Monday, September 20, 2010


When you ride a bike, you cover a lot of ground.  Unless you're riding underwater or riding across the Australian outback, you're likely to encounter a lot of people too.  Some of them may even be cyclists, but most will just be walking or driving cars.

Here's the thing.  The general public HATES us.  They think we're a bunch of assholes who run lights and get in the way of their miserable commutes and don't pay taxes.  Except for the last one, they're mostly right.  So it would go a long way in cyclist-everyone else relations if we were to simply wave as we passed.   Not like a "hi we're friends and I want to talk to you" wave, but more of a "I respect your right to be here and hope you would do the same for me" wave.  Wave at cops, wave at pedestrians, wave at 60 year olds on hybrids.  Especially wave at kids.  When they hit 16, they really need to know that we're humans, and our lives have slightly more value than that text message they just received.

So wave.  Let them know we're people too, and that we aren't all douchebags.  We have a lot of bad relations to atone for.  Don't be a douchebag.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Back to the Rules: Don't Ride, Train, or don't complain.

Overheard at the end of a race recently:  "I don't know what happened, I do 150 mile rides all the time"

I don't care how much it impresses the people at your office, riding a kajillion miles is not that hard.  You just sit on your bike and pedal all day.  You don't have to do it particularly fast, and it never really hurts.  Well not the way it hurts when you're getting dropped because you can't put out 400W for another 2 minutes.  Racing a bike is not the same as riding a bike.  Sure the physical motions may be the same, but they are entirely different worlds of pain.  This is what separates us from the pathletes, the pretend tri-geeks, and the group riders.  When the purpose of riding your bike is to race it, everything changes.

Most racing puts incredibly huge demands on your body for relatively short periods of time.  An attack may last a few minutes, a hill may last half an hour, but that's pretty much it.  Crits are even worse.  You sprint out of every corner, gasp for air between them, and then sprint super duper hard one more time before it's all over.  Going out and riding all day is not going to prepare you for this type of racing.  Racing me on the path isn't going to either.

Learn to train, or just do whatever you want and be slow.  Those are your options, but don't think that any racer is going to be impressed by your 500 mile week or your bike trip up the coast.   Riding up lookout in 19 minutes is WAY more impressive than the 6 hours you rode yesterday.  Try it sometime and you'll see why.  Plus, I guarantee that anybody who can do a 20 minute lookout would beat you at a double century, they just have better things to do.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What I'm thinking...

A follower recently suggested that I post about what's going through my head during a race.  There was also a link to a few (well written) examples.   I'm not sure this is the best thing for me, however.

It would have been a great idea before I upgraded.  I  used to think things like "conserve here, attack here, suffer here and you can win," etc.  Now that I have (get) to race against the best cyclists in the hardest state to race bikes, all I ever think of is "hold the fuck on" for as long as I can.  Last weekend, this was intermittently replaced by "do some work for your team," but it went right back to "hold the fuck on,"  and then straight to "oh crap there they go" and then "suffer alone, don't lose too much time, you MUST beat Jon Moro or your life is worthless."

I often wonder how much more I'd be able to suffer if Bjarne was back in the team car screaming at me.  At the time I think there is no possible way I could have hung on, but after the fact I continuously think "Really?  REALLY? You couldn't have gone ANY faster?"

Next year I need to work on losing some serious weight, and gaining some serious mental toughness.  I could have held on longer, maybe even until the end, if I were being chased by a bear or something.  Maybe I just need to visualize bears.  Or tape a picture of Jens with his face on the ground.  He never gave up until he was unconscious.  What would Jens do?  He would suffer way more than my miserable self ever has.

But that's for next season.  For now, all that's on my mind is cupcakes, donuts, cheeseburgers, maybe even a beer, and some long fun rides without any concern for LT or V02Max.

But underneath that, I'm already planning next year's training/racing/dieting/suffering.  It'll suck horrbily, but it's going to be great.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Steamboat Springs Stage Race: Racing against the pros.

Since the rules thing has apparently gone out the window, I suppose I'll use this blog to write an extended race report for the past few days.  I spent Labor Day Weekend in Steamboat springs, and competed in a 4 Stage race.  This is my 4th race as a Cat 2.  My previous 3 have ended in:  dropped on the 2nd of 9 laps at Salida, dropped on the 4th (maybe 3rd?) of 8 laps at Air Force, and ended up in the winning break of 8 at the Primal Crit, but sprinted on the wrong lap.  Riding in the p12 field is RIDICULOUS out here, but I really love it, and I hope I can continue to improve and become more of a player in these races.

Stage 1 wasn't actually a stage but rather a 10km prologue TT.  It was windy, and mostly flat with a 3-ish minute hill at the end.  My time of 13:16 was good enough for 27th place, and put me :57 behind the winner, Peter Stetina.  Just for a comparison, 31st place in our field would have won the SM3 time trial by 4 seconds.

Stage 1 for reals.  Circuit race, 4.5 miles, 10 laps but 11 times up the hill.  The very first hill was enough to start shedding people. I got dropped on the 4th lap when Stetina launched an attack that made my head spin.  I knew it was coming when he dropped back from the front in order to slingshot himself forward, but nothing could prepare me for the subsequent acceleration the entire pack made to try to hang on.  WHen it became obvious that I wasn't going to catch back on after the descent, I sat up and waited for the inevitable groupetto.   Through awesome luck I was caught by a group of 3 strong, determined chasers.  I worked as hard as I could, but I was lucky that the others in the group were considerably stronger than I.  We managed to catch the main field halfway through the final lap.  I got dropped on the final 3-ish  minute climb almost instantly, but was only a minute or so down from the main pack.   There was a group off the front by many minutes too.  I've never been so happy for an almost pack finish.  It was great.

Stage 2.  Road Race.  70 miles.  The first  50 were rather boring, but I'll take it.  There was a group of 3 off the front that had 3 minutes just after the first feed zone.  Some teammates and I went to the front to reel some of it in.  By the bottom of the hill we had put 40 seconds into the break, but I paid for it when I fell off about halfway up the hill.  The group did eventually catch the break, and I caught up with 3 others for the trip home to the finish.  2 of us were willing to work, but the other guy got a flat, so I just TT'ed all the way home, dragging whoever was willing.  I ended up losing about 5 minutes on the group, but only 1 place on GC.  Not horrible, and I'm telling myself that it was better for our team leader that I worked to catch the break instead of defending my 23rd place on GC.  It was nice to be useful.

Stage 3, the Crit.  Oh God.  Holy Shit that was fast.  At one point there was a break up the road.  I tried to bridge my team leader up to it, but when I was about halfway there, some guy from the bridge group attacked.  The teammate was able to hold his wheel and make it up to what was eventually the winning break, and he got 2nd.  I spent the rest of the day sprinting as fast as I could just to stay in the peloton, but I managed to do it, and finished in the pack.  At a few points in the race I was hanging by a thread, but it ended up ok.

All in all, a great race.  I'm sad that there isn't any racing until at least February, but I'm also glad to take a break, eat some donuts, and regroup for next year.