Tuesday, April 27, 2010


This past weekend I tried my legs out on the Singlespeed-A-Palooza Race in New Windsor, NY. Yup, a single speed only race with 250 one gear, mostly rigid racers ready to tear up the 25.5 mile course. We showed up the day before to pre-ride the course and found it fast, fun and swoopy...just what a single speed course should be. Too bad the rain came in over night and turned the surface into a thick greasy mud! Thankfully, I played it conservative and changed my gear ratio from 32:17 to 32:18 to fight through the muddy mess. Anyway, here is the play by play:

When we woke up on race day it was steady rain and in the 40's. UGH. With faint determination we made it to the race and were ready to go for the 9:00 start time. 8 Minutes after the Expert/Pros took to the course, I was off! Rosy, a cool girl we met on the pre-ride, had the hole shot and took the lead (or so I thought...more later.) She was riding a 2:1 gear ratio which gave her great advantage on flat terrain, but eventually caught up to her on the muddy climbs. After a few encouraging words, she let me take the lead (or so I thought) and I managed to get into a groove in spite of the slick course. With dirt in my belly and mud in my eyes, I finished the first 12.75 mile loop feeling pretty good.

Starting my second loop I could feel a "fullness" in my legs on the climbs. Uh Oh...the cramp monsters! I stopped, stretched, downed a TON of fluids and ate two GU's. Unfortunately I think it was a bit too late. For the remainder of the race I had to take a couple of quick stretching breaks to keep the monsters at bay, but at least they stayed at bay! Anyway, I came up to a girl along the second loop and thought, "Hmmm...am I catching an expert here or was there someone I didn't see?" Turns out she was an expert and let me know that I was actually in second place and the first place sport was WAY out ahead. Wow, that sucks. Oh, well...onward! I caught a second girl fairly quickly and thought that maybe, just maybe this was the sport girl, but it was another expert having a bad day with crashes. Pretty soon after, with more dirt in my belly and mud in my eyes, I was done! Second Place Sport Woman!

I'm still baffled that I missed seeing the first sport girl take off, but it isn't all that unusual for me to be oblivious to my surroundings. She was probably with us ladies at the line-up the whole time and I just didn't see/talk to her. But a mystery remains for me because Rob is sure he passed her early in the first loop. I have to admit that the start was confusing because we were told via email to start with the Sport North men, but there was a small sign at the starting line-up that actually put us behind them.

No matter! I came home with a new Thompson stem, cool trophy, t-shirt, water bottle, and a belly full of hot dogs, beer and dirt! Good times!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Random Road Ride Rambling

On a typical day, I *try* my best to be ready to ride at the designated time, I prefer to stop infrequently and above all, I try not to be an anchor.

Today was not a typical day.

First, I think someone slipped me a ruffie or something because I was woken up by the doorbell when Jamie and Glen were at my house at 10:00am. WTF? I haven't slept that late since I've done overnight shifts. Crap. My "give me 15 minutes" turned in to about 30 minutes as I fed myself and the dogs (no coffee for me!), walked the dogs quickly to allow them to relieve themselves, suited up, prepared a couple of water bottles and finally strapped on my fanny-pack. Yeah, I'm rockin' a fanny-pack. What do you want to say about it? Here's the deal, ever since last year's "photo a day" project, I feel naked if I leave my camera at home. So again, yeah, I'm rollin' with a fanny pack. Deal with it.

Anyway, we rolled out of the driveway and headed toward Gloucester. As I'm primarily a mountain biker, and essentially a singlespeeder at that, I'm not well versed in road etiquette. I could be described as a squirrel. Glen and Jamie taught me the meaning of the "flapping chicken wing," and how NOT to attack hills, and passed on some other pearls of wisdom. 

As if my 30 minute delay at the onset of our ride wasn't bad enough, I also flatted. My tube change was pretty fast, but then Jamie noticed that my tire wasn't seated properly and the bead was popping out. I was able to deflate, re-seat, and re-inflate fairly quickly, but I was feeling like the black cloud on this ride. Oh, and I was sucking wind, but that's beside the point. 

Glen also flatted, but his tube change was done in the blink of an eye. Jamie used that opportunity to promote the fine bicycle products offered by KHS. We were back on the road fairly quickly and after a total of about 20 miles, I was back home. Jamie & Glen headed back to Salem, no doubt talking about New Mexico races from 5yrs ago...

When all was said and done, my "recovery ride" had me peaking with power at more than 1000 watts at one point, with plenty of surges over 600 watts. D'oh. I can recover for the next 7 days at work!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

We've got cards...

