Thursday, December 30, 2010

So Let Me Explain

Ya it's been a while ...So bite me (ha, dog humour).  So not one of my best pics but I can't be on my A-game all the time.   I had a long CX season being the unofficial Team Ommegang-Syr Bike mascot, I been pissin in snow up to my chest for weeks already and then the holiday stresses finally got to me.   I had to blow off some steam ya know, let my hair down a little and next thing ya know things  got a little wild watching the Pinstripe Bowl.   I hope Drummroll don't notice I broke into his secret stash of Omme... dumbass thinks he's all clever keeping it in the downstairs closet out of sight.  He's too busy stuffing his face and whining about the BIG numbers on the bathroom scales lately to notice anyway.    I shouldn't bust on him too much, he's had a few bumps in the road this year and he still takes time to give me my favourite belly rub.

All in all it wasn't that bad of a year for me (aside from a couple minor incidents ... like those 2 skunk run-ins -- freakin little cocky, smelly bastards anyway -- and the new barf stain on the downstairs rug).   I got to run around in the woods alot, spent a few nights in a nice hotel, went on a wine tour, and kayaked alot this summer. The bonus was that I got to the beach this summer and play in the surf a bit and even camped out in a tent.  You haven't lived until you rolled in and gnawed on a rotting salty crab. 

Anyway, wanna wish y'all a Happy Humper Dog Holiday Season and tell ya to make sure to live it up in style! ... Doggy Style !!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Le Metier

While Drummroll cannot take credit for uncovering this (that goes to BIG Dave), you might wanna check out the latest post to Michael Barry's blog (see link below).

If you're asking who Michael is, well too bad for you (and you are not permitted to read further .. go do your homework).  First, he is one of the pure North American "good guys" in the pro peloton.  Secondly, the dude is a damn good writer.  Maybe you've caught his stuff in Velonews or have you ever heard of his book called Inside the Postal Bus?  This is the book that lets you take a peak of the craziness surrounding Lancemania a few year back in the US Postal days.

So Drummroll clicked on the link that took him to Michael's website (called Le Metier -- Google-translate it, you'll get it) and read "The Cross" blog post ... and then read a whole bunch more.  His writings on "cyclo-stuff" is like off-season cyclo-crack when it's single digits outside and dark at 4:00 pm ... you just can't get enough.  

Coincidentally, he also has a 2nd edition of a book also called Le Metier out.  It might be a little late to get it on your Holiday wish list but hey, you can try .. and if that don't work, maybe you'll get a gift card that you can use to get it yourself.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Commander-in-Chief 'Cross?

So there was some recent Ommegangster banter about President Obama getting a few stitches in his yapper as well as a suggestion that maybe he should consider something "safer" like CX.   After discussing the merits of a "Commander-in Chief" CX event, we decided we might have better luck trying to convince GW Bush to hold a CX event rather than Pres. Obama...... afterall, 'W' did ride MTB on occasion.  We also figured 'W' would like the PR with his new book as well as trying to raise funds and awareness for his memorial library.  This event would be like no other with a list of well known guest appearances by some well known politicos.-- just don't expect Laura to let W have a post race Omme.
Here's the first draft for planning:
-- USA Cycling license or NRA membership card required to race
-- Justice Roberts as the Head Referee/Official
-- A true "open" category following "don't ask/don't tell" criteria
-- Wealthy campaign donors get special access to the course
-- Red course tape would be on your right; blue course tape on your left

-- Dick Cheney would do the start gun
-- Howard Dean as the man in the donkey suit heckling people (yelling "woooyahhh" in a high pitch)
-- John Kerry & Al Gore as the barriers (Gore obviously the much stiffer/wooden-like barrier)
-- Course layout includes a run-up feature where you choose to go right or left -- right carries their own bike, left has another cyclist carry it for you
-- Mission Accomplished banner at the finish


And a little end-of-season limerick from our friend AJ M's wife ....

All you Sunday 'cross widows give a cheer.

The end of cyclocross season is here.
There are no more races.
So husbands trade places,
And toast your race wench with a beer!

Do some laundry, cook a meal, clean the house.
Remember you do have a spouse
Who supports your endeavors
And gets to ride, never
But complains no louder than a mouse.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Racin down Charlotte way

So Drummroll headed down south to combine a little work with some family holiday action but unfortunately missed Powercross in the process.  After a stop in Johnson City, TN for a little work, he arrived at his brothers Mon eve just outside Charlotte.  To make up for missing Powercross, he found a cx training series race held under the lights at a town park on Tues eve.  As he got dressed he realized that the mtb (cx) shoes were still in the garage back home.  In a true show of southern hospitality, the race organizer loaned his shoes & SPD pedals to Drummroll.  Drummroll found the pedals a little tough to clip into and struggled on a wicked off camber that popped up right after some barriers -- it was a repeated struggle to get clipped in while riding the offcamber.  Anyway, the southern boys can hammer too as Drummroll was a bit humbled despite the shoe situation (4th of 5 in his group).

But that wasn't the end of the racing action; the next venue on Friday was the Charlotte (Lowes) Motor Speedway (CMS).  The waiver was signed and the shoe situation was not an issue as this only required a street car (read rental car in this case).  Drummroll's brother hooked him up with a free pass for three laps at the track. Apparently this is a quasi-Black Friday tradition down Charlotte way.   In groups of about 10 street cars (including Mr. and Ms. Drummroll in a rental, his brother and family in their brand new Tahoe, and parents in ma's Buick) were allowed to circle the track at a pretty good clip (as far as street cars go).  We were able to briefly hit the 85-90 mph range a couple times... and you could even pass (and get passed) if you were being "careful" about it.   The banking was pretty wild to wind through and it was really fun.  Ms. Drummroll even said she wished she could drive which was a surprise cause racing/NASCAR is not her thing by any means.  Hope everyone had a great T-giving.   A little pic of the weekend action below: 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Power Cross

Yesterday was the inaugural edition of MaxPower's Power Cross. All in all they put on a great race with a tough course, good atmosphere, quick results, etc. As a late season race it essentially extended the CNY CX season by an extra week which was pretty sweet.

Rolling into the venue, it didn't take long to realize that the big hill was going to be a big deal. I got to the race well before the Masters race, so I could check out the course well in advance of my Open race. Tim O. and I hopped on the course and hit the hill section first. We slowly walked up the hill deciding that there was no benefit to running it an hour and a half before our race. After two recon laps we decided that there wasn't much left to see. There weren't any major technical sections and it was essentially going to be a big hill run up married to a tractor pull on the lower section. Actually, I was pretty pumped. When I have decent form, that kind of slog suits me. Mmmm tractor pull.

We watched the Masters race and it was amazing how slowly some people were going up the hill. Actually it was amazing how slowly everyone was going up the hill. Faso was moving pretty good but the hill was named after him for a reason.

The Open race started off fast on pavement and then we hit the mud. It was rough going. The mud was drive drain eating muck. Mud tires weren't much help since the mud was thick and caked right into them. Then we hit the hill. Now I knew why everyone was going so slowly in the Masters race. I'm a recovering runner, so I actually loved the hill and used it to do a lot of passing. That said, it was insane and a couple of times I found myself light headed and weaving off course. On the 5th or 6th lap up the hill I collected what little spit I could pull together and let it fly at the Faso Hill sign. I shot high by about 3 inches, but the crowd on the hill went nuts and it was probably my fastest run up.

