December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to everyone. I hope all is well and everyone is healthy and happy. Take the day to kick back, relax, and enjoy the friends and family around you. Happy Holidays, Evan

December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays

Just wanted to wish everyone a safe and joyous holiday season and a very good 2010.
Keep the rubber side down!
Ty (aka saddledancer)

December 11, 2009

The Big Ring

Let's change subjects, get off the Tiger Woods tire fire and talk about The Big Ring. I just brewed up a cup prior to my trainer ride this morning. It is a balmy 6 degrees outside. Probably seems like a beautiful morning to our Montana contingent, but to those of us with soft underbellies, it is hellaciously cold. So the trainer it is. As with any ride worth doing, first, I ground up some freshly delivered Big Ring beans and threw them into the coffee maker. My house began to smell great, replacing the aroma of my 18 year old blind and deaf Italian Greyhound, Sophie, who has a smell, no let me say stench, all her own, but I digress. Needless to say the change in essence was appreciated. Well, back to The Big Ring coffee. It is smooth, might I say too smooth. I may be tempted to drink several pots. That is some fine bean. Any of you who haven't tried it or have just run across this blog, you gotta get some of this.

My Christmas shopping is done. Everyone is getting the Big Ring.

December 6, 2009

Snow today, and off Topic

Well it is the off season, and 'parently was the season to be off. Put on a few really unneeded pounds. I can't drop any of it by riding inside so I usually spend some time with heavier slower moving things, (man there's a punchline there, and if a certain someone reads this, its going to be me a 'gettin a punchin.) Most of us don't race this time of year so other than the love of cycling and shared fitness obsessions, we are probably very different. But I'm hoping we also have much of the same christian values. I have a few friends that don't believe in God, that does bug me a bit but they are really decent, having good morals and lifestyles. This is about pro sports, 53x11coffee is in that category and as money changes hands I think about this Tiger Woods thing, I don't know what it is like at that level of play, but I do know I'm where all that money comes from. I liked Tiger, I joined his website. Now I feel like He's a bum. He hangs in clubs with the intention of picking someone up, even picked up a waitress with whom he was attended too while with His wife, that in my book is very wrong. If 53x11coffee had an association with Nike I would be very sad, as I won't wear any Nike until they part company with this sleazeball. And Mr Woods if you read this and you still have your father in your prayers, ask Him for forgiveness not us, because I don't have to. I'm not Hip or Cool, don't make millions in pro sports and I don't like to hang with sleazeballs. Thanks everyone for reading. PS, there is such a thing as a sleazeball, spell check fixed my spelling.

November 29, 2009

Noobee but not new

Whaz happening Team 53x11 people?! I'm also new member of the group, joining yesterday (Tucson, AZ.). Being a diehard addicted morning drinker, coffee I mean, I'm not new to 53x11. I pushed the buttons to join on with the Team, hoping to kick start my biking attitude back into gear. I am looking forward to being associated with the group, and to hearing back from all of you.


November 28, 2009

Introduction

I'm a new member of the team having joined just this morning. I mentioned to Evan that I had seen the 53x11 kit at races and thought it looked pretty sharp, putting it in the back of my mind as a future purchase. I was surfing the web aimlessly when I ran across a link to 53x11 coffee. Checked it out, contacted Evan and was signed up in short order. Great to be associated with such a good group of like-minded people who value corporate and individual responsibility, qualities seemingly in short supply these days. Even better to be associated with fit men and women who like to tear ass around the countryside on bikes. That's a concept I can get behind.


A little bit about me, I am starting my 21st year as a triathlete having switched my emphasis to longer stuff over the last couple of years. I just finished my 5th and 6th Ironman distance races this year. I have already registered for 3 for 2010; Idaho, Wisconsin and a non-sanctioned fantastic race, the Great Floridian (hilly if you can imagine). My training partner Katie and I, she being 46, me entering my 55th year this January, emphasize swimming and biking over running since both sports are considerably less stressful on the body. This year to date, we have over 4k miles biking, 800 running and somewhere over 300k yards swimming.


I love cycling above all else. I am a bit of a Ludite when it comes to new technology – I will embrace the newest and coolest bike gear – give me carbon fiber any day, but trend away from GPS and power monitors. I know I would be a much better athlete if I went that route, but part of my love of human powered sport is getting away from the plugged-in world. This is especially important to me because I am an IT geek and have my fill of technology every day at work and evenings and weekends.....give me fresh air and an open road to make me happy. I live in Northern Illinois, 25 miles south of the Wisconsin border and was able to see hundreds of sandhill cranes flying south for the winter yesterday. I might have missed them had my nose been buried in power meter readouts as I rode along. Normative power or sandhill cranes – the answer is simple for me. But hey, this is a big tent and lots of room to fly your freak flag whatever it may be.


Glad to be here.


-Pete M

November 26, 2009

It's about the bike.

The older I get, the more I can appreciate what cycling has done for me. The friendships, great times, good times and a fair balance of adversaries. Cycling teaches us sometimes life isn't always fair or easy. But at the end of the day I feel there isn't better time spent than being in the saddle. Alot of us are still riding as much as we did when we were twice as young, and now enjoy riding twice as much. I'm stronger now than I was at twenty. Isn't it awesome we can have this kind of health for so long. Cycling has brought me to this place, I have clear thoughts, clear objectives, the love and admiration of my wife and the greatest fitness. It is about the bike, if you are reading this you know the secret but sometimes I just want to tell more people. The chubby neighbor, the secretary that's always a little crabby.....get a bike, breathe the air, feel your heart asking to go faster.
Happy Thanksgiving.

