Saturday, July 22, 2006

Training week + Giro di Coppi

My brother Nick was in town this past week to hang out and ride a lot. And ride a lot we did. It was certainly a big step up in hours from what I've been putting in. The week totalled about 20 hours. Big days were the Tuesday Blackhawk-->MagicMo-->BlackMo mountain spectacular, followed up by the Alexandria-->Speedride century of fun. I felt a lot better than I thought I would after such a week, and was excited to head out to do a rather up and down road race course down in Maryland put on by a team we have both previously ridden for.

The day of racing was started off by Lisa, Nick's wife, trouncing the competition once again to claim her 12th victory of the year. Sandbagger. Nick and I went off a few hours later. I had 50 hilly miles ahead of me whereas Nick had about 75 I believe. I did my best to stay near the front, as I knew splits would occur on the climbs that abound throughout the course. The first lap I worked pretty hard, and was about 10-15th wheel through the uphill finish. The next lap I hung out and saved my energy as much as I could. During the third lap a few breaks started getting small gaps, and I noticed the Coppi guys (who's jersey I was wearing) weren't getting into all of them. So I went up there and the next one that split off without one of us on there I waited for someone else to jump and just rode their wheel up to the break, sucker. I'm not sure why he did it either because he had a guy up there. Anyway we all pulled through once, and then I found myself first into a relatively hard corner into a narrow uphill road. I looked back and our gap was pretty small, so I decided to see if I could get just one or two of the guys to come with me and attacked pretty hard through the corner. Noone came up, and I was alone up there with a gap I couldn't hold for the 20 or so miles left in the race, so I just rode up the climb steadily and reintegrated into the group. After that I recovered as best I could and stayed in the top quarter of the now relatively small field. Two guys jumped where I had the previous lap, and they ended up staying away. I was right there, but I was like... oh oh! not doing that again. Oh well. Came time for the uphill sprint and I had jack, so I just rode it in for what is a respectable 23rd, considering how many miles I put in this week.

Nick also put in a great ride to pull out a 12th in the Pro 1,2 race. Nice way to break in the new carbon race hoops. Didn't see much of the race, but it was splintered to all hell on the last lap. Two places out of the money... d'oh.

So now it's time to eat pasta and take it easy this week... Toona coming up, gotta score a point.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Hummelstown + SRAM

I went out to do the former Harrisburg Honda Crit, now held in Hummelstown, Pa. I did the 3/4 field in hopes that I would really dig deep and stay in, which would be some great preparation for Toona's technical crit.

I got a horrible start, and was chasing from the get go. The very first straight on the course necks down into a tight left hander which was a clusterfuck. I came close to trackstanding (although it was nothing compared to Norristown). By the time I came around to top off lap number one I was at the end of the field which was strung out taking over the entire finishing straightaway. At some point my rear wheel, which was just built up recently, again succumbed to my unbelievable force and let a few spokes loosen halfway down the threads. I didn't really even notice it until I stopped, which happened rather suddenly as every other rotation of my wheel my brakes locked up. I didn't realize it until it was not really possible to grab a lap or anything. MOTHERFUCKER. Not that I had a result in my legs, but still. MOTHERFUCKER.

Anyway, there were cooler things to be seen. Across from where I sat down to watch the race sat a bike shop's tent displaying some high end bikes. I gazed over and realized one of them was a Cannondale System6 with SRAM Force shifters and ders. MOTHERFUCKER! So of course I went over and checked it out. I rode it up and down the street numerous times fooling around with the shifting. I really liked it... Certainly a learning curve, but it feels crisp. The angle that the shifter motion is swept back is natural, but it takes some getting used to... if that makes sense. Something didn't feel comfortable where the shifters met the bars, but that can usually be changed by how you mount them, or wrap the tape. I tried out the shifting position when you're in the drops holding the shifting lever back and flicking your wrist. It worked really well, and certainly very possible to do in a sprint. The one thing I didn't like right off was that there is no trim on the front der. What's with that? The dude from the shop said because of the Double Tap, they couldn't do it. Shutup. If the rear has ten "trim" positions, if you will, why can't the front have more than two positions?