I've been waiting for a REALLY muddy race all season. I sold my motorcycle for two identical bikes and I hadn't gotten to use both of them in one race yet. Well I got my monies worth yesterday. At the end of my first lap, Jeremy Clay from Bike Loft East asked if I wanted a bike change. I was too late that lap, but told him I'd catch him on the next lap. Changing bikes was life altering and my bike felt 5 pounds lighter which was a huge physical and mental boost. Two laps later another change, two laps later another change, two laps later another change. Jeremy and local good guy Fizz were awesome. They didn't have a hose, so Fizz was dipping bikes in a pond, Jeremy was cleaning the tires off with a Dura-Ace BB tool and I have no idea how they kept up with it all. They were moving fast and were coordinating the bike changes flawlessly. Fizz would grab the incoming bike and Jeremy had the clean bike ready to grab at full gas. It was a tremendous advantage over those that didn't have spare bikes and I almost felt like I was cheating. The good news for me was that I wasn't cheating and I don't feel that bad! 5th place in the open in a strong field.

I beat some solid guys and they clearly had a tough time with their bikes in the mud, but that's 'cross. Like I said last week, the course is neutral. The Power Cross course brought some challenges, and it was great to see some people rise to the occasion and have their best performances of the season. Jason D, Neil H and my teammate Adam all put the power to the mud and killed it. Course variety is good and hopefully the MaxPower team will make the race part of the annual schedule. The King has spirals in Greene, Kirkland had the sand pit, and Max Power has their signature hill. Oh yeah, Ommegang has beer. If the course was dry, Max Power might need to tighten up some of the turns, but in late November we're almost guaranteed the mud. I'm already looking forward to next year.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Awwh, sorry baby, it's me not you . . .

Well, if I said that in college, it was probably a load of crap and I was just trying to ditch a needy goth chick and trying to avoid being killed in my sleep. More recently it's been in reference to CX courses.

Twice this year I've gotten to courses, done my warm up laps and started the race thinking that the course was too hilly, too technical, too blah blah blah. After the first couple of laps though, I realized that it was me, not the course. The Dave Panella Memorial in Greene was a perfect example of it being me. I got to the race, rode the course, listened to a few people gripe about all of the turns and spirals and started to go to a dark place. I'd also been sick all week, so I was probably already half way to dark.

Anyway, the race starts, I slot in conservatively because I can't breath through my left nostril and I have no idea how my lungs are going to respond to the effort. The first couple of laps I'm a hot mess, I'm blowing lines and I almost crash. Then all of a sudden, the course gets tacky, I can breath and the lines start to come together. I also get extremely pissed that I'm riding like a 3 year old girl who's been mainlining pixie sticks all day (read spaz). I turn around to Bryan Blake and shout "Let's catch the final gentleman in front of us who on occasion make sweet love to their mothers." Or something to that effect. From that point on, the course is fine, I'm fine, and I more or less ride my ride.

My point to all of this rambling is to say this: The courses are neutral. Variety is good and if every course was like my home course, I'd be bored. I tell this story sometimes, so maybe some of you have already heard it, but here goes: The Jungle is Neutral. There's a book by that title. The bottom line is that the jungle isn't out to get you and neither is the 'Cross course. The jungle is what you make of it. Granted there are bad things around you, but snakes can bite you or snakes can be dinner. Rain can get you wet, but you have something to drink. That's the short version, but the bottom line is that if you ride the course thinking that it's out to get you, it probably will. If you ride the course knowing that it's neutral, you can turn the snakes into dinner. It took me a few laps to realize it, but the course was great. It was me.

Last but certainly not least, here's one last piece of advice to keep the course neutral. If the course builder uses flags instead of tape, you can follow Adam Myerson's rule on flags: "Flags are only a guideline." If they wanted you to color inside the lines, they'd have made the lines out of course tape. I'm assuming I wasn't alone in that sentiment given the number of flags that were run over. King Karl built us quite a castle out of flags this weekend. I did my best to stay within the lines. Seriously.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

2 F-Us

Being in the somewhat enviable/awkward position of either donating vacation time to the man or bugging out early from work at noon on a pretty dang nice mid-November day ... I chose the latter. 

Found myself rolling up Rte 13 past the falls on up to Caz -- west on 20, up the biggggg hill and drop back down towards Manlius.  Figured I'd take Salt Springs Rd on into Chittenango and was simply cruising away and got to the last sharp descent before Rte 5.  As I get half way down,  I note a car blowing out a driveway on my right not too far ahead and low and behold, they're not just pulling out in front of me, they're turning left up the hill.  I'm doing well over 30 mph, probably near 40 and the car (which had a Critter Sitters logo on it) is getting real close.  I shift my weight way back on the seat and grab a handful of brakes trying not to lock up the wheels in a skid while still getting maximum stopping power as I evaluated escape  routes/options vs. t-boning the car..  I was so hard trying to get slowed down I could not even take a  hand off the bars to indicate to the butthole in the Critter Sitters-mobile that they were #1 in my books.   The driver may have noted I was rather displeased with a few mouthed f-bombs directed their way.  So there we have it -- FU-1.

Oddly enough, FU-2 occured just minutes after FU-1.  After turning onto Rte 5 and cruising past the school into Chittenago, I take a left and head down the main drag.  Gee look, a green pick, and yes, he is actually gonna pull out from the left right in front of me -- I should note that at this point I'm moving quite briskly from the down hill into town coupled with a bit of left over adrenalin from FU-1.  Gee look, if I don't accelerate and thread the needle between green truck's front fender and the parked cars, I'll get smushed.  I did resist pounding on his hood at about 28 mph as I was too focused on just getting out of his way.  I'm not sure if green truck d-bag could read lips either but by the look on his face, I think got a basic understanding of what I was trying to express.  So that was FU-2.  

Call me crazy but did motorists forget that people ride bikes ... on the road .. even in November?  Be careful out there kids.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New Belgium

Tim O and I headed out to New Belgium this weekend for the Cycle-Smart International races in Northampton. Aside from an early season race a few years ago at Blunt Park, this was my first foray into the depth of racing that is the New England scene. Last year, Drumroll, Eric G. and Bryan B. took a trip and all returned with tales of fast deep fields.

After a season spent chasing upgrade points in the NYCROSS series last year, I've taken this year to travel around some and finally had the opportunity to hit up a Verge race. The obvious first: These races are huge, mature, highly organized and well attended. Everything about the Cycle-Smart International was top notch, but the purpose of this post isn't to write about what a great venue Noho was or what a great job they did with the race. I'm sure you can read about that elsewhere or simply take my word for it and check it out yourself next year.

The purpose of this post is to talk about the depth of talent in New England. Apparently I've led a very sheltered life here in CNY. I've always said that the further east you go, the deeper the talent pool goes and this weekend further illustrated the point. We certainly have some very strong racers, but they simply have more of them. Many more.

I didn't feel right about jumping in with the Elite's. I figure a bunch of those guys are racing professionally and I simply didn't want to get in the way. At best I would have been pack fill in that race and at worst I would have been in a pro's way, so Tim and I both opted for the Masters 35+ races. I knew the competition would be strong, but I really had no idea. Ignorance is bliss as they say. 46th on day 1 and 52nd on day 2. On day 1 I crashed pretty hard. On day 2 I rode well and felt much stronger. If someone had told me that I was in 52nd place I would have laughed in their face. I was riding hard, chasing people down and handled my bike much better than I did on day 1. Apparently everyone did.

I must admit that initially I was really bummed about my results. For good or bad I had 4 hours to think and talk about it with Tim O. on the way home. Below are my conclusions (not to be confused with excuses):

In CNY there are some very strong masters racers, but not a lot of them. The masters races locally tend to be raced by racers that are 35+ but with a wide variety of skill sets and talent. In New England the Masters races appear to be a completely different animal. There are 60+ guys, all of whom are strong. Most of them are Cat 1 or Cat 2's and they are only racing Masters because they are just one step off of the Elite pace. Both of my races included two current national champions. Most of them have been racing a long time, have great handling skills and can fly. If you're 35+ and new to the sport you can still race with the Cat 3's or 4's, so the people that choose to race 35+ are strong. Bottom line is these dudes are fast and I highly recommend making a trip to check out their scene if you haven't already.