November 23, 2009

Michael Morris Illustration

I just love the new illustration on the team's home page. I hope it will be available for purchase.
Happy Thanksgiving!
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

November 14, 2009

Celebrating 30 Years

This Christmas celebrates my 30th year of riding. I was a senior in High School in California, and my sister bought me a used Nishiki from the lost and found from the beach club in Malibu where she worked.
I was a band geek and rather non-athletic, though I had played little league baseball for 6 years.
The bike was blue, had two sets of brake levers, shifters on the handlebar stem (or gooseneck) and platform pedals.
I lived in a canyon that had lots of hills. The general region was yet undeveloped and rural, with lots of cow and horse ranches. We even had coyotes and mountain lions.
I did short rides and talked two buddies into a day long ride which went bad when one of them crashed hard after touching wheels. Good thing it happened in front of a fire station. My two friends were turned off from riding but I kept at it, going on excursion rides as often as I could.
By the time I headed off to college in Illinois in the fall of 1980 I felt like a rider. I now had only one set of brake levers, toe clips with straps, and had moved the shifters to the down tube.
I soon became friends with 3 other riders, one of which was my age and was from Escondido, just a few hours south of my home. I remember my first pace line and long ride, a 60 miler through the Illinois countryside. I died in my pulls and finally collapsed on the side of the road, having to be talked in on the ride back to school. There was a dance later that night but I was dead to the world in my dorm room. I had also turned my head only one way to look for traffic and my neck was so STIFF.
I spent two years in Illinois, and my rides included that epic, plus a ride through a controlled burn, a flat that resulted in me walking miles back to school to be finally picked up by a teacher out looking for his wife who was running, being hit by some kids in a car, and my first crash the day before spring break, on a sharp right hand turn on a wet road, that left me with a rasberry on my right hip that bothered me all during a week of skiing in Tahoe. My first and only attempt at skiing. I also did my first race in St. Louis in February, 1981, a crit that was for the public. It was soooooo cold but I finished. Not last but definitely not first as it took me a long time to strap in. My friend won the race. We had lots of inspiration from watching Breaking Away the night before.
I transferred to UCLA in 1982 and kept up my riding, even entering a few crits as a cat 4. I did not like the elbow to elbow action so left my riding to day long adventures. The Nishiki was stolen from my parents garage (my mom thought she had closed the garage door) in the summer of 1982 and I ended up getting a 1972 Condor with Campy Record 5 speed. My first "real" bike and the start of my love affair with Campagnolo.
I took up running in 1983 and soon began triathlons. I competed in triathlons from 1983 thru 1986, but did do a 1/2 Ironman in Maryland in 2002. I lost my desire to bike race (due to the bad experience with crits), thought I kept putting in lots of saddle time, and began focusing on running marathons. I completed 52 marathons (PR of 3:01:22 in Sacrament in 1991) and two ultras (50k and 37.5 miler) between 1986 and 2004.
I moved to Washington state in 2003 and rediscovered bike racing in 2004. My running form disappeared about that time and I have been nothing but a roadie since.
However, I have started running some again and have hopes of doing the Marine Corps Marathon in 2010 which falls on my 48th b-day.
Anyway, to recap. In the last 30 years I lave ridden thousands of miles, have had a few incidents of road rage, have been very fortunate with my accidents (nothing broken despite being knocked unconscious in one race in 2007), have had over 35 bikes (now down to 5), have ridden broken hearted and light hearted, have composed sonnets, songs, poems and love letters, have ridden with friends and by myself, have had truly epic rides, have ridden in California, Oregon, Washington, Canada, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., have ridden in sub zero temps, near hurricane conditions, snow hail, pouring rain and 113 degree heat. I have ridden in the lowest point in the U.S. (Badwater in Death Valley) and up the highest paved road in the Continental U.S. (Mt Evans in Colorado). I wouldn't have missed a single moment for the world. I hope to have at least another 30 years in me.
The bicycle is the greatest invention on this planet.
Long live the bike!!!!!
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

November 13, 2009

The Off-Season

What is the off-season? Is there really even an off-season anymore? I really don’t believe we as athletes have this so called off-season these days. I look at this time of year as a restorative, and rebuilding time. We run, bike, swim, and play hard all summer long, almost to the point of exhaustion. During this high activity time, we really don’t take the time to rebuild and repair and we start to breakdown a little here and there. Most of us are working hard, running errand, kids, basically burning the candles at both ends. Now is the time to slow down and fix whatever got broken or out of whack from this past season.

For me personally, I need to back off on the sports I was concentrating on so much and stretch, more specifically, yoga. I believe yoga can restore any of those nagging tight muscle, tendons or improper biomechanics that tend to pile up when not taking care of ourselves like we should. Think about the sports you do. If it’s cycling, think about the muscle movement, the repetitive muscle movement that happens every day. The tightness that occurs in your hip flexors and soaz, your piriformis (glute area) and rotated shoulders. These things really add up to bad posture and limited performance after awhile. When these areas are overly tight, they aren’t mobile like they once were, or like they should be.

The next three to four months are a perfect time to focus on restoring. My suggestion is to find a local yoga class to take part in. Do a drop in class and find out if you think it could be beneficial. There are different types of yoga. I personally like the Vinyasa style yoga. The instructors aren’t forceful. The classes I’ve taken part in, are balanced in the way they address stretching with core strengthening. I really feel like I’m more of a well- rounded athlete when I’m doing yoga. I like evening classes as they also help me unwind from a long days work. This is my advice to my fellow team53x11Coffee riders.

November 12, 2009

Why 53x11 coffee Bob T.

Awhile back I said I was going to share my thoughts on why I joined 53x11 coffee team, well its getting to be the chilly time of year in my neck of the woods and things are finally slowing down for me a bit. Honestly I did get off track a little this past year, I wasn't aware but when you buy a new house it comes with a black hole that sucks in all things, including time. And I found myself spending more time with wifey instead of my bikey. And sometimes she would say "you should go for a ride" so either she loves me very much or I'm bugging her...I can never tell, can anyone?
I just moved (this was the house previous to this one) two hours away from my old team, The Dutch Wheelman from Bloomsburg Pa. Really had some awesome fun times but I started to feel a little distant and not a part of things. So off I went on my own kinda, I found that the people you beat in a race (and they feel you shouldn't have) will probably not want to be too friendly, and the people I beat, well human nature is what it is...so honestly unless you have spent some time in an area, just going and racing (for me anyway) just didn't do it as far as what I would call the feeling of comradery. And I could warmly be known as the competition , so you could probably guess I may get a bum tire from a local bike shop. That's not a metaphor, this actually happens. But still respected and I willing to share the respect and admiration of others, its no biggee.
I'm a big boy and can stand on my own two feet, so off I went looking for what is known as 53x11 team, Evan was in the early years of 53x11 blog and I too, being older but still young in that I wanted something new. I sent Evan an E-mail and He got back to me almost that day, we sent a few more back and forth. I found Evan to be easy going, accepted every one from cat 5's to Pro's, I think I fit in there somewhere. My wife likes the coffee; me, sometimes I get a sort of bike shop after taste that's really freaky, takes me back. Anyone else? But since then in the years that folowed I have made more friends and now would probably join a local team but now everyone associates me with 53x11 coffee, I'm not a pro with contracts hanging over my head, just a boy and a bike, a great find in coffee and the 53x11 team. I will be at the coffee house Jan 4th, looking forward to a good time.