Anyway, I got home and rode Penn's Caves because I was pissed. Almost bonked. Never good to ride when you're pissed, but I'm tired now so I'll sleep better. At least I didn't crash I guess, Kyle may have broken his collarbone, so hopefully he can get back on the bike soon. Certainly could have been worse for both of us.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


July 4th... spent a few hours out on the bike. Munas and I rode Upper Lime into Black Mo. We rode all the climbs very steady which was relatively easy on the early climbs, and became increasingly difficult, at least for me, as we progressed through the ride. I hadn't climbed over ridges here side by side with someone in a while and it really made me realize that I had let my climbing technique suffer quite a bit. (That assumes I had better technique back at some point). Realizing that I dropped back quickly whenever I let my upperbody bounce or if I didn't keep even pressure on the pedals throughout the full stroke. Basically I realized I just need to concentrate a whole lot more at keeping my upper body steady, and my pedaling action smooth. Earthbreaking right? Just didn't realize I had gotten so sloppy. Hopefully I can get used to riding a bit more fluently for Toona.

I got the Harrisburg (now Hummelstown) Honda crit, Mount Penn and Giro di Coppi on the schedule before Toona. The last two there should let me test out some more climbing in a racing situation.

On another vein, sucks for Valverde, Rodriguez and Erik Dekker. What is the record for collarbone fractures in one day at the Tour??

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Some racing updates...

Well it's been a little while since I've updated this. You can certainly read into that, I haven't had anything encouraging or fun to share for a while.

Some catchup: Few weeks ago I did both the 4/5 and the 3/4 at Pfieffer Hill. The course was a few miles with one pretty good climb and a few other painful uphill pitches. One lap into the 4/5 I broke my spoke. Immediately my wheel was rubbing badly on the brakes, so I just had to stop and wait for the sag wagon. The guy who picked me up was the promoter, whom I had actually contacted before about the poor quality maps he has on his website. He was a pretty cool guy, and he eventually hooked me up with a spoke and lent me some tools to fix my wheel. So I got it all patched up for the 3/4. However I just didn't have the legs to hang with the 3/4 field on the climb. I later discovered that I had broken two more spokes. Often when you break one and just replace it without retensioning, the wheel is much weaker. On a better note Luke managed to get a top 15 in the 3/4, finishing up strong in the front group... rock on.

So now onto the reason I feel like writing here again. This past weekend Munas, Kyle, Matt S., Kristine "Jersey" J., Rachel and I did the Tour de Sales at De Sale University. It was a "collegiate" race in the middle of the summer. The first day was a crit, and despite only having about 12 starters, the action was hot from the beginning. Mike Chauner from Bucknell (A rider, strong dude) attacked through the first turn, and everyone groaned. The field chased him down, and about a lap later they rang the bell for a $10 prime. Some messing around on the backside left me a lane, so I took it on a slight uphill, and had enough of a gap to take the prime. Chauner quickly bridged up to me and the break was off. I didn't take consistent pulls the first two laps or so off the front. I wasn't sure how smart it was to ride with this kid to the finish, but I figured 2nd place as a worse case scenario isn't bad. So we worked pretty well together for the next 10-12 laps. Munas, Kyle and Spohn were all chasing down people trying to bridge up during this time. Chauner and I opened up about a 3/4 lap lead, and the messing around began. We attacked each other for about a lap and a half before he finally jumped and I just couldn't respond. I finished it up for 2nd place. Good day. Munas rounded out the podium by taking the field sprint.

Sunday was a circuit race, with a pretty good climb near the finish. I felt good in the first few laps, and was trying to help keep tabs on Chauner, and possibly make him feel it a bit on the climb. That backfired a bit when I couldn't hang on the climb, and got dropped with 2 to go. Munas again sprinted well to get 3rd while Kyle came up big to get 5th. Kevin, a JMU rider, made a great move in the finale to outsmart Chaunder and Munas for the win.

And the girls won everything. Noone else showed up... sucks.

Fun weekend all in all. Only thing that sucked is that now I have two checks made out to "Penn State Cycling". Greeeaaat. That'll be easy to get money. I'll post some pictures later.