It bears repeating that these are my conclusions, I could be wrong. Maybe someone that lives in New Belgium would have a different perspective. Maybe I just suck, but I'd like to think that it's the overwhelming depth of talent the area has. It's evident that I still have a lot of room for improvement in the bike handling department, and I still need to get used to starting a race with 60 fast strangers. I know this, I'm not done with New England . . .

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mental Gymnastics

This is a post that has been rattling around my brain for a few weeks now. Between racing, training, working on bikes, working, and trying to keep things borderline acceptable on the home front, time has conspired against me. A lunchtime post will have to do. My posts tend to be cynical or humorous at times, so I’ll forewarn you that this one is meant to be more serious. Motivational even.

I was introduced to the concept I’m about to explain at work this year. For those that don’t know, I sell crack to kids, and we’re always looking for ways to improve sales by improving ourselves first.

In any event, the concept is this: There are three kinds of people in life, in this case three kinds of racers.

There are Winners. Winners may or may not be genetically gifted, but they have the psychology of a winner and they tend to perform well week in and week out. They know how to win, they win regularly and they expect to win. Regardless of who is on the start line, they know and BELIEVE they have a shot at winning.

There are Non-Winners. These are people that are there every week, but are always saying things like “it’ll be fun until I get dropped.” They have no expectations whatsoever. For the most part they don’t care who beats them. Don’t get me wrong, maybe they are there for exercise or camaraderie, but they will never win. They probably won’t even try to out sprint a buddy. They don’t believe they should do well, and they won’t.

Then there are the At leasters. Most of us fall into this category and we have the most to gain from changing our mindset. We’re decent racers, genetically middle of the road, but we tend to let our minds limit our performance. We may win or place in an occasional race, or we may get blown out in a race, but we tend to finish mid pack. When we win a race we’re super pumped and start to dream big. The problem is that after another race or two our mind gets the best of us and we slip back into our old mindset of mediocrity. We start to think “I’m good, but not that good.” The opposite occurs when we get blown out. “I not great, but I shouldn’t get beaten by Insert Name.” Your mind saves you from complete loserdom, but just enough to get your mind and body back to your comfort zone.

I find it interesting that when I race with people I know, there are certain people that I accept losing to and people that I refuse to lose to. Winners never accept a loss. Non-Winners accept nothing else. Those of us in the middle ground are the ones that need to talk ourselves up. Channel your inner Stuart Smalley if you have to. Treat everyone in front of you like they are someone you should never lose to. If a dude you don’t know passes you, he is the enemy. He’s a Non Winner and doesn’t deserve to be in front of you. There is no room for complacency in ‘Cross and the CX gods know that I have had moments of complacency. Bad days are bad days and there will be some, but accepting mediocrity will get you exactly that. Mediocrity. The mind of a racer can be a fragile thing, but at the end of the day if you win or lose a CX race, no one at work or the grocery store will be asking for your autograph. Our drive to race is motivated by something entirely different, so unless you’re already a winner, change your mindset and go for the win. Sometimes it will take mental gymnastics to trick yourself into believing that you deserve it, but whatever it takes.

Race fast . . . take chances.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

WTF? Tour de Faso

The dude kicks my butt on nearly a weekly basis and now he gets his own race?

Preparations for the big show: Tour du Faso

Monday, October 18, 2010

Shoulda Seen This A Comin From a Mile Away


A mile away your ask?  More like from miles away.  Actually Drummroll predicted this one rather well about 6 weeks ago when his work schedule started to fill up rather quickly.  He explained at the time that he'd suck it up and do his job but that travelling like this tends to end up with him getting sick.  So let's recap shall we?  Since the last week of Sept, he's been seeing alot of steering wheel and airport time:  Kokomo, IN, an unplanned stayover in Charlotte, Chicago, Bethlehem, PA and Uncasville, CT.  And still got to a CX event every weekend as well as help put on the CX @ Brewery Ommegang event.  The wheels started to come off somewhere near Bethlehem, PA last week when his throat caught on fire and that all to familiar feeling of general "ick".  By the time he got to CT, he was shivering under the covers at 7:30 at night knowing all too well that racing Syracuse was probably not in the cards.  He got home Thurs eve and was at the doc Fri am and got a Rx for Azithromycin.   As of today, he's hoping he's turning the corner but still has a nasty cough.  The boy's also getting a bit stir crazy and probably about one more f-bomb or other off-color inuendo away from Ms. Drumroll putting a pillow over his face when he next  falls asleep.  And what adds insult to the matter is that his recover beverage consumption has only been in the form of shots ... of NyQuil.  No Ommegang in almost 2 weeks!  Not the mid-CX season break he wanted but look out, he might actually come into his best form of the year for all the local December CX races. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

How's the upgrade treating you?

I've been asked that a lot lately. I thought I'd put up a quick post to answer the question. If you judge based on results, the upgrade has been an unmitigated failure. If you compare my results and times against the people I was racing with last year, things are far less bleak.

In short, the 1/2/3 races are fast. Holding my own in a 3/4 race wasn't always easy, but sometimes it was. Holding my own in a 1/2/3 race is never easy. Not getting lapped by Justin Lindine is never easy. In fact I don't think I've even achieved that to date. Guys like Lindine, Cory Burns, Al Donahue, Wayne Bray and Dan Staffo are simply riding at another level. It's doubtful that I'll ever get to mix it up with them, but I do intend on holding my own or at least not embarrassing myself. To bend my mind around the fact that some of them might get lapped by pro's is mind boggling.

I was admittedly discouraged after my first few races. At this point I've come to grips with the fact that I was pack fill a few years ago and I still loved CX. I'm pack fill again and I still love CX. Sunday was a particularly dark day for me. I didn't want to race and nearly made a U-turn on the Thruway. I started the race very passively and got caught behind a crash. I quickly found myself in last place, and if it wasn't for a few friends cheering for me, I might have rolled into the pits, grabbed my wheels and headed for the car. I've never quit a CX race, but I was close. After a few laps though I started realizing that the Full Moon Vista folks had turned the Cobb's Hill course into a legitimate and sweet CX course. I didn't get to race there last year, but this year's course was a huge improvement over what I had seen two years ago. It took us a few years to dial in the Ommegang course, so I get that it can take some time to dial in a new course. It also helped that the race announcer kept calling out my name and Ommegang/Syracuse Bicycle every lap. He was also calling out a few of the local riders that I was starting to pick off. At that point I had no choice but to enjoy the suffering.

After the race, Wayne B. told me I was a head case. I had to agree. Getting to a Cat 2 was a lot of work and holding my own will be a lot of work. I'll no longer start my races like a wuss, and since my form is coming around, hopefully I'll see more of the middle of the pack and less of the back. Either way, it's CX season and there will be beer so it's all good.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Get Your Ath to the Canal Path

Just a simple suggestion ... get to the Erie Canal towpath and ride the canal.  Maybe I'm biased or jaded (well yes, probably both amongst numerous other character flaws) but riding the canal as the leaves are turning is the best.  I love the crunch of the leaves and the scenery.  You absolutely cannot go wrong with putting in an easy hour or two just cruising the flats on your EZ day.   And even if you need to spice things up, you can pop up into Green Lakes or even Poolsbrook for some harder efforts or bike handling challenges.  CX bikes are probably the best alternative for the experienced cycling dork but a MTB is not a bad alternative either.  You might swing the road rig but you're taking a risk and you'll wanna make sure you have some wider tires and be diligent to miss the little things that can cause a flat. 

In the end, just get there on your EZ ride night.  The towpath is a little gem for the cyclo-dork so make sure you're getting in on it. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Welcome to the back of the pack . . .

"Worst Race Ever"
- Comic Book Guy

After some success last year and a Cat 2 Upgrade, I decided it was time to get into the proverbial deep end of the swimming pool for 2010. So far it's been a rough start. I'm not dead yet, but the speed at which Justin Lindine lapped me yesterday in my first UCI race was a good indication of how much faster I need to get. I'm comfortable with the fact that winning is out of the question, but my goal of staying on the lead lap was quickly dashed. All in all, the Ellison course wasn't exactly the ideal place for my foray into the deep end. The course was custom built to showcase my weaknesses. I'm not exactly superstitious, but I wasn't at all surprised when they handed me my numbers. Lucky 13.