November 10, 2009

El Tour de Tucson

Hey, Teammates!

I'm headed out west for El Tour de Tucson. I also plan on hitting a few climbs while there. Anyone else gonna be there and interested in a ride or 2?

John Q.

November 5, 2009

Sweet new caps, socks, head gear!




Team riders, we've been waiting for this moment for awhile now. This summer we worked out some cool designs with the folks at Pacesportswear and Defeet. The first items to mention are these cool cotton caps. The underneath of the brim has the same grey scale bean images as our Alter Ego jersey and the logo. So sweet!

Next in line are the helmet liners and skull caps. You'll look like a rebel with these. There are hemet liners and headbands on the site.

Last but not least are the new 5" high wooleators by Defeet. A thinner more comfy version of their woolieboolies. Ride ready and rock steady!



















October 22, 2009

December Issue of Bicycling and Todd Kent from Michigan

I just received the December issue of Bicycling magazine and saw a rider in full alter-ego kit profiled on the final page-Todd Kent from Munising, Michigan. He briefly describes racing a single speed mtn bike in a 24 race in Wisconsin.
Way to go!
I am off to see Race Across the Sky, a one night movie event about this year's 100 mile Leadville mtn bike race. I have old connections to Leadville.
Out for now.
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

October 18, 2009

Attention Team 53x11 members


We have some clothing items on sale right now and additional discounts apply to team members. Just wanted to give you a heads up so you get first dibs.

October 4, 2009

MFG Cross and The Cycling House

MFG is a local cyclocfross series up here in Washington, and it was so good to see The Cylcing House highlighted as a sponsor. There was a race today just a few miles from home in the Lake Sammamish State Park, and though I don't race cross I love to support and watch it. Plus I had two friends racing so had to go.
The weather was exceptional-clear, cold/cool and a light wind off the lake. The course was rather flat and not super technical, but did have two hurdles/obstacles plus about a 200 meter sand run along a beach. Not many riders were ab;e to ride the entire sand pit but some did.
There were also some hydroplane races going on and I got some good shots (I think), of the flying boats as back drop to the running riders.
All in all a beautiful day to see some hard racing. And bonus points for knowing The Cycling House helps sponsor such a great series.
Keep it up guys!
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

October 2, 2009

IMBA's International Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day

Just a head's up for everyone. Saturday, October 3, 2009 is IMBA's International Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day. (http://www.imba.com/resources/kids/index.html) There are events all over the country. You can find the closest event to you here, http://www.imba.com/TKMBD/map.html. For those of you in the DC area, there are three events, one each at Ft. Dupont, Rosaryville, and the Anderson Family rise along the Capital Crescent trail (Silver Spring). I hope to coonvince my 11 year-old to get out and ride. How about you?

September 27, 2009

A DAY TO REMEMBER

The Pacific Northwest has been blessed with incredible Fall weather this week, and today was by far the best. It is hard for me to rate weather a 10, but today qualified-clear sunny skies with little wind and temps in the 50s and 60s.
My season may be over but my riding sure isn't.
I did a very nice 20 mile ride this morning with some good effort thrown in, then jumped on my single speed to ride around town doing errands. I grabbed breakfast at Starbucks and ate at the Salmon Hatchery, located 1/2 mile from my house. The salmon started running a few weeks ago and we have Salmon Days next weekend, a 2 day celebration of the salmon. It is always a humbling experience to go and watch these fish make their way up the Issaquah Creek to the holding pools. They come from the Pacific Ocean via Lake Washington, then Lake Sammamish and up the Issaquah Creek.
Thanks to my girlfriend having to work all day I got in a 3rd ride, a 2 hour 40 mile jaunt arounf Mercer Island with some good effort. Almost a PR for the island. I have not had a triple day in a long time and I just can't get enough. I HAVE to be outside in this weather even though the World Champs were on Universal Sports.
Anyway, a nearly vertical 1/2 moon, incredibly blue sky, running salmon, great views of Mt. Rainier and Baker, the Cascades and Olympics and then all the Paragliders at nearby Tiger Mtn made for one very memorable day.
My legs are tired but my spirit is refreshed.
Hope all is well with my teammates.
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

September 11, 2009

Season Ends In Grand Fizzle Fashion

I had high hopes for the end of my road season, what with the Blackberry Crit in Bremerton last Sunday and the Mt. Baker Hillclimb this Sunday.
WELL-
we were hit with a very bad weather system last week and it POURED. I don't race in the really wet stuff so slept in and enjoyed the cooler temps. I looked at the results and saw that only 8 riders finished (13 started) the Masters race.
A good friend is getting married tomorrow and I would have to get up very early Sunday to make it to the Mt. Baker race as it is about 3 hours away. I have always made a nice weekend out of that event. Plus who knows what libations I will consume manana? I was able to transfer my entry today into the 2010 race.
So overall not the way I wanted to end my season but friends only get married every now and then. And I am still riding, even commuting to work today. A gorgeous early morning 20 mile ride into Seattle-1/2 moon, rising sun, clear skies, cool temps, and awesome views of Mt. Rainier, Seattle and the Olympics. I even saw several swimmers in Lake Washington.
The ride home was very cool too, so to speak. It was quite warm (low 90's). I saw one deer and rode a bit with a very strong rider. I am enjoying my Giant TCX Cross bike more and more, especially after I swapped the FSA compact crank out for a Campy Chorus carbon standard with a climbing cassette.
I am so looking forward to a full and fun 2010 season and wish everyone a great rest of 2009. Keep the rubber side down.
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

September 7, 2009

LiveStrong Challenge


Hi all,
I recently went through what some of you have experienced, and the rest dread: the loss of a parent. My father just lost his battle with cancer about two weeks ago, and it's rocking my world. One of my friends told me that it's one of those "life changing events you'll never forget" and I can't disagree. Cancer is such a brutal disease, and we all need to find ways of defeating it. I'm riding in the 2009 LiveStrong Challenge in Austin on Oct. 25th, and will be flying the colors of 53x11 Coffee for the 90 mile benefit ride. Can you help me reach my goal for donations to the cause?
The LIVESTRONG Challenge is the Lance Armstrong Foundation's signature fundraising event inspired by the hope, courage and determination that exist in all of us. We take to the streets on bikes and on our feet, uniting individuals to stand together to fight cancer.

