting in the near dark. But for an end of season training crit, riders took this serious. There were many attacks, chases and tactics played. It all ended up as a group at the end though.

As for me, I felt pretty good. I went with a number of breaks. I bridged a number of times and chased a lot. I am starting to get the hang of recovering once in a break and being able to contribute something without getting dropped from them. One of the most promising breaks occurred near the end of the race. We had a gap and because there were only 4 laps to go, I thought the pack might be hesitant to chase...I was wrong. We got caught on the bell lap. At that point it was just get in and finish with the group.

But this training series comes at a perfect time. It will keep the flame lit for those who are road only racers and take them into the off season with a little bit higher fitness level perhaps. And for us cross racers, it is a great way to get some high intensity work to prepare us for the CX racing.

I just love the fun, no pressure training crits...especially this time of year.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Back on the CX bike

I made some changes to the TCX this year. In the past two years the bike was set up much like my road bike. I always felt too stretched out and in a position that I couldn't get power...especially when riding on grass.

So the body position change was made by the stem change. I got a shorter stem and pointed it angled up. This allows to me to get power from my hoods and not having to feel like I have to ride the tops of the bars all the time.

The other changes that I made was the components. Because of upgrades to the road bike, I was able to take old road parts and put it on this bike. I upgraded the 9-speed set up with 10-speed Ultegra. I also replaced all the cables, new chain and took the bar top brake levers off.

So I rode it to work yesterday with the plan of riding Seashore this morning when I got off. This is exactly what happened. It was a good ride. There were a lot of runners at Seashore and most of them were pissing me off. I think I felt a little like Pungo motorist when trying to pass groups of 30+ riders. These groups of runners were high school teams I think. They were riding all in groups of 5 to 10. A few groups, as they ran towards me, would spread out and see how far over they could push me. I think next time I will call their bluffs and ride straight through them. But I was trying to be nice, I was taking it easy so I wasn't flying, so I passed slowly and gave everyone plenty of room. The sign at the beginning of the trail asks riders to give warning when passing and be polite. On a number of occasions, the runners I was attempting to pass were plugged into their iPods and couldn't hear the warnings as I tried to pass them, so I still scared the crap out of them because they were also usually running all together taking up the whole trail.

Oh well, school will be back in session soon and the trail will be less crowded that time of morning.

The dirt and sand, mixed with my high sweat content, created a nice mud paste on my legs. But that's what cyclocross is all about, right?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Transition

The Chesapeake Crit went well this last weekend. VBW had 3 racers in the 30+ race (plus a secret new member that we haven't announced yet who is still racing under his current colors). I felt pretty good. I made some moves but nothing really to write home about. I thought a move with 5 laps to go had potential. I was actually chasing a Bike Works rider up the road and the front of the pack just let me separate. When I realized I had a gap, I pushed harder. A pair of riders came up to me and I had enough in me to fall in and start working with them. But we didn't work hard enough and the pack was chasing hard. With 3 to go we were caught along with the lone flier up the road. I tried to get in good position but was a little too far back. I ended up 16th overall and 5th in the 30-34 age group.

That was my last road event of the season. So this week is my transition to CX. I am taking some days off the bike and spending my normal days at Performance Point. If my CX bike is ready (I'm doing some work on it) by Wednesday, I might ride it to work. When I get off work in the mornings I am planning on riding First Landing Park. I'm getting pretty excited.

The transition isn't a complete transition. When I do group road rides I will still ride the road bike. Plus I am really looking forward to the training series at the Sportsplex for the month of September. It will be a good place to get some high intensity training.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Goals for the up coming off season.

Part of my problem in cycling has always been focusing on the future instead of what is right in front of me. This post is a perfect example. I am already starting to look toward the cross season, off season and next season, and I still have a race this weekend. Part of that might be the fact that I have not felt great on my bike the last few weeks. Been a little tired. Part of it is also the last crit I raced was the Richmond race. I did not do Page Valley because I couldn't get off of work. This long break in racing is tough. So my mind starts to wonder to what I didn't do well with this year and what I can fix in the off season.

Let's first start off with what I did do well. I set a personal best at the Dismal Dash, Conquer the Canal and PLT #2 TTs this year. I gained more confidence in staying at the front of the packs and gained some race smarts as well as when to attack and when to let other teams chase.

Here's what I didn't do. I did not put in the miles required for excellent fitness. I did not get the fitness level required to survive a long break away. I did not gain the confidence to be in the top 5 positions on the final lap.

So here is my off season plan:

Enjoy the cyclocross season. Train hard with it and put in some long rides that includes technique riding. This will help start a base building early but more importantly give me some bike handling confidence to be elbow to elbow in the final sprint. But most importantly, have fun. That's what cross is all about, having fun while being in the worst pain of your life. Go cowbells.

Lose weight. This one is tricky. I am a firefighter and so upper body strength is important to me. But this last year I really never got below 192 lbs. If I could get that number down to 180, I believe I could be quite a bit faster. Plus if I could slim down my upper body, I could be that much more aero. The trick will be to lose weight without losing strength or power. It can be done, but it will take a while. That is why I need to start now for next summer.

Finally I want to breath easier. This will be accomplished in January when I get my deviated septum fixed. This has always been an issue of mine. I have a hard time talking and eating while on the bike because I have to breath through my mouth. Plus maybe, like many movie stars, when I get my deviated septum fixed, maybe it will make my nose look smaller. Then I go back to the idea of being more aero....and sexy.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Maryland Trip. Riding and Drinking.

My wife's sister and her husband live up in the Jefferson area of Maryland. So for me, living in the flat roads of Virginia Beach, a trip to visit them always includes some good hilly rides. They just built a brand new house so on the first day I explored some of the roads around the new area. I found a loop that was just over 6 miles long which included one really steep climb that my iBike registered at a 17.8%. Many of the climbs were short but potentially steep.

Just down from their house I noticed an entrance to the C&O Canal. My mind is already starting to think cyclocross so I was excited to think of the chance to visit them in the winter and ride some of the canal. We actually later took some 4-wheelers out and ended up this same area after riding through cornfields and some woods on their property.

Everyone up there seemed nice. One guy even started cheering me on when he realized I was doing loops. He was out working at the top of the steep climb.

Although there were some asses on the road...

No trip is complete without a night...or two of drinking. So they decided to throw their annual summer party at the new pad. Joel and I went and picked up a few hundred dollars worth of liqueur and this huge block of ice. Groves were cut into the ice and an ice luge is formed. By the time the liqueur reaches your mouth it is very cold.

Plus you gotta love the looks from the women drinking form it.

Later on that night many of the ladies ended up jumping on the trampoline. I am very sorry but it was too dark to get pictures with my phone. Trust me I tried.

Overall it was a fun trip. Got a couple of days of great riding and a couple of days of destroying my liver.