I must have looked pretty defeated after the race because nega-coach actually sent me an e-mail giving me positive feedback and encouraging me to stick with the UCI races. Hopefully soon I won't look so defeated and he'll be back to yelling at me to suck less.

I'm very much looking forward to heading out to New England a little later in the season to redeem myself on some of the more classic CX courses.

On a more positive note, the new Stevens bikes are awesome. Better fit, better geometry with a lower BB, and the carbon is super smooth. I still need to get a few more races on them, but my initial reaction is very positive. I'm railing turns where the old Ridley's felt like big tall unicycles.

This weekend is Ommegang. Hope to see everyone there!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Stevens Carbon Team

One of these:

Equals two of these:

I figure I rode 30 miles on my motorcycle this season. It's a fair trade.

PS - the Stevens are sweet. More to come on that later.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dinosaur BBQ Supports CX ... I Think

Saw this in one of the shall we say "stand-up fixtures" in the guys room at Dinosaur BBQ (sorry if you're not from the 'Cuse) .... and yes, I thought twice about pulling out a camera phone in the men's room at a quasi-biker bar but this needed to be documented.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cycle Smart CX Camp Recap 2010

I'm back from my third year at Adam Myerson's cyclocross camp. It seems like every year I learn more. There was never really a question about whether or not I was going this year, but I did wonder if I'd get as much out of it this year as I did last year. In short, yes I did. Possibly more. Early on the first day I decided I would count the number of times I learned something new or picked back up on something I'd forgotten or been doing wrong. Less than an hour into day one I was up to three game changing items and I decided that it would be pointless to keep counting.

Before I get into the camp itself, it's worth restating, as I've done on more than a few occasions in this blog, that people should be going to this camp. It blows my mind that people would spend money on expensive new bikes, tubular wheels, sealed cable systems, etc. without taking the time or money to go to Adam's camp first. Perhaps I should have posted this entry before Adam's camp, but I promise you that his camp will make you faster than any piece of equipment you could buy. The seconds per lap you will pick up with better technique and strategy will far outweigh any equipment benefits you could gain.

As an example, Bryan Blake and I both attended last years camp. I had my best season ever, won a race and got my Cat 2 upgrade. Bryan also had his best season ever, and lots of people noticed. In fact at one point I was talking to a mutual friend and he said "what the heck happened to Bryan Blake, I used to drop that guy all the time, now every time I turn around he's right behind me." It's worth mentioning that Bryan not only went to the camp, he also became a Cycle Smart client. Before anyone accuses me of being a paid spokesperson, I not only paid for the camp, but I also bought Ommegang as a gift for Adam. The least I could do is buy the guy a beer!

Back to the camp. Adam moved back to a two day format this year which was great. Two days really gives everyone time to dial everything in and then practice it again the next day. In fact Adam even managed to have the weather be sunny and dry on Saturday and wet and muddy on Sunday. The man has skills. The weather changes were dumb luck, but being able to practice the techniques in both conditions was invaluable.

As a bonus this year, Jeremy Powers was there for half of the day on Saturday and all day Sunday. Jeremy offered great advice, was pretty damn funny, and watching him bunny hop the barriers in person was really cool. He also brought some give aways from his sponsors. I missed out on the free Zipp 303's, but you'll need to see my sweet new Cannondale. I'm pretty sure he said I could keep it . . .

The camp started Friday night with a low key gathering at a local shop. There was a lot of informal discussion about bike fit among other things. It's always interesting to hear a pro's perspective, and Adam in particular has spent A LOT of time thinking about the subject and experimenting with his own bike fit.

Saturday the training really started and Adam, Jeremy and Al Donahue worked with us in groups. All three of them provide their own unique perspective which was really interesting. In addition to mounts, dismounts, barriers, carrying, etc. we also got to work on some bumping drills. If you and I are on the last lap, coming into the final turns side by side, trust me, you'll wish you had gone to camp! Saturday night we went back to the shop, ate some good food and drank some of Belgium's finest while Adam gave a presentation on training for 'cross.

Sunday brought rain, more practice, and lots of sliding in the mud. We worked on starts, held a little race and then regrouped for some Q&A. Unfortunately I needed to head to Long Island for an early meeting Monday, but at least Jeremy Powers gave me some Sport Beans before I left.

I could go into a lot more detail on the camp, but those are Adam's trade secrets and you should just go. One of the things that really sets Adam apart from some of the other pro's is his ability continuously refine his techniques and strategy. Adam has admitted that he doesn't necessarily have the power numbers as some of the other pro's, but he's found ways to hang in there by using his brain as much or more than his body. That doesn't mean that he isn't on his bike 20-30 hours a week, but I suspect that his ability to use his mind is what has kept him in the game.

Some of the best athletes in the world have no idea how they do what they do. Great race car drivers or ball players typically make lousy instructors or coaches because they have no clue how they win. A guy like Adam does, and that has made him a great teacher. Hopefully next season I'll remember to re-post this before Adam's camp, but I guess it's fine with me if you don't go. That definitely increases the likelihood of my kicking your A$$ on the 'cross course.

See you at the races . . .

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Today is Aug 12 .. What Are You Doing a Month From Now?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Part of the 2010 Cyclocross Series.
For series info see

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Wanted ... Two Cents

So here we go boyz & girlz ... some real, honest to goodness CX related content. 

If you you're reading this (yes, all 3 or 4 of you -- not sure if Humperdog counts as a reader), you are likely starting to have more CX related items creeping into your stream of conciousness as we are within reach of the first few CX events of the season.  So my CX pre-occupation seems to be tires at this moment.

I picked up someGrifo Fangos late last year but never really did get to race on them (not counting Black Fly in June).  This was my leap into the land of CX tubularity and I am struggling with what I want to put on my other tubular wheelset.  In clincher land, I liked the Michelin Muds (IMO, perhaps the best all around CX clincher) for most races and the Michelin Jets when things were dry and firm (i.e., not often).  I should also note I am a fan of the Maxxix Mimos (clincher) as well but have not run them in a while.

So I'm looking for some edumacational advice or suggestions for the "other" tires.  (And no, I'm not quite ready to go Dugast at this point -- It's bad enough my CX bike is probably worth more than my car as is.)

So speak up faithful reader(s) .... advice, opinions, call-outs, pre-season heckles and off-color comments encouraged.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Plea for Help

Yo,   Drumroll's liver here.  Hey, yeah you, shhh, keep it down (plz), I don't want him to get worked up -- he's sensitive about these things .. well that and that umm, well other thing.  Seriously though, I need some serious help.  I don't know what the heck happened this past weekend but he's workin' me way too hard.  I cannot keep this pace up.  Even the kidney & bladder are getting pissed.

It started Friday with some kind of freakin desert wine .. nothing crazy for a Friday eve but this is where it started.

Saturday all hell broke loose.  He's what I dealt with ... Ommegang BPA, Ommegang Zuur, Ommegang Tripel, 2004 Ommegang 3 Phils, 3007 Ommegang 3 Phils, Ommegang Cup 'o Kyndness, Maredsous Blonde, Maredsous Tripel, Allagash Larry, Liefman's Cuvee Brut, and something from Brouwerji Palm I can't even try to spell, pronounce ... or remember....and keep in mind,  we're not talking Coors Light here kids -- this is good ol fashion high test Belgian elixir.

