Monday, February 21, 2011

Snowball Crit #1 February 20, 2011

The racing season is underway.  In Virginia the season has started with the Snowball training series for the past 14 years.  Although this is a training race, riders don't treat it like that.  Nerves are high and anticipation is great.  Sometimes it could set the tone for the season.  It is a great place to gain some confidence for the year, but it is also a place you could lose all you worked for.  A high place or an aggressive showing with validate your winter training.  A fall or crash could easily get in your head and cause unnecessary nerves for the remainder of the season.

The Virginia Beach Wheelmen had something to prove:
The Virginia Beach Wheelmen (VBW) really came together as a team this winter.  We have also considered ourselves a team and not a club, but we are still amateurs with life that tends to get in the way.  In the past we have had a few racers stay focus all year while others allow silly things like new babies, new homes, weddings, new jobs and opening new businesses to get in the way of cycling (I know crazy isn't it?)  This year it looked like it was all coming together.
  • Mike Tamayo decided cold or not, there was nothing to keep him off the bike this season.  He religiously followed a winter training program I provided to him.  
  • John Gray got very motivated early.  He took the CX season to take time off the bike.  I coached him with weekly plans, strength and cross training.  I have never seen him ride so well.  
  • Tim Shockley opened up his Shockley Sweet Shoppe store at the beginning of the year.  This actually allowed him to quit his landscaping job and concentrate solely on his business.  This change in duel concentration has allowed him to get in a good solid month of training and the promise of more miles to come.  Tim was quickly riding himself back into top form.
  • Zach Kyler has done his best to follow the training plan provided for him by me.  He, however has battled the flu throughout the winter, especially last month.  This illness has kept him from being consistent.  He is a strong and motivated racer and it will not take him long to regain his form.
  • Jon Nisbet, currently our only Cat 2 racer, has been busy with work and a new baby.  Anyone who saw him during CX season knows that it doesn't take much for him to regain form.  Jon is a natural talent and will get hungry for racing again.
  • Then there is me.  As the coach of the team I am just as concerned with everyone's form as I am with my own.  I am exactly where I wanted to be.  I put in a lot of time and feel I need to just work on race speed and I will be right there.  That is what the early races are all about.
That is the VBW racing team.  We worked hard this winter and feel like we deserve success.

CAT 3/4 Race
All of us with the exception of Jon Nisbet lined up for the 3/4 race.  We had our new, bright green helmets which received a lot of attention.  We were ready.  The plan:  Have at least two riders at all times at the front.  Make sure nothing escaped without us.  We would rotate the riders through taking turns to cover.  More importantly though, test out our legs by making some attacks of our own.  Use this as a training race and see what we could do.  If at the end it was a group sprint, we would form a leadout and try to get at least 2 racers in the top 5.

2011 Snowball 1 Criterium
Photo courtesy of Team Traveller
Everything went as planned except that Zach ended up getting dropped.  That was okay, he didn't quit and continued to use the race as another step to getting his fitness back.  The team was all very pleased to see him stay in.  Mike and John did the majority of the work with attacks and chases.  At all times you could see the aggressiveness of the bright green Rudy Project helmets.  Tim and I both did a fair amount of work covering attacks, making attacks and just creating an aggressive presence in the pack.  With just a few laps to go we started to get into position to create a leadout.  Coming up to the bell lap, Mike, John and myself were right near each other with Tim just behind us.  Then the crash happened.  It separated the field.  Mike barely managed to stay up and it really took him out.  John wasn't prepared at this time for a big sprint because he had just launched an attack.  Tim was a little too far back and got separated.  I kicked it, yelled to John to get on my wheel.  He said "keep it going".  In other words he couldn't get on.  I couldn't slow if I had any chance on catching the lead.  So I kept going hard and caught the group just before the second turn.  As we rounded the turn I gunned it again to pass the line and I got on the wheel of the two riders creating the leadout.  The big effort left very little in my legs for a sprint and I ended up with 4th place.  Not bad, but we had hoped for better.  The other guys finished well, at least no one went down with the crash.

CAT 1/2/3
All of the VBW racers with the exception of Zach decided to double up.  What a great way to get speed in your legs.  Jon Nisbet didn't race at all because he was battling an illness.  The race started with the idea that we were going to sit in and survive.  The problem is that we are bike racers and a lot of times finishing in a pack with a large break up the road is not surviving.  Once again we did our fair share of work with Mike and John pulling the most weight for the team.  A four man break did get up the road and there was a lot of effort to catch them for a while.  As far as us, Tim was the first to go.  He got some good speed in his legs and some great training but it was a little too much for the miles he had under his belt.  I was the next one.  This actually surprised me.  At no point during this race did I think I was going to drop.  With about 14 laps to go, just before turn number 2, my legs cramped.  It was a sudden cramp, both legs, quads, hamstrings and calves.  I actually almost lost control of my bike.  Luckily I was on the outside and was able to go outside the cones and just go straight.  I couldn't pedal and I couldn't sit down.  It took a long time to go away.  That had never happened that bad before.  Mike was next.  With fewer than 5 laps to go his legs started to cramp and he couldn't work them out.  John did very well and stayed in for the final sprint.