You'll be getting some to pass out... Spread the love!

Monday, April 12, 2010

2010 Tour of the Battenkill

Falling off the trainer and flatting - nice start to the season!

Battenkill is a river; 'Batten' was some sort of name from the past. 'Kill' is what the race did to me! Actually, 'Kill' means a river or stream, among other things. Inane name trivia aside, the race tours through absolutely incredible countryside making one big 62 mile loop that criss-crosses the Battenkill a number of times.

Launching out of Cambridge, NY with 95 of my closest CAT3 road racing buddies - the sound of tires on pavement, the buzz of 8 dozen freewheels, and the bright sun were all welcome sounds and sights. This race is nuts as it covers a lot of ground on dirt roads - making it very similar to traditional European "Spring Classics". Thank god it was not cold or rainy - but cool and sunny. The first 10 miles were typically twitchy - but not too demanding. When we veered off the safety of the first big smooth highway stretch down a narrow country road to dive bomb an even narrower covered bridge - all hell broke loose.

As we funneled through the dark bumpy bridge, it was like a rifle shot coming out the other side - except we had to make a hard right turn. Accelerations abounded - but still no definitive attacks. We were on dirt soon, and it got a little more wily at that point. The challenge was always in the transitions; turns, dirt-to-pavement, pavement-to-dirt, pavement-to-dirt-on-screaming-descent-to-hard-left, and so on. After 45-50 minutes of twitchy mid-pack braking, stuttering, accelerating, braking - I got tired of it and wove my way over to the right side of the road - aka "the gutter" - along a mild dirt road climb, and started accelerating towards the front. As we took a sharp right turn down this same dirt road, I was in good position as a powerful surge started building at the front. Good timing for me!


Hit one of the thousands of dirt road potholes that are part of the race, but hit it really hard. Everything seemed fine - water bottles in place, helmet still on, stem not snapped off... so I started pushing the pace. Being near the front (top 10-15 racers) of such a huge field is intimidating on the one hand, but thrilling and energizing on the other. As we hit the next stretch of stair stepping paved hills - I settled into a good groove and felt strong. The main peloton started re-forming but was now much less twitchy.

Shortly thereafter, I felt like I was slowing down... and sure enough my rear tire was slowly deflating. Ugh. Gently weaving my way to the right shoulder and back, ALL the way to the back, I waited for the wheel car to roll up. After an agonizing minute or two - I was back on the road but could not even see the back of our field! Not panicking - and realizing I may be doing a 2 hour time trial - I started riding as hard as I could without totally blowing up. Digging, digging, digging - hoping to see SOMEONE to work with, I realized I was burning through all my matches awfully quick. I eased up a bit - but then caught a glimpse of a guy in orange with the same bib number series I had - so he was also a CAT3 chump off the back and out in no mans land. I turned up the gas a bit - but every time the road went up, I ceased closing the gap and was over-revving.

This went on until I caught him - but was now cooked. Fried. Well-done. Tenderized. Oh! Just in time for the 40+ Masters Peloton to start creeping up on us... their lead car came up and said they were on our tails - and I noted I'd be sure to let them pass cleanly and not interfere (hoping to tag onto the back of THEIR group!) with them.

And so it went - riding at the back of this group - then losing contact, then picking up the odd assortment of blown racers like myself; the co-flatters and otherwise despondent and thrashed peers. Eventually I found 2-3 guys on the Colavita Team to rejoin, and we rode together for a while... Laurent had serious calf cramping issues, Todd was hanging tough - and I helped his skinny ass out in the long rolling open highway sections that had a relentless cross/head wind. When the hills kicked up again, Todd pedaled away and Laurent seemed to have disappeared.

After some screaming descents and more climbs - the mother of all ass-kicker climbs was upon me. Stage Hill Road is a mean old gal - but was at least smooth. A few weeks ago they had just re-graded it and there was loose gravel everywhere. Now it was just long and steep and cruel - but not so hard to not fall over.

Made it up to the top with just enough gas in the tank to pedal the last 6-7 km to the finish. As I was spinning these last km's - the CAT4 lead group of 10 guys or so went by and made me feel like I was going backwards. By the time I finished the race I had the full on cold clammy shakes and my stomach was queasy. Found my team mates and heard one fellow had clinched a top-ten finish, another stayed strong in the peloton, and the rest of us suffered our own personal hells.

It took longer to "race" the course this past weekend than it did to "ride" the course a few weeks ago... which means there is only one way to go - to the bar!