And then the jackarse gets up and decides to do a freakin mountain bike race the next morning... and he ends up doing quite well ... until his chain broke.  I prepared for the worst (he was kinda bummed) but he just went home completely skipping the free beers.  Well he must have stewed for a while cause next thing I know he's double fisting a Middle Ages Wit and Wailing Wench at their anniversary party in the 'Cuse.   After helping his mate finish her Wailing Wench (ironic), he's handed a Druid Fluid.  Thinking thank goodness he's done, he heads home, orders up a pizza and guess what he washes it down with .. a Sam Adams from the fridge.   Aughhh.

I know the Tour de France is over and those guys are probably knocking back a few on the beach but what's the deal here?  It's not like he even watched any of the tour.  While I am not a big fan of all the extra labor involved, I do have to hand it to the lad for his choices ... he at least is finding the good stuff.  So tomorrow is a rest day and I dearly hope he considers his beat up liver in this great rest formula as well.  

Monday, July 19, 2010


So perhaps you're in a mid-summer racing or training slump?  Maybe need something to take to the beach on vaca?  Or just have a compulsion to read anything & everything about cycling?  Pick yourself up a copy.  It's a short read and perhaps just a tad more cerebral than your typical cycling lit but if you're into bike racing, it's a pretty cool story.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

In Myerson we trust

I've been waiting for Adam to tell me what I think about the new UCI rules. Thankfully now I know. Actually, there's already been some chatter on the team listserv and to a large extent I think we're all on the same page. I think the most important part of all this is that CX is close enough to talk about . . .

Adam's perspective:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

DNF Post Mortem -- Attack / Counterattack

Disclaimer... the term "racing career" is used loosely and intended for illustrative purposes in the discussion below.  References to Drummroll's "attack" are also to be used loosely and intended for illustrative purposes.  

So Drummroll notches up, if his memory serves him correctly, the 2nd DNF of his "racing career" that was purely due to -- shall we say -- his inability to hang in there physically and mentally (not the result of a crash or mechanical).    Now mind you that this alleged "racing career" spans a fair cross-section (CX pun intended) of all sorts of cycling, a batch of running events and triathlons in all shapes and sizes. 

Coming from a triathlon sort of background, there simply was no giving up, you just needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other -- even if it meant walking at times.  A flashback to IM Florida sees Drummroll with a pretty darn respectable swim (1:06 for 2.4 miles), a decent bike where he even held back (112 mi in 5:18) and then the run ... can you say vomitarrhea -- a 5:31 marathon.   Drummroll was so messed up he was delerious and staggering part way through the run and was scared he'd get pulled.  After sitting at an aid station for 20-30 minutes painfully watching others run and shufle by, he decided he was really hungry and grabbed a small vanilla Oreo type cookie from the aid station and washed it down with a coke.  Mmmmm, he ate a couple more, another coke and wow, ....."I'm alive".  It was weird -- in a manner of ten minutes or less, he got a running and put in his fastest 10K split of the day for the last 1/4 or so of the marathon.

So enough about the good 'ol days (sorry, IM is a long event, hence a long story) .... so Drummroll hits the Corning Cat 4 race at Watkins Glen this past weekend and on lap 2 puts in a modest attack on a small rise and drew out a few guys and the pack closed in and it all settled in.   A few corners later on the same lap, Drummroll put in a hard attack on a sweeping downhill followed by another rise.   The pack chased hard and caught him part way up the rise except they didn't settle in this time -- they kept on going ... hard.   Drumroll, now in sag climb mode, suddenly realizes he's sagged right off the back of the pack.  A full lap of chasing hard only saw the disappear further up the road.  Drummroll cashed it in to return to the car to bask in the stench of a DNF.

So the lesson learned, after some discussion with NegaCoach Wayne and others was that yes, the first attack was a proper move.  A counter attack was also a proper move .. except Drummroll should not counter attack his own original attack. 

So there you have it cycling fans, dorksters, hipsters, wannabe's, afficianados and all around know it alls, it all boils down to this .. Drummrolls racing guidance 101:

(1) Counter attacking an attack = good move
(2) Counter attacking your own attack = bad move

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Disc Brakes for CX?


UCI allows disc brakes for cyclo-cross
The International Cycling Union (UCI) has approved disc brakes for competition in the 2010-’11 cyclo-cross race season. The ban was lifted via a newly issued document entitled, ‘Rule Amendments for Title 1,’ which was posted to USA Cycling’s website late Friday morning.

Full article here:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

100 Minutes on The Hour

So Drummroll decides its time to mix it up the week after the Black Fly.   Off on Monday, the TNTS on Tuesday w/the boys, a hard strength & core training session on Wednesday, an up tempo hilly ride on Thursday and then 100 minutes on The  Hour on Friday.    The Windsor Hour that is ...... a SS fixie Drummroll picked up over a year ago.   A basic, no frills steel fixie with a flip flop hub that you can pick up for like $300 shipped.

It had been a while since The Hour got out of the garage and the nuances of the SS quickly reminded Drummroll of his Weds strenghth training workout (can you say sore hammies?).  The cool thing about the fixie is that on a 100 minute ride, you pedal for 100 minutes.  There is no coasting.  Any attempt to stop pedalling almost rips your legs off (the same way the spin bike might if you've been there, done that).  In some ways, it's like riding for 100 minutes and maybe getting in the equivalent of a 120 minute ride on a "regular" road rig.

It is a track bike by nature so you don't wanna be attempting the Rte 20 hills or Gulf Rd but it is a great workout on the rollers along and near Rte 5 on the east end of The 'Cuse.  

If you get an opportunity to try a fixie, you should give it a go.  Some pros train on them periodically to smooth out their pedal stroke and to provide a "riding/functional strength" type workout.  If you get your hands on one, give Drummroll a shout,   Afterall, it's fun, it might make you a better cyclist and imagine, you might even enjoy yourself in something that is familiar yet new at the same time.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Black Fly Challenge Race Recap

Team Ommegang - Syracuse Bicycle was out in full force again for The Black Fly Challenge. This years addition brought wet roads and sand.

I think we had about 8 gangsters there to represent. Drummroll, AJ and I went up to Indian Lake Friday night to avoid an early morning commute. If you've never been to Indian Lake, its best suited for relaxing, so that's what we did. We drank a couple of Ommegang's finest, watched a little TV, jumped on an unsecured WiFi network for a little iPod e-mail, and got some rest. A few loud kids kept AJ up, and Drummroll spent some time trying to keep a mosquito out of his ear, but otherwise we got some decent sleep.

In the morning, Drummroll and I hit up the local diner for some eggs and carbs, and AJ stayed behind to drink a couple of bottles of Starbuck's finest and eat some Cliff Bars or something. Drummroll and I even signed a petition to help the fine folks of Indian Lake secure a new grocery store since apparently the local store had recently gone belly up.

Having worked out some automobile logistics in advance, we headed down to Inlet for packet pick up. As luck would have it, it was raining pretty hard. Close to pouring. When we got to Inlet it was looking pretty bleak. I'm always up for a challenge, but now I had to start thinking hard about what clothing I had packed, what to wear, how many layers, etc. Then, about 20 minutes before the race started, the rain stopped. Perfect . . . I think.

Quick warm up, second guess tire pressure a few times, and then line up. For what it's worth, I ran about 53lbs. I know some dudes went for closer to 70, but I thought I'd shoot for closer to CX, but with enough air to smack a rock at 35mph without too much fear of pinch flatting. Looking around at the crowd as we lined up, it was clear that this was a deeper field than last year. I was still optimistic, but thoughts of another 2nd place were tempered by more realistic aspirations of a top 10. Apparently Dan Staffo from Handlebars decided to check out what the Black Fly had to offer, and I made the mistake of talking team friend Tim O into going. That pretty much meant that barring a mechanical, first and second were pretty much wrapped up.