Through the dollars and awareness that we raise, we will inspire and empower individuals, and we will make life better for the more than 12 million Americans living with cancer. We look forward to having you unite with us as a partner in our fight.
Join the Fight. Take the Challenge.

LIVESTRONG,
Mark Linton

September 1, 2009

MODELING GIG

Last year I competed on a relay team from work for the 2008 Seafair Triathlon in Seattle. The bike course was around 12 miles and almost completely flat. I clocked the 2nd fastest time for all relay riders and about 20th overall. Our team beat another team from work and we took 2nd in the "mixed over 105 years" division. Unfortunately I could not find any official photos of me. Must have been too fast for the photographers:)
Some friends competed in this year's edition, and I was just told today that I appeared on a coupon for Tutta Bella, a local Italian restaurant chain that came in everyone's packet. I am shown running to the start of the cycling course in my 53x11 skinsuit. It is very cool though I have not received any payments or rolyalties for use of my image:) I have contacted the company to see if I can get a proof or one of the coupons. I would like it for my collection.
Anyway, our team has unintentionally received a lot of attention. Pretty cool.
Out for now.
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

August 28, 2009

PLAY THE VUELTA

You may or may not know about this site and it is short notice but it is fun. Make a team and play the 2009 Vuelta A Espana via velofight.com.
I myself have a terrific squad (though I miss Jens Voight). Just look for riders sporting kits sponsored by BEATRICE THE CAT LADY'S ALL STAR POLE REVIEW:)
Ty (aka Saddledancer)
My TDF Team was sponsored by Lyle's Lapdance Emporium and Chico's Bail Bonds

August 26, 2009

Cranky Monkey MTB Series Race#1 - Wakefield

I wrote this the day after the race but forgot to post it.

The Cranky Monkey is a three race series of MTB in the Washington, DC area (USA Cycling D20) promoted by EX2 Adventures. The first race of the series was this past Sunday, July 26, 2009, at Wakefield Park in No. Va. Wakefield Park has some very non-technical single-track trails including some paved road sections as well as some gravel road. There is very little climbing to speak of so I would say it is somewhat rolling with no major climbs. I am signed up for the Sport 45+ series so my race started at ~9:49 a.m.

Given that it is 2009, it wouldn’t be a MTB race if there wasn’t rain the day/night before the race or during the race. This race was no exception. There was even an e-mail by the promoter advising racers to check the race website in the morning to see if the race was cancelled. In the morning the race website said that the trails were a little wet but that the race was on. Cool!!! The race start is on a gravel road that climbs up a short steep hill to the paved park road which takes you to the “bowl.” The bowl is a 2-2.5 mile single track section of the park with quite a few log obstacles but nothing too difficult. However, it was still rather wet with a slick .25” layer of mud on top in some places. Of course about a quarter-mile into this section I leaned into a turn and my front wheel slipped out and down I went. It seemed like 10 – 12 guys went by me while I picked myself up and got back onto the trail. I decided right then I would take it easy in this section. The “power-line” area and “berms” area of the trail seem to have more sandy soil and were hard and fast so you were able to ride normal there. Anyway, the rest of the race was fun. I looked forward to the climbs especially the powerline climb and the switchback climb up the berms. I ended up 18 out of 24 in the Sport 45+ group. On to Fountainhead!

Cranky Monkey MTB Series Race#3 - Quantico

Race #3 of the three race Cranky Monkey MTB series was held on the trails at Quantico Marine Corps Base on August 23, 2009 in the Washington, DC area (USA Cycling D20) promoted by EX2 Adventures. Given my first top-ten performance as a sport class rider at Fountainhead, I was hoping to achieve another in this last race of the series. The Quantico trails offer a lot of steep, punchy climbs which I like.

Unfortunately, the Mother Nature decided to dump over 2” of rain in the area the day before the race so I was expecting the race to be postponed. I woke up early to find that the promoter said the trails were good and the race was on. The temperature was forecast to be mid-eighties and not too humid which is all you can hope for in the middle of August in No. VA. This year the race start was at the bottom of a fire road that we bombed down on last year’s course. This suited me fine because it was a white-knuckle descent last year and it seemed in worse shape this year. The trails were actually in perfect shape for the race. Unbelievably, there were no puddles or mud anywhere on the course so my concern about trail conditions was misdirected. Last year I seemed to be having a good race until I broke my rear derailleur cable and ended up DNF. The race started very well for me. I was not really concerned with where I was at the start so I cannot say what place I entered the trails after the fire road start. Right away I noticed that I was engaged in a battle with three other guys that I would pass on the climbs and they would return the favor on the descents. There were quite a few climbs so I think I had the advantage and was able to pull away by the end of the first lap. I had no crashes to speak of except for one close call. There was a descent down a creek bed that was muddy in the middle but dry on the sides. The notable feature was a big tree trunk laying in the middle of the creek bed the entire length (~80’). I was going pretty fast down this area when I recognized the danger. Gravity was pulling you toward the middle of the creek bed and the sides were steep enough to make it difficult to stay there, but you didn’t want to get near the tree trunk because of the negative ramifications of crashing on it. I was fighting this situation the whole way down when I realized I was going to not be able to miss the tree trunk. I ended up clenching my teeth and closing my eyes as the crash loomed. A quarter-second later I realized that I was still upright and not going to crash. I had somehow skipped over the tree trunk to the other side of the creek bed. I felt very fortunate and made a note to avoid this mistake on the second lap. The second lap was good except that I started cramping towards the end of the raced. I backed off a bit to recover and ended up getting passed by one of the guys I had been swapping places with on the first lap. I kept him in sight knowing that we had one last climb before the final descent to the finish. I caught him and passed him on the climb, he was very gracious about giving me space to get by, and gassed it down the hill and over the line. I ended up finishing eighth out of nineteen for the race and ninth in the series for Sport Men 45+.

I want to give a couple of shout outs here. First to all, to those who have given me encouragement during the races I thank you very much. It always provides a mental boost to hear someone call out your name and it is most appreciated. To Greg Massey and all the other Sport class racers who shared the trails so sportsmanlike, it was a pleasure to race with you this year. And finally, Mark Thompson, thank you for sharing your experience from the beginner race earlier in the morning. Your information was pertinent and really helpful. Good luck to all. See you next year!