I am very excited about how the team did.  It makes for a very promising season.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2011 Sleepy Hole Smackdown

Register on Bike Reg:  Click Here

PRESENTED BY   The Virginia Beach Wheelmen   and City of Suffolk Parks and Recs           

at SLEEPY HOLE PARK IN SUFFOLK, VA on March 12, 2011
Held under USA Cycling Permit, Pending
30 minutes
Women CAT 4 / 40+
30 minutes
Women 1/2/3
40 minutes
Junior 10-14
15 minutes
Junior 15-18
30 minutes
45 minutes
Kid’s Race

1 lap
40 minutes
60 minutes
Masters 40+/50+/60+
45 minutes
              Entry fee includes a $3.00 USAC Insurance fee and $1 BAR fee.  All entrants must have a current USCF license or must purchase a            One-day license at registration.  Riders under 18 requires a parent’s signature to race.  All USAC rules apply.  On line registration is            available on BikeReg .  BikeReg Service fee will be charged for online registration. Race day registration will be available for a $5           late fee.  (no late fee for Juniors, Women and CAT 5)..Helmets are required for all races; no aero bars.
Course Description:  Flat, fast 0.5 mile loop with two 90-degree bends and two nice left sweepers.  Bring the family, plenty of room for kids to            play.   
              Directions:  Google Map or GPS address is 4700 Sleepy Hole Rd, Suffolk VA 23435 (Sleepy Hole Park).
Parking will be available in designated parking areas.  Please do not park on the road leading to the course.
For additional information contact: Joshua Goyet at (757) 515-5940, Email:

Monday, February 7, 2011

The 3 Foot Passing Law

Over the last couple of weeks the Virginia Cycling Association List Server has been flooded with comments, questions, ideas and sometimes just plain nonsense related to the legislation concerning giving cyclist an additional 1 foot of safety.  Currently the mandates motorist pass cyclist giving them at least 2 feet of space.  The bill did not pass and the majority of the cycling community seemed quite upset.  It was referred to as "free safety".  The bill would have made us riders safer and would not have cost the the government anything.

It seemed like a no-brainer to pass this law.  However, reportedly according to one legislator, "cyclists are often rule breakers who don't deserve any additional protection".  Therefore, according to him, if you run a stop sign, you deserve to be hit by a car.  It doesn't pass the smell test, but it did create a lot of dialog on the importance of riding within the law.  Let's look at a couple of reasons why all this talk was probably a waste of time.

First of all this discussion occurs at least once a year on cycling list servers everywhere.  Usually it is a result of a cyclist getting hit by a vehicle.  Each time this topic comes up, cyclists are upset and through opinions, ideas, they want to make T-shirts and bumper stickers, call their congressman and get on their high horse and tell the world to respect cyclist because we will save the planet.  Then all is forgotten until the incident sparks the same conversation.

Let's look at the law itself.  Are you any safer if a car gives you 3 feet versus 2 feet?  Since most if not all cyclists are also motorists, can you tell the difference between 2 feet and 3 feet when passing something on the road traveling at 25-65 miles an hour?  Be honest, and the answer is probably no.  Here's another question to ask, how many non-cyclists know that they are even supposed to give cyclists 2 feet?  If you ask most people, I bet the answer you would get would be something along the line of passing "safely" or with "due regard".  Most people would not even know that there is a specific number.  So is it really safer to pass a law that no one knows exist anyway?

Here is my suggestion on how to make cycling on the open roads safer:  Don't ride in a manner that makes people want to hit you.  It is very simple and free.  Here are some examples.

Group rides could present problems.  On any given Weekend, large groups of 30 or more can be found all over the country and city roads of Virginia Beach.  Most of these groups will ride 2 or 3 (maybe more) abreast.  When motorists, trying to get home or to the store attempt to pass these large groups, they may be forced to put themselves or others in danger by using excessive speed and traveling down the wrong lane.  Many cyclists, though motorists themselves, cannot understand why these drivers get so upset at them.  I have heard riders say things along the line of "what is so important that they can't wait behind us", or "we have just as much right to the road as they do".  We may have right to the road, but "Share the Road" goes both ways.  Plus, we should never presume we know the importance of someone's activities.

What if you came across a group of horseback riders on the road while you were in your car?  Would you be comfortable passing them?  Would you be tolerant of them slowing you down and disturbing your day?  Be honest with yourself, everyone is in a hurry at times.
Ride in smaller groups.  Limit the number to 7 or 8 riders and always be willing to slow down, single file or do whatever it takes to ensure the cars can safely pass you.  Look and act like you belong on the roads.

The other day, a friend of mine who is not a cyclist was leaving his street on one of those county roads.  The speed limit on this road is 55 mph and is pretty narrow.  There was a car coming down the road to his left.  He was stopped at a stop sign when he noticed the car was going much slower than 55 mph and had her blinker on to turn right onto the street he was leaving.  He pulled out and quickly realized that she was not turning and she had to slam on her brakes to avoid hitting my friend.  He felt really bad and felt even worse when he went around her and notice a cyclist lying on the ground.  The cyclist was motor pacing off of this vehicle.  The driver was probably doing about 25 to 30 mph and the cyclist was following so close that he couldn't be seen around the car.  The blinker that my friend thought he saw was the hazards.

He stopped to check on the rider.  He felt really bad and apologized.  He said he was really sorry and he thought her blinker was on and that she was turning.  The cyclist responded with "That was her hazards you asshole."  Needless to say my friend no longer felt bad.  The cyclist was being careless and did not accept the responsibility for his own decisions.  I'm not saying he should not motor pace, but he needs to understand that he doesn't own the road and that other motorists may dictate what his pacer needs to do, and he needs to be able to react accordingly, or not pace at all.

Remember, just be nice and don't make drivers want to run us off the road.