Right from the gun, Dan started driving the pace. It was clear that he wasn't going to wait around for the race to unfold. By the top of the first hill, there were only 4 of us. Thankfully things eased up a little and some guys got back on in time for the second hill. At that point, Dan got away and eight of us were left behind working pretty well as a group. So far the rain and wet weren't much of a factor. As we pressed on, keeping Dan in sight, it was clear that some guys in our group were strong, and others, myself included were drooling on ourselves. As we started to roll through the flat sections with wet sand, I started to worry that my brakes were rubbing. Sadly they weren't, it was just incredibly tough going. Riding in the wet sand was WAY harder than the previous years in the dry loose stuff. I'd also decided to roll with the Michelin Mud's instead of the Jets, and although I may never know, I think they created more traction than I really wanted.

At a certain point, our group started to splinter and Tim O, Eric Grimm, and Randy Hadzor built up a small lead on the rest of us. Next thing I knew, the rest of my group had built up a small lead on me. At this point, I knew I was in 9th and I had no choice but to ride within myself or risk blowing up, so I watched my teammates AJ and Fred roll up the road. Now I'm asking myself, can I hang on for 9th? A few minutes later, I see Eric Grimm changing a flat. Now I'm in 8th.

As I rolled along, I saw a couple of guys coming up on me, so I eased up, popped a gel pack and waited for them to catch me. Thankfully, it was Drumroll and a beast of a man named Paul from Battenkill-United on an MTB. As Drumroll passes me, he says "This dude is really strong." That was all I needed to hear. I recovered pretty quickly, and got to work with both of them. Drummroll made some rolling introductions, and I let Paul know that he was in first place in the MTB division. None of us had a reason for any team BS, etc. so we just kept on working. I felt pretty good about my top 10.

Once we hit the pavement, I turned around and saw Eric Grimm literally flying down the road. He quickly caught us and we jumped his wheel. At this point, I knew that AJ and Fred were in the next group up the road, so we just hung onto Eric's wheel for dear life. He dragged us right up to AJ, Fred, and another dude, and then right up to Randy Hadzor. Now we had a group of eight with three guys off the front. Getting dropped or blowing the sprint would mean 11th place. The group kept the pace high, and with a little less than a mile to go, Fred hit the gas and opened up a small gap. He was quickly brought back though, so I took a go at it thinking 4th would be pretty sweet. Sadly Drummroll and Eric quickly caught me, but luckily Drummroll held off Eric for fourth and I was pretty happy to hang onto sixth. AJ took 7th, and Fred took 11th after cramping. Four guys in the top 11 ain't bad. Fred deserves a special mention since he was on my old Trek XO1. It's a great winter bike, but I wouldn't want to drag it over all of those hills.

All in all, the team had a great showing. Team friend Tim O took second, and I think everyone was fairly pleased with their performance. There's no question that we all raced hard and left it all on the road (or wet sand as it were).

The race organizers did another awesome job with the course, packet pickup, chip timing, etc. Those guys really get it, and I'm sure that our team will continue to flock to their race.

After the finish, Mrs. Skinny hustled me off to Lake Placid where she was running the half marathon with some friends of ours the next day. Despite an injury, she did well and I consumed my weight in beer. Great weekend.

PS - somehow I ended up being listed as the first place "beginner" in the results. I know I was in the CX category when I picked up my packet so I'm not sure what happened there. I don't want anyone thinking I'm a sand bagger. I did clean enough sand out of my drive train, hair, ears and eyes to fill a bag though . . .

Friday, June 11, 2010

Black Fly

Bike, spotless. Legs, opened. Weather, iffy. I've never done the Black Fly in the rain. That could be fun. That could be 'cross like. Jets or Muds . . . that's the only unanswered question.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cross Season Already?

A few of the boys came out last night for a pre-Black Fly shakedown. If that doesn't get you thinking about CX season, nothing will. We bombed around the Canal Path, Green Lakes and Poolsbrook. Great riding, great teammates, happy to be on the CX rig.

After a few seasons on the Ridley's, I think I'm ready for a change. I've been scouring the internet in my free time looking for any preliminary info on the 2011 bikes. Last season I was certain I wanted a carbon Stevens, but having put a decent dig in my carbon road bike I started thinking maybe I should just go with something more durable. It looks like the new Redline Team's could be pretty sweet. The details are still a little sketchy, but it sounds like they will have carbon seat stays much like my Ridley's. I know that I want something with a lower BB than my Ridley's since sometimes I feel like I'm riding a unicycle. Of course then I found this today during lunch . . .

That might be a game changer. The Gin and Trombones is already on the short list, but the Full Tilt Boogie might be the answer for carbon and durability. I might need to get to selling some stuff on e-bay to afford two frames, but where there's a will . . .

In any event, they won't be available until August, so I have plenty of time to ponder my future frames. Suggestions are welcome.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Books, Beers & Back?

Books & Beers:   Drumroll recently polished off Joe Parkin's second book about life as a pro cyclist.  In this book Joe returns to the US and gets involved with teh domestic racing scene on the road, CX and even gets some mixed results in MTBing.  While perhaps not as riveting as Dog in a Hat, it is a good read for a cyclo-dork.  Drumroll also recently polished off Brewery Ommegang's Belgian Pale Ale (BPA) seasonal/specialty brew.  While Drumroll has never been a big fan of pale ale's, this wasn't too bad.  The Belgian chacacters and complexity were notable when compared to other (lesser) pale ales.

 Back? ..... well maybe and probably or somewhere in between.  Is Drummroll's back holding up well enough to ride and race?  The answer to that is yes, so far so good.  But is he "back"?  Well, maybe, sorta, kinda.  He actually raced the Race 4 Hope this past weekend.  He finished "ok" but realized toying with the front end of a local club ride is a little different than hanging on the front end of a race.  Back racing but perhaps not quite back to the level of previous years.  Maybe a few more races and we'll see if he's really back.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sh*t My Dad Says

If you're a 'bit' off center (like I) and are in need of a smile or chuckle ... I present to you a bit of Twitter excellence in the raw:

Need to be convinced .. here's a few tweets to savor:

"A parent's only as good as their dumbest kid. If one wins a Nobel Prize but the other gets robbed by a hooker, you failed."

"Pressure? Get married when you want. Your wedding's just one more day in my life I can't wear sweat pants."

"I like the dog. If he can't eat it, or %^(* it, he pisses on it. I can get behind that."

Yeah it may be a little raw but you will probably be giggling like a school girl or snorting out loud once you get reading these.... And there's even a new book I just might have to pick up. 


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

You can't do two jobs . . .

and expect to do either of them well. I just read a post from Adam Myerson and it more or less summed up Sunday's races. In my case, the the only thing at stake was a $20 prize and pride. Thankfully I don't race for a living so making the wrong choice is low risk.

More on that later. It seems like most of my posts start with an apology for the lack of posts. The good news is that I've been riding and racing my bike a lot. I already have 5 races in the legs this season which is an early start for someone that tends to start late and focus on CX. As I mentioned in my last post, I was headed for Battenkill. It went pretty well. 14th place out of 105 starters. Not exactly a stellar performance but considering how seriously some people take that race, I'm pleased with the result. I know there was a lot of debate over whether or not Battenkill was worth the price of admission. I must admit that initially I had no interest in paying for the experience. That said, I had decent early season form and figured I'd might as well check it out. Without going into a lot of detail, they did an outstanding job with the race. The volunteers were awesome, the course was very well marked, they were highly organized and there were port-o-johns as far as the eye could see.

By the end of the race I started to feel like the Grim Reaper. It seemed like every time I passed people and felt like I'd moved to the middle of the pack, I'd turn around and see the wheel van. We'd climb a hill, I'd move up 10 spots and start feeling pretty good about myself for moving up. A minute later I'd turn around and no one would be behind me. Kind of an odd day in that regard. I even finished with the wheel van right behind me in a sprint. Ironically I didn't have any wheels in there . . .