Cranky Monkey MTB Series Race#2 - Fountainhead

Race #2 of the three race Cranky Monkey MTB series was held at Fountainhead Park on August 9, 2009 in the Washington, DC area (USA Cycling D20) promoted by EX2 Adventures. Given my ho-hum performance at the first race of the series at Wakefield Park, I was hoping that the added technical features of Fountainhead along with the steep, punchy climbs may help to improve my performance as it relates to my finishing place amongst my worthy fellow competitors. Bottom line is that I was looking for a top ten finish.

The weather leading up to race day was relatively dry for 2009, and compared to last year the course was in pristine shape. The temperature was forecast to be hot and humid (mid-nineties) but what do you expect for the middle of August in No. VA? This race start is a one-mile loop around the park on the park road before diving into the rooty trails. The roots and undulations of the trails at Fountainhead always seem to surprise me. The trail seems more technical than those I usually ride (Rosaryville) so I always seem to take some time to adjust my riding style. Regardless, I felt good entering the trails after the road loop probably about mid-pack. One other thing I like about Fountainhead is that they name their climbs/descents, so you see signs with names like Holy Grail Hill, Lung Buster Hill and Shock-a-Billy Hill to name a few. Anyway, the first lap went really well for me with no crashes or falls and I had passed a number of folks in my race, so I had to make up for it on the second lap. I had my first crash of the day on a sweeping descent where I was paying more attention to the rider I felt behind me rather than the trail. My front wheel rolled over a branch or root mid-trail and slid out on me. I went down on my right side skidding into some leaves with some minor scrapes. My last crash of the day occurred just before the finish line. I had just descended Shock-a-Billy for the second time and had just a quarter mile to go. I knew from the previous year’s race that it was all uphill to the finish line. A guy had just passed me on the approach to Shock-a-Billy and I saw him not too far in front of me catching/passing another racer. The gap to these guys was shrinking fast and I was thinking that maybe I could catch one or both before the line. As I approached this little stream crossing (bridge), I was looking up the trail still gauging my chances when my front tire hit the bridge and slid out. I went down quickly and shot across the surface of the bridge on my back. I must have been spinning slowly because my left side left the bridge surface all at once and I dropped a foot or foot-and-a-half into the creek bed which was dry. Unfortunately, there was one big rock there in the creek bed that I took right in the small of my back. Ouch! I jumped up, thinking how that crash had cartoon implications, and remounted my bike only to discover my chain had dropped. Seeing that I had only about 50 yards to go I decided to run rather than futzing around with my chain. So I ran as fast as I could up the hill to the finish. I ended up ninth out of twenty-four Sport 45+ competitors. Needless to say, I was happy with my race and looking forward to race #3 at Quantico.

August 25, 2009

JUST CALL ME "TINY"

I wasn't sure whether to call this entry the above or "What am I now going to do on Tuesday Nights?" I like the one I chose better, and I hope you agree. But if you don't that's just fine by me. We are all individuals and differing opinions are what make us human.
I have an older steel (Reynolds 531c) bike equipped with Campy Record 9 speed I bought a few years back on ebay. It was built by Gazelle for an amateur Danish squad called De Zwalew. I know nothing of the team and have not found much on the internet. The bike has a frame number hanger on the top tube and I have made a number of my father's motorcycle racing days. He raced motorcross and desert events when I was a youngster. The bike also has a rider's name on the top tube (Tiny De Van). I picture Tiny as not so tiny, but some brute of a Danish monster. One who could pull for hours on end through the flat windy countryside. The bike weighs about 22 pounds and I use it as my trainer bike and horrific weather ride bike during the winter. Just imagining what it has gone through helps me muscle through the wet and nasty days.
Tonight was the last Tuesday night event at Pacific for 2009 and I decided to end it as Tiny. I had not ridden the bike on the road in some months and wanted to have fun. Plus I am suffering a slight cold so I figured any handicap couldn't hurt. We raced the flast for just 40 minutes as we had cake and awards afterwards. A good showing as the weather was rather nice after a wet morning. About 30 in the 4/5 race. It was mostly sunny with mild temps. My legs were heavy after a 2 hour hike/run on Sunday, plus my lungs were suffering some and I was dealing with the cold. There was no way I was missing the last race, especially as we had team swag to give out. I had to REPRESENT!
I knew I couldn't do a whole lot in the race so I decided to go at the start and attacked near the end of the first lap. They would not let me go and I pulled the whole train across the line to end the first lap. Felt good but I was hurting. I yo yod for most of the race, attacking two more times but getting no where. My bars were also loose for some reason and every time I hit a slight hole they dropped a fraction. Scary feeling. I did not feel all that confident attacking like that so I hung back for the last lap finishing almost last. No biggie considering. It was a very fond farewell to my competitors and the course for a year. The carke was delicious and I also got a pair of Bike Hugger socks for racing in more than 10 races. They had 21 total this year and I did 14. The 53x11coffee bottles went fast as did the espresso. Thanks Evan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Enough for now-it is 10:30pm, the adrenaline is fading, the pizza is getting cold and beer warm, and my radio station (KBCS-91.3fm) is playing very cool folk music. Plus my cats demand some attention.
Night teammates. Stay safe and keep the rubber side down.
Ty (aka Saddldancer or Tiny)

August 24, 2009

Training Does Pay Off


Now if I only did train properly! I can make a lot of excuses-unemployed for 6 months this year, challenging weather, loss of a dearly loved pet. But what it comes down to is my laziness. Sure I ride every day, but they are more like marshmellow milles-all fluff and no substance. They help my soul but they don't help my results. I have not put the time nor the quality in I truly need to improve. I can fake the Tuesday night races, but I have not done a real road race for months.
I did do the Crystal Mtn Washington State Hillclimb Championships last Saturday, and my lack of quality training showed BIG TIME. My legs felt good and the weather was very nice. I didn't think I could PR but I did think I could beat last year's time when it was very hot and windy. I started 2nd in the Masters C group and kept my 30 sec guy in sight the whole time. I was slightly faster on the steeper sections but could not gain on him. I did get caught by the 3 who started behind me though and that was a real shock as I have only been caught once before out there. My time was almost a minute slower than my previous slowest (2004). I did enjoy the ride though as it is a gorgeous setting just a few miles from Mt. Rainier. I also saw some guys I had not seen in a long time. MY lungs are still burning some.
Tomorrow night is the last Pacific of the year and they will have awards. They are giving out 53x11 Coffee swag which I am very excited about. So cool to be associated with two great operations, 53x11 Coffee and BUDU Racing. I also get to give a little back by volunteering at next Saturday's Lake Sammamish Triathlon here in town, also put on by BUDU Racing. I get to pace the runners on my single speed cross bike.
Enough for now. Time to go and train. Sort of:)
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

