Friday, May 27, 2011

Pre Race: The Carbo-Load

I had to take a picture of this sandwich I had made at Subway for lunch. 12 inches of meatballs, steak, bacon and cheese. Keep in mind this was

Oh and uhh, later that day...

I'll be driving up to Baltimore tomorrow with Chuck to try and make some moves at the Bikejam before our road trip up to NJ for the Tour of Somerville on Sunday and Monday. It'll be a fun weekend, followed by an intense week of training with some serious mileage down in Unison, VA. I look forward to posting about it. Ciao.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Back On The Bike: Full Throttle

I got the staples taken out of my knee from Poolesville on Tuesday. I've been riding pretty heavily since. With a strong sprint ride out of Alexandria, VA. on Tuesday and the Greenbelt Series Race yesterday, I'm having a good week so far.

I'm feeling a lot stronger than I had expected. Its beginning to seem like having a week or two rest was likely beneficial at this point in the season.

Greenbelt yesterday didn't go the way I wanted it to, but honestly, I'm fine with that. I got a great workout in and I confirmed that I am still in the kind of shape to stick with a 1/2/3 Crit for 35 miles. I could even launch some attacks and put out some major power on 300-400m sprints. It was a huge mental boost for me here, I had no idea how this was going to pan out and how my body was going to react.

The rest of the week is falling into place now. Today will be long and tomorrow will be short and easy with some efforts to break the legs up. Then I'm all out for three days with three crits that carry some serious competition with them. Bikejam and Somerville. I'm feeling good and I'm ready.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Its Just That Kind of Sport.

I've learned a lot from cycling. I've learned to leave as little up to chance as possible. I've learned to prepare down to what kind of shoelaces I'm going to wear on the drive over to a race. I've learned to dissect and evaluate every corner, every piece of gravel, every source of energy I take with me on a ride, every angle of my bike. But until now, I hadn't learned to except the fact that much of this sport really is just left up to luck. Its just that kind of sport.

I was involved in another unfortunate incident during Maryland's prestigious Poolesville Road Race this last Saturday. An accident that left me with a jagged rock sticking painfully out of my right knee.

A hospital visit 2 hours later resulted in three staples, over 10 shots of painkiller, and a jungle of various bandages littered all over my leg. I feel pathetic talking about such a simple injury compared to one of such severity as Stage 3's Gila this year but in my eyes the cause is quite similar. Bad timing and bad luck is what I blame accidents like these on. Not a riders preparation or reaction time or skill. Its the unfortunate luck in life that everyone encounters at some point, some worse than others. Its something that cant be avoided but that should absolutely be ignored, for a happy and vibrant life really isn't possible with the constant stress of worry. Its just something that has to be dealt with as it is dished out.

I've never believed in the "art" of luck and changing someone's chances through ridiculous ritual and belief but, I do however believe in the concept and the idea of "luck." With the crash a couple weekends ago and this one recently, I've come to the realization that I am quite simply having an "unlucky" month. It sucks that things haven't exactly gone my way during these last few weeks but I can be damn thankful that they haven't gone worse. I am alive right?

So, I accept what had happened. I take the hard days of healing as they come and I deal with it. Eventually, I'll get myself back on the bike, where I belong, and begin a whole new series of experiences and lessons.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Jefferson Cup

This was a much awaited race for me, as I'm sure it was for everyone else. But after last week's practice of abstinence from training I didn't know what to expect.

The whole race was a blur for me. Attack after attack went off the front as the peloton chased every one of them down. Gel after gel went by as the laps flew away. A mixture between the underestimated effect of the Sun & poor decision making by the moto officials is what ultimately ended my race.

The deceivingly hot temperature beat my body into the beginning stages of dehydration towards the latter half of the race. I sipped and conserved what was left in the only two bottles I had for the entire 60 miles but it wasn't enough. Not even close. I guess I first started to feel the dull muscle cramping from evident dehydration with about 2 laps (20mi) to go. I wrote it off and focused on the race.

Halfway through our last lap the moto officials stopped us in the middle of a moderate climb to let the Pro race fly past us. 5min later we began the climb without hesitation of speedy pace. This is when my body began to shut down, entirely. No more than a minute later my right hamstring went and I was forced to stop, yell in pain, stretch and regain composure. I climbed my way back on the bike only to be stopped 200m later by a sharp cramp in my left calf, then my quad. My body wasn't having it. It was done for the day.

I hitched a ride with a wheel car back to check-in. It was a tough experience to swallow. I'm kicking myself right now about it. "Bring more water next time." Another learning experience to throw in the bag.

Fort Ritchie Criterium

A confidence boost is always a good thing, no matter how surprising it may be.

Thats what Fort Ritchie was like for me, a surprising (but much needed) confidence boost. Moral was down after my crash at Ephrata last weekend. So a 2nd place finish to start the weekend off was exactly what I needed.

After the crash I wasn't able to walk, let alone ride my bike. This being said, training wasn't an option for me this week. For weekend races, this is killer. A meager 45min spin before the start left my mentality lacking confidence. My body was saying "no" and my mind was agreeing.

The story was the same throughout the race. Thought after thought of contemplating dropping out and calling it a day didn't make things any better. However, for some reason I kept going, never skipping a beat on moves and positioning. This is what got me to the right spot on that last sharp corner behind my "breakaway partner" Tony Abate.

It was a 200m sprint after that. I was gaining on Tony fast but didn't have enough distance to finish him off before the line. It was a surprising finish. Second. I never would have guessed, going into the race. One thing is for sure. Me and Abate deserved the 1&2 finish after last weekend. Congrats on the win Tony.

Photo Credit: John Clark & Tony Allen-Mills

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tour de Ephrata

Its really been much too long since I last posted on here. Not even a simple update. I'm ashamed.

Its been a hectic last few weeks with seemingly bad news and bad results all over the place. Its finding the high points in your misfortunes that makes you stronger though. Its been tough, but I have been able to find some gain in the losses.

Tour de Ephrata was last weekend. I have a lot of mixed emotions on how this race went down. Me and Tony Abate went big on a risky breakaway in the 54mi RR, 25mi from the finish. It was a good move that stayed away for 22mi until I dropped from lack of energy. That last 3mi was a slow spin to finish in an estimated last place.

I was on unfamiliar ground in the TT up Pain Mountain. No Aero helmet, no TT bike, no Aero bars, no skin suit, no race wheels, just my usual road setup. With this in mind, I went out there to have fun and hurt myself on some climbing. I got a solid workout in and surprisingly put myself in the GC with a 10th place ride.

The downtown crit 4 hours later is where things started to go wrong. Everything was off to a great start. No rain, clear idea of the course, good warmup, and plenty of energy. Before the first lap was through, me and Tony had gone away again. First we had 10s, then 15, then 20, then 30 and even up to 35. However, as a de ja vu of yesterday, we were sucked into the peloton with a mere 2 laps to go. On the final lap I crashed out hard after great positioning that would have set me up nicely for the sprint.

After that weekend I was left with a lot of painful road rash, a swollen right ankle, and the familiar, agonizing question of "What if?" What if me and Tony hadn't gone on those breaks together? What if I hadn't crashed? What if I had a TT setup and a better idea on how to manage that ride? Inevitably, reality finally kicked in and I realized that me and Tony had gained an enormous amount of respect from what we had done together. Any rider can sit in the back of a group with the wind up front. But it takes a lot of guts and strength to make the move(s) that we did, and for that the weekend was a success.

Photo Credit: Anthony Skorochod