Fast forward to last weekend and it was time for the Binghamton Circuit Race. Typically this is my first or second race of the year. In previous years I've tucked in, held on for dear life with questionable fitness and sprinted to the finish. This year I was unsure how to approach the race. My fitness is at an all time high for April, so I had some options. Option 1 - sit in and save my sprint. Option 2 - get to the front and hope to get in a break. There were two races, so I ended up trying both options. In the first race I covered one break knowing I had some fast teammates in the race, but other than that I sat in and hoped to set myself up for a decent sprint. Coming into the sprint I was in great position, but it had rained the whole race and the guy to my right started sliding into me and I got off the gas on an uphill sprint. I was in the drops and in the wrong gear to wind it back up, so getting it going again wasn't really an option.

Race number two was the opposite race. Right before the race I ran into a local Cat 3 and he excitedly told me we were headed right to the front. We were going to try and get in every break or start one. He said we could sit in and get popped or crash in a sprint, or we could try and get a break going and better our odds. That's exactly what we did. Actually, he was so excited about our plan that we didn't realize that we'd lined up behind the Cat 5 race and we had to chase onto our race. Once we caught on we got right to the plan. We bridged to a handful of breaks and got into a two lap break with 7 to go. Unfortunately no one joined us, so we were doomed for failure, but nothing ventured as they say. By the time I needed to wind up a sprint I was out of matches, but as Adam said . . . you can't do two jobs. Thankfully one of my teammates had gone with option 1 in race number two, after he'd gone for broke in race number one, and he grabbed third place in his second race of the day. Keeping all of this straight?

Next stop Hollenbeck. I haven't decided on option 1 or 2 yet.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Horner Dork

So bite me, Drumroll is a Horner fan.  Some love 'em, some hate 'em.  The dude just pulled off the biggest win of his career a couple weekends ago .. and got a cool hat in the process.  If he ain't on the "Shack's" TdF squad, Lance ought to concede now.

It started at the now defunct San Fran Grand Prix in 2001.  Horner, a member of Team Saturn at the time, won the San Fran Grand Prix  in '01 where Drumroll had scammed some press credentials.  Drumroll thought it was cool that this pro dude was so freakin happy to win a race.  He even paused to have a pic taken with Ms. Drumroll and when the flash didn't work, he even suggested taking another pic. 

Always a good interview, sometimes too honest but tells it like it is and he has dabbled in CX for sheets & giggles on occasion.  Drumroll even recalls seeing him at CX nats in the same year he rode a full Euro campaign.  When Drumroll asked him why he would do CX nats after a Pro Tour campaign he replied, I just love riding and racing my bike.  What's not to like?

Go Chris !

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sore groin and numb hands: related?

I did a doubletake as I perused Velonews at lunch today.  Yup, there under the "Coaches Panel" section,  it did say that ...  Sore groin and numb hands: related?

And before you ask, No,   Drumroll has not experienced this (at least not since he was about 13).

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Good Day has Come & Gone

As many have come to realize, Drummroll is a hurtin pup.  Maybe age or just bad luck caught up w/him cause his back has been one MoFo for several weeks now.    Riding/training highlights include about a cumulative total of 2 hours on the bike in the last 3 weeks.  So Drumroll is a bit unstable without his normal training routine and looking for some good in it all ....

So he watched Chris Horner kick some serious arse today in Spain this am.  Biggest win of his career ...Drumroll rather pleased as he's a Horner fan from back in 2001 where Horner won the San Fran Grand Prix where Drumroll fanagled press creds and actually met Horner.  In celebration of Horner's win, Drumroll survives a 30 min EZ spin trainer session with no pain early pm (sweet!).

Mid pm Drumroll gets an update that the Ommegangsters represented well at Battenkill (wish I was there, Ok not really but awesome job guys).

Late pm SU LAX dominates Princeton ... all is good (including the Syrah Drumroll is ummm, obtaining antioxidant benefits from).  Later pm, Sabres win to solidify their playoff spot (all hail grape derived antioxidants).

And even later pm pre-bedtime check of the cyclo-websites shows ... holy crap, the rumors were true, it's finally here ... Joe Parkin's new book.  Thank freaking the powers that be I saved an Amazon gift card from Christmas.    First, if you haven't read "A Dog in a Hat" by Parkin, you're missing out and should be prohibited from riding your bike and drinking a Belgian beer of any sort until you do so.  And I'd be remiss not to give props to Joe's blog at 6 Years in a Raincape.   His new book is called "Come and Gone".    Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to to Amazon to place an order.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Battenkill or Bust

It would figure that after lots of procrastination, you'd get two posts in one day. See Drumroll's post below. Sorry for the lack of posts. The good news is that I've been riding my bike a lot. At least a lot relative to the time of year. I've been riding it so much that racing Battenkill seemed like a good idea. I raced a couple of the Johnny Cake's in Albany and having survived all of the crashes in Race 1 and all of the hills in Race 3, I figured why not take my early season form to Battenkill.

I've never been in racing shape in early April, so this is all new to me. Having spoken to a handful of people that have raced Battenkill, here's what I've learned so far:

If you race CX, you should be all set running standard road tires and the race shouldn't be any worse than the local Hollenbeck race. If you don't race CX, this race is epic, and you should buy a special set of 700x25 or 28 tires with special liners, a one "off" Cervelo frame with special extended fork tabs that will allow for extra tire and mud clearance, double wrap bar tape, box section rims, a second seat post collar, and military issue MRE's in case you get dropped mid race. As a CX racer, I'm going with my S1, 700x23 Conti 4000's and PowerTap so I can remember the fun watt by watt at a later date.

I'll let you know how it works out. I've included a picture of my bike in a pathetic attempt to recreate a "pre classic" bike profile that you'd see in Cycling News or VeloNews. We'll see if I end up stuck in a sand pit or double flatting on a decent after taking the advice of the local CX'ers.

By the way, sorry the picture is so blurry. Bigfoot took the picture with his camera phone.

Making the Best of It

Ommegangsters adhere to the one cup of Ommegang per person rule at the most recent tasting event.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Man, I can't wait for the residual checks . . .

They should start pouring in any day. Actually, Drumroll reached out to these folks after a few glasses of Ommegang and they sponsored our CX race. Good people and an even better product. I've been using Assos and started using the Ballocks product with great success. It seems to hang in there longer than the Assos stuff and even after a long ride it's still around for the shower. Our team kits are a little scratchy "down there" so this stuff is a must! I highly recommend it, and not just because I'm intermittently on the front page of their website.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Slacker . . .

Sorry for the lack of recent posts. I'm sure that the three people that read the blog have been concerned over my well being. This is always a tough time of year. The rides on the hamster wheel don't tend to generate post-worthy content and although I've spent many hours in the cold and snow, those rides have also been fairly uneventful. Thankfully racing season is around the corner, the days will be getting longer and I'll get my creative mojo back.

One topic that keeps popping into my head is riding partners. It seems like year around there are always other like minded crazies to ride with. Who you ride with can have a major impact on the enjoyment one derives from a ride. Can the people you're riding with carry an intelligent conversation? Do they speak at a volume that you can actually hear? Do they ride well in traffic or are they constantly giving people in pickup trucks with gun racks the finger? At the end of the day, a 3-4 hour ride can fly by or seem like an eternity.

I couldn't possibly add up the number of miles I've logged with the likes of Drumroll, "Bob", Faso and more recently Timmy O. As fast as life can move these day, some of the most interesting conversations I've had in the last few years have been on the bike. When you have four hours of riding in front of you, you're going to talk. Conversations have spanned from whether mankind is inherently good or evil, what we might do if faced with terminal cancer (sadly last year a local cyclist was), the fragility of life, how to raise children (although I don't have any), politics, and of course more bike centric topics like rehashing past races, SRAM vs. Shimano, dream bikes, dopers, and the occasional gossip and smack talk. Good stuff.