August 22, 2009

new to team

It's been almost 3 full days since I was added to the 53X11 team and so far I can safely say I haven't crashed. That seems to be one of my biggest goals right now as I dip my toe back into racing waters. I'd like to say I should hurry up and get this over with - the crashing thing - usually it never hurts as much as you remember - though when has it ever felt comfortable? About 18 years ago - a blink of the eye when you get to my age - I was involved in a fairly horrific crash where in a points race on the road I ran into the back of a lady on a mountain bike who wondered onto the course. I was in full flight trying to win that lap's sprint and saw an opening to the right - right where I wanted to be - and once I got to that opening I saw why it was there... I had just enough time to close my eyes when I slammed into this rider doing a full 44 mph. I remember flying through the air in a superman pose - it took minutes in my mind to finally land, roll just like I was taught to do and come up in time to see the dozen or so guys who were on my wheel crashing head first into the fast rising pileup I caused. Injuries - well, I felt fine but the lady I hit had a broken cheek and jaw and needed to go to the hospital. I was encouraged to do the same since my right arm didn't move all too well, even though it hurt less than the road rash I was now sporting. Diagnosis - every ligament that held my shoulder together was torn like spaghetti (my surgeon's description). Post surgery - morphine barely cut into the pain I felt and the six weeks off of work was not helpful in the development of my career.

Now that I've written this perhaps I've cast out a few devils or evil spirits that might await me as I try to time a ride today in between bouts of rain. Two decades later wet roads still kind of spook me, as does riding with new riders not yet used to pacelines but they have enormous potential and take turns slugging it out at 28 mph on narrow roads in high traffic areas - and they look at you with blank looks on their faces when you remind them for the upteenth time to never, ever overlap a rider's wheel. Well, I think I've procrastinated enough and it's time to get out before it gets dark. Like a small child that spooks me even more. That said, here I go and thanks to Evan and all at 53X11 for allowing me to wear your colors as I go about exercising my demons. Good luck to all my teammates and I wish you many, many miles staying upright on your bikes. Take care -
Mike

August 21, 2009

Barking Mad

I know it has been really hot and humid out there lately in the DC area. But can all this heat and humidity cause craziness? You be the judge. I was out doing a lunch time ride yesterday. Just getting in about 45 minutes of moderate spinning. As I was riding along a route that I frequently ride I heard barking. I did not recall ever hearing a dog in that area so I took a glance over hoping that there was a fence. There was no fence but there was a lot of bushes and shrubs so I thought I was safe but I prepared myself mentally for a sprint just in case. Suddenly, it seemed the barking was getting louder and much closer. I thought, no way this must be one big, fast dog to be closing on me this quickly. I decided I'd better take a look back to better judge if I was going to need to sprint. So I look back and what do I see? A guy running after me barking like a dog. He was just giving up. I couldn't believe it. He had a great dog bark. It was very realistic. He fooled me. I just wish I had a photo I could show. Anyone else ever get chased by a human barking like a dog?

August 19, 2009

A Good Week

Even though it is still young (just made it to hump day) it has been a good week so far. Despite not training as much or as hard as I have wanted this year I rode an "almost" pr for a 13+ mile rolling, serpentine course around Mercer Island last Sunday. It is a beautiful course on smooth roads and not too much traffic. It is a favorite for runners and cyclists and most cars are friendly and courteous. There are awesome fews of Mt. Rainier and Lake Washington as well. It was thrown into the middle of a 2 hour training ride, my longest in a while:) Including some traffic stops and 2 short but steep climbs I averaged just over 20 mph. I then rode an "almost" pr for a good local climb the next day, despite only having ridden it a couple of times this year. I am doing a crash course of climbs this week for next Saturday's Washing State Hillclimb Champs on Crystal Mtn. I didn' ride the Monday climb all out, stayed in the saddle the entire time and just spun up it. I was pleasantly surprised.
Then we raced last night at Pacific and rode the flat course for 50 minuteswith points every lap. It made for a fast fun night. I attacked on laps 2 and 3 and then played around for the rest of the race. I felt very strong.
Just a few races left in 2009 (one more Pacific, Crystal Mountain, the Blackberry Crit and then Mt. Baker).
I would like to second Casey's well wishes to Evan and my teammates. It has been a blast being on the squad for a 2nd year. It has grown a great deal, and so has the company. I can't wait to see what lies in store in 2010.
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

August 18, 2009

Broke My Duck

Evan - thank you for yet another year of support. With one last set of results, this will be my final blog for the year. The road season in SouthEast Alaska ends in August with a three-day tour, The Tour of Juneau. Admittedly a small event, drawing cyclists from throughout SouthEast and the Yukon, the ToJ gives us one last chance to ride and race together before we hang up our bikes and unpack our ski's.
The order of the three typical stages (a mass-start hill climb, time trial, and road race) was slightly altered this year, with a 20km time trial on the final day to maintain an air of uncertainty over the final GC. I managed to take the opening hill climb with a 3 and 7-second lead over the next two cyclists - and with a pack finish to the road race, carried that slim lead into the final day. Conceeding just 2 seconds over a wet (yes, this is SouthEast Alaska), rolling 20km, I also took second on the time trial and maintained my position atop the GC.
For all the rest of you contributing here, it has been a most enjoyable year of following your accomplishments. And Evan, it's been a blast to watch your business grow, and the team with it.

August 7, 2009

Commuter Challenge winner for July


Our July commuter challenge winner is Doug S from Mansfield MA. He commuted a total of 862 miles in July. 
 I asked Doug to write in about why he commutes. Here's what he had to say. Way to go Doug!

Inspiring others to ride is one of my goals.  It’s a tough sell most of the time.  Whenever the topic comes up with potential recruits, I offer to meet them and ride with them, no takers yet.  Once I even offered to bring my tandem in and pick them up on the way, (that was kind of whacky, in retrospect, Im glad they declined).  At work I am known at work as the bike guy, out of about 1000 people here, there are only a couple who ride in, and they only do it a few times a year.  In one way, its cool because on more than one occasion co workers have actually said that I was their hero when they saw me setting out to ride home in the snow or in the rain.  One day I was in a store miles away from where I usually ride and a guy came up to me and said, “Are you the guy I see riding in Sherborn in all kinds of weather?”   I said yup!.  He thought that was awesome, I said he should try it too.   Another time someone else from a car said he thought it was great to see me in all weather, nearly every morning at the same intersection.   Once a coworker said, seeing me on my bike riding home made him think that all is right with the world.   I was riding to work during a light snow storm and someone drove up and slowed down to ask me if I noticed that it was snowing, I said, yeah, so what?.  Of course, others have made various negative comments regarding the wisdom etc of riding in the snow.  I turn it around and ask what they are doing in something that will kill someone.

 

July commuting:  my usual route is 28.5 miles each way.  Typically, I ride about 4 days a week. On a good day, it will take 1 hour and 1/2 each way, usually it takes me about 1 hour and 40 minutes each way.  Some days, I only do one way, in this case I will drive in, leave my car at work and ride home, then ride back in the next AM.  Fortunately, we have showers and a gym at work so I can shower when I get in.  I ride year round, except if the temp gets below 20F or if its raining at night.  Below 20F, no matter what I do, my hands and feet cannot stay warm enough to survive the ride, if I only had to go a few miles it would be OK.  When its raining and dark, even with good lights, I think the visibility from cars is too low.  In the dark I use some good lights.  I believe its most dangerous at dusk, when Its pitch dark, as long as its not raining lights really make you show up, whereas in low light levels, its much harder to be seen.

 

Some of my commuting miles this month were accumulated riding to and from bike races.  The most recent one was the Norwell Circuit race in Norwell, MA.  That day was a tough day, I did the masters 35+ race and the 45+ race (Im 52). It was about 23 miles to and from the race.  Overall, that day I logged about 93 miles.  I only completed part of the 35+ race because of a flat, but in the following 45+ race I managed to get on a break on the last lap and held off the pack (or at least those who were not in the first break) until the hill finish, where a handful of guys passed me putting me from 5th to 11th place.  I have to thank the team I was working with (Blue hills cycling club) for holding off the chasers as long as they did and allowing me to get away.  I was really stoked with that finish.  It was hot too,  based on my weight upon leaving and when I returned home, I lost 5 lbs of water, in spite of drinking 9 28 oz bottles of sports drink.

(As you may know, these races are not for sissies, in the 35+ race the local retired pro, a former US national champion participated, he ripped everyone’s legs off and of course won).  He rode there also, with the regional crit champ, who said that they were planning to go from the gun, then he asked me if the thought of that made my heart rate jump, I said “the sight of you two riding up made my heart rate jump”.

 

Some might say gee, that’s a lot of time on the bike every day. Sure it is, I just think Im lucky to be able to do it, its like a bonus that no one takes.  Its accomplishing several things at once, Im saving gas and money, not contributing to global warming, staying fit, setting a good example for my kids….. I just don’t get why more people don’t see it this way.  Sure, some cannot because of health issues, no showers at work, etc.  Like, I don’t get why people who are out of shape decide to take the elevator up one floor.

 

Whats the real time cost?  If I drive it is at least 45 minutes, sometimes an hour and 10, depending on traffic.  Driving every day, that would be 1.5 to 2.3 hours every day vs. 3 to 3.5 on a bike?  By my math, that’s an extra hour and a half to 2 hours.  Its funny, much of my thinking about commuting revolves around rationalizing why people should do it.  Sure riding can be hard work, but how hard do people work to afford their cars?  How many hours a week do you work just to own a car?, most do that w/o thinking, how hard did you work in school to get into your profession?

Its too hard is not an answer.  I think its the same stupidity that reigns where a developer clears off all the trees even the big ones, builds a bunch of mcmansions, then gets landscaper to plant all kinds of little trees that need all kinds of attention…..

 

August 5, 2009

A Little South of the Midnight Sun

Two more short road races, and two more second steps on the podium. The Solstice has come and gone, the days are getting shorter, and just one final stage race to go before putting a wrap on the season. Evan, thanks again for your support. Will post with final results in about two weeks' time.

A Ride with the "Good" Guys

And by "good" I mean the 1/2/3s. I raced at the weekly Tuesday night series at Pacific last night and started with the 4/5s. We were to race the "Down Escape Route" (2+ mile counter-clockwise route with a steep short down hill ramp, followed by several uphill rollers and then a false flat) for 55 minutes. We started first, followed by the Masters then the 1/2/3s. I like to pick my own line down the 200 meter or so escape route as it has several ruts and potholes, so I fade off the back and then work my way up over the uphill rollers. This worked for the first 3 laps. I even did my ususal break, this time at the start of the 2nd lap, but sat up as no one went with me and I knew I would get caught. Unfortunately I let the pack to much in front down the escape route and I could not gap during the uphill rollers. This was on the 4th lap almost 1/2 way into the race. I had resigned myself to a tt for the remainder of the race, about 30 minutes, when I saw I was going to be caught by the 1/2/3s. I have never ridden with them and this was my chance. I let the small group catch me (should I say "let"?) and rode at the back for 1.5 laps. They ride so different from the 4/5s and Masters. They ride sooooooo smooth and silent, like a sleeping beast. I then "had" (should I say "had"?) to let the 1/2/3s go as they put the hurt on down the escape route on a prime lap. I then rode alone for 1/2 a lap til the Masters caught me. There was a break of 3 but I let them go and then rode at the back of the chasing group. They were much more "active" like the 4/5s (by "active" I mean yo-yoing and volatile). I then finished the race at the back of the Masters.
I was relatively happy with my performance as my mental state was down. We lost a 19 year old Siamese cat to the recent heat wave, and had to have him put down on Sunday night. I had only known him 2 years, and had not owned a cat til 2 years ago, but we had bonded instantly. It was a real loss. I did ride with an angel pin given to us after the procedure but my heart and mind were not all there. I almost did not go to the race, bu we only have a few left and I do so love racing, so I opted to try. Riding with the 1/2/3s did help a lot.
Evan also sent me some "swag" to share which I did. The organizer took some espresso home to try and is waiting til the last race to distriubte the rest of the goodies. Really a good thing Evan. Thanks so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
On a side note-As riders we have all had encounters with inconsiderate, irate, and just plain thoughtless drivers. Under Washington law a bicycle is a "vehicle" and is subject to the rules of the road. Unless specifically prohibited and unless a bike lane is provided, bicycles are to ride in as far right a position as is safe in a lane. If necessary aq bike can take a posiiton in a lane like a motor vehicle, and this I have done many times wen my speed equaled or was greater than the motor vehicles around me.
Anyway,I have had numerous encounters since I started riding in 1980, in California, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Illinois and now in Washington state, with drivers who are just ignorant of the law or are to dumb to know better. Fortunately I have never gone down as a result of these encounters, though one time in college in Illinois I was truck by something as a car passed me.
Today I was on my recently purchased Giant TCX Cross bike equippped with Campy Record 10 (she is strictly a fun and commuter ride as I don't race cross) that also has a Bike Buddha on the seat post for good karma (purchased from Borders), when a driver called me an explitive for no reason other than I was in a lane of traffic. This particular stretch of road has no bike lane or shoulder (only a bad sidelwalk) , and has 4 lanes (2 each way) with a 40 mph limit. I can usually ride this 1.5 mile stretch at 25+ mph and usually don't have issues with drivers but tonight was different as I was riding in rush hour traffic.
I did respond with a vulgar yell and finger gesture (I was not riding in team kit but was wearing a "Bike Hugger" jersey) and so wanted to catch the vehicle at the next light to instruct them on the RCW and rules of the road. But alas they made the lights and were long gone.
Anyway, I just wanted to take a stand on my soapbox and say that despite all the "alledged" advancements and achievements mankind has made, we are as stupid and ignorant as we were when the bicycle first was invented. I hope someday there is a species worrhy of the bicycle;s respect.
Be safe and keep the rubber side down.
Ty (aka saddledancer)