Switching topics, I've been ratcheting up the training this winter. Since my primary focus has always been CX, the road season has always been an afterthought. This year I've decided to get an earlier start and see what happens. My CX season far exceeded my expectations so I figure it's time to give it a real go on the road. There's no question that my body and mind are better suited for CX, but I don't want to look in the rear view mirror someday and feel like I didn't maximize whatever potential I had on the road. Who knows what will happen, but I'm hopeful that I can at least finish most of the races with the lead group. Last season I spent too much time just a few watts behind the lead group. Maybe between the SLC-SL and some additional motivation I can close the gap. If not, there's always the "saving my best stuff for CX season" excuse.

Hopefully with racing season and daylight savings around the corner, I can step up the blog posts and keep my three readers entertained. Worst case scenario I'm on the verge of building up a training bike, so I'll have some pics to post once my frame gets in. Mrs. Skinny was surprisingly understanding when I explained that my new bike was SO nice that I needed to buy a second bike for training and crits. It takes a very special lady to support a bike racer, and by special I mean understanding, not a former passenger on the short bus.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Went to a 5K and a cycling event broke out

On a frosty 3.5 hr Saturday ride that took me thru Caz this past weekend, I noticed the Chilly Chili banner.  I wondered when it was as Ommegangsters Jeff W and Skinny Phil had run it in recent years.  Low and behold I ran into some folks later in the afternoon who said it was the next day.  I checked it out on the web and decided what the he!!, I had run Friday eve for 40 minutes for the first time in weeks so I was definitely not over trained and should give it a go.  So Sunday morning I loaded the running shoes and other running apparel into a daypack and headed out on the bike to umm, yes, to warmup ... for 2 hours.   See my masterplan was to ride then run and then ride home.  I figured this would suck all aspirations of running hard, have fun, and build in a great excuse for sucking on the run.   So as I get to registration, I see local cycling guru Diamond Dave and Sue joke and they chuckle about my bike parked out front.   Then I run into cycling youngster Jake G who stopped for a quick hello.  Once back inside to stay warm, Ithaca area cycling strongman Jeremy G walks up and says hello and that new Ommegangster Jason H was there.  Holy crap.  The only people I know at this 5k running race of 1100+ people are the cycling folks I ride and race with.   So I head outside to the start and run into Tri-guy Jamie, another dude I have rode with.  With about a minute to the start, Derek P (Fizz) walks up and says hello.  Holy double crap.  So we start and I watch all the "cyclist" run away from me.  All in all I sucked (goal accomplished) and got my butt kicked by all the cyclists as a bonus.  Some of them cycling dudes are fast runners.

The post race chili samples rocked, I sipped a few brew samples and then I took the brisk plunge back home kinda laughing that the venue was definitely different but the same cycling guys were putting the hurt on me once again and as usual, we all connected after to share the moment, have a laugh and catch up with each other and make plans to connect at some time in the near future.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Hypermyotonia, Popliteal Fossa and "the vein, the vein"

What, what what?  Hypermyotonia, Popliteal Fossa and "the vein, the vein" you ask? 

Kinda sounds like a blood or kidney disorder, a new Italian cycling team, and a 2 year old trying to copy Tattoo from Fantasy Island.

Anywho, if your a physiocyclodorkasaurus, you'll find this article rather intriguing.

You know what this means ... in addition to things like your AT, pedal stroke efficiency and power zones, now you gotta work on reduction of personal hypermyotonia through refinement of your nervous system.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Walking on the moon

This weekend turned out to be a great weekend for riding. Granted CNY was sub-zero Saturday and not a lot warmer on Sunday, but there was some great riding none the less. In fact when I rolled up my hill Sunday, it was a blistering 12 degrees and I was sweating my proverbial junk off.

I met Tim O. bright and early both days and although we avoided some of the big downhills (Rt 20) it was business as usual. I must admit that when I woke up and saw that it was minus 12 on Saturday I wasn't certain that I'd make it longer than 20 minutes, but 2:45 later I was in pretty good shape and the temps had only skyrocketed to minus 4. As far as a few local cyclists are concerned, and certainly the folks at the Nice N Easy, we'd might as well have been moon men. Partially due to our appearance, but mostly because a lot of people seemed to think that riding in this weather was tantamount to walking on the moon.

I must admit that as recently as last year I would have agreed. I spent weeks XC skiing because I thought it was too cold and snowy. Thankfully my buddy Tim did all of the initial testing and since he lived, I decided I'd might as well tag along for the subsequent rides. Tim is sort of an animal. He trains from 4am to 10am regularly, so I wasn't sure that I should be following his example. Clearly he's tough in ways that would make a Belgian racer proud to know him. After a little trial and error, I think I have the cold weather dialed in. If you'd like to join me in walking on the moon, here's the recipe:

Above 12 degrees F:
1 - CX Bike
1 - Fenders (optional but nice - keep you and your riding buddies dry)
1 - Blinky light (front and rear if it's still dark - rear at all times)
1 - Pair of winter boots (I use Lake MTB boots because you can walk in them if all else fails)
If you don't have winter boots, wool, bags, neoprene and duct tape may suffice
1 - Pair of winter tights with wind block on the front panels (wear tights underneath if necessary)
1 - Set of base layers and a windproof jacket
Wear a jersey underneath so you can keep bottles in it to keep them from freezing
1 - Pair of Mountaineering Mittens (I use EMS) Spend some $ and go $70-$90
1 - Set of hand warmers (buy in bulk at a hardware store)
1 - Winter hat or balaclava

Under 12 degrees F:
Add neoprene shoe covers over winter boots. Trust me, they help.
1 - Snow pants or some form of Gore-tex pants
1 - Toe clip strap to keep your pants out of the chain
1 - Balaclava
1 - Gore-tex jacket or 2nd jacket (Tim wears a down jacket, I just don't own one)

Any form of eye wear seems useless when it's below 12 degrees. They just fog up. I suppose you could wear ski goggles, but I want to have my peripheral vision when the snowplows are out.

Speaking of snowplows, any decent CX'er should be able to manage riding in the snow unless it's icy. It looks intimidating, but you really get a feel for it once you've been out there for awhile. I use Michelin Jet tires all winter and they work very well. They're pretty smooth when the pavement is dry and seem to hook up well in the snow and hard pack as well. 2-3 inches of snow seems to be the limit before you'd need a mountain bike.

If you see a snowplow coming up behind you, you have a couple of options. If there are no cars coming, move into the oncoming lane to get out of the way, or if there are cars coming, get off of the road as completely as possible. Get off your bike if you have to. Trust me, you might be pumped to be out there, but the plow guys are unimpressed. Unless you want to be lying dead in a ditch next to a dear carcass, get out of their way because they have a job to do and to them, you're just another mailbox.

When you head out:
Avoid going down huge hills - my right eye froze shut on Rt 20 a couple of weeks ago

Stay off of the busy roads as much as you can - The shoulder is going to suck and cars aren't going to want to swerve around you if the lanes are snowy. Much like the snowplows, they aren't going to risk sliding off the road because you're a cyclist with OCD trying to build base.

Plan to have a convenience store on the route in case you need to warm up or splash some hot water in your bottle.

All of this may sound like a huge hassle, but this time of year is a great time to build solid base, and riding on the trainer for 3 hours is far less appealing than facing the elements. Once you get into a routine, it really doesn't take any longer to get ready to ride than it does in the summer. Just a few more layers. Some of my best rides have been in cold weather. They will make you "strong like bull."

What else? Make sure to moisturize so your face doesn't look like a catcher's mitt when you're old. Gel packs are less likely to freeze than Cliff Bars. Keep 'em close to your body. Bring a phone in case you need to bail. Plan to see really lame average speeds if you're riding in snow pants. The effort is the same or harder, but don't let the slow speeds make you feel bad. Shifting in mittens isn't easy, but you'll get used to it. If you're thumbs get cold, tuck them into the mittens. You won't be able to shift or stand and climb, but once the thumbs warm up from the heat packs you'll be good to go.

I think that's it. Hope to see you out there, but not next to a deer in a ditch.