August 2, 2009

Bib Sighting


So there I was this morning at the start of the Cougar Mountain Hillclimb, a free timetrial put on by Joel Blatt in support of Cimb4Cancer. The climb is only a couple of miles from my home and is a notorious local pain inducing climb. It is a steady steep gut wrenching ride that goes for just about two miles and passes the Cougar Mountain Zoo. Locally it is known as the zoo climb. I used to ride it a lot, but have cut back this year, mainly due to the weather.
Anyway, as I signed in I was asked about the kit and got to spread the word again about the team and company. Someone said they had seen another rider in the kit and I only knew of one other in the area, a friend who rides for the local team called Double Digit. He has purchased a couple of our kits as extra training gear. As I lined up (I was 4th to go out of about 180), I saw a stranger in the knew red bib shorts. I had never seen him before. He had some other white jersey. I did yell out a greeting as he rode past.
I definitely was not ready for the race, and due to my lack of training and very hot and muggy conditions I took it pretty easy. We started on a side residential street every 30 secs, and after a quick slightly downhill start we immediately made a sharp left hand turn on to the climb proper. There were no other real turns. There is a severe and oh so steep right hand switchback turn ALMOST halfway up, and I did catch two guys just before the turn. I was almost caught by my 30 sec guy but I beat him to the line. One guy I did pass threw up A LOT after the finish. I knew I had not put that type of effort in. It was a slow time for me but I was happy considering the conditions. It really is a fun and tough climb. I have ridden it in very hot conditions, rain, snow and beautiful fall conditions. I never get tired of it and it is just down the road. I am fortunate in deed.
On another note, the last few weeks have meant SEAFAIR for the Seattle area, an annual summer celebration, capped off by a weekend of Blue Angels performances and hydroplane boat racing (this weekend). The Blue Angels have a practice session on Friday, and I was able to ride to the I-90 floating bridge and Mercer Island on Friday to watch the practice. Amazing!!!!!!! One benefit of riding is the option to go places other than by car. We two wheelers have it so good.
All the best to my teammates.
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

PS-Results just came out. I was 54th out of 110, and beat one of my training buddies by 20 secs.
For more info, photos and a graphic course profile (earthquake seismographs usually don't look this bad) go to http://www.climb4cancer.net/

July 30, 2009

2nd Hottest Ride Ever

I once rode in 113 degree temps in 1993 in Death Valley for the Whitney Classic, a 136 mile fun race from Badwater to the Whitney Portal trailhead parking lot.
Yesterday was a close second when I rode the 20 miles home from Seattle. There is a large outside thermometer in the middle of a mile climb and around 5:30 pm it read 110. My water was not enjoyable:)
But the shower was:):)
Stay cool my fellow 2 wheelers.
Ty (aka saddledancer)

July 28, 2009

The Heat Is On

You may or may not know, and may or may not care, but the Pacific Northwest is stuck in a very hot and smoggy stretch. Well over 100 now with no real relief in sight for several days. It really started last Sunday when I raced OUCH.
Tonight I raced the flat course out at Pacific and I really thought only a few riders would show. I was so wrong. A large field and consistent laps (4:30 for around 2 miles) meant I hung at the back a lot. It was a good workout in record setting heat. I could just feel the heat radiating off the drag strip as we headed down the back stretch.
I was thanked early on by my breakaway partner from last week. That was a nice gesture. It turns out he did not win last week, but was caught just near the finish. I also helped bridge a gap after a prime lap, bringing the rest to the front group of 6 or so and was thanked for my efforts. Another nice gesture. I did have 2 full bottles of h2o and my sleeveless alter-ego jersey, but I suffered nonetheless.
In any event another fun and safe event. Just 5 more Tuesday night races left!
Hope my teammates stay cool. Too hot to write more:) And it's 10:50 pm!
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

July 27, 2009

OUCH CAN BE A GOOD 4 LETTER WORD

There is nothing like getting up at 4:30 am, hitting the road at 4:55 for a 3.25 hr drive for a 16 mile hillclimb in record setting heat and smoggy conditions, then driving back in bumper to bumper traffic and getting home at 5:15 pm. Let me tell you the cold beer and even colder shower felt so good.
OUCH stands for the Oregon Uphill Championships, not to be confused with the Oregon State Uphill Champs. The race starts in Corbett, Oregon, just 30 minutes north of Portland in the Hood River area, or 3.25 hours from Issaquah, WA (including a stop at a Jack In The Box Drive Thru at 5 am for a Steak & Cheese Burrito (the perfect pre-race food:)) The race is put on by Ernie, the brain trust behind the Elkhorn Classic (a 4 stage 3 day race held in Baker City, OR in early June, which includes 2 LONG road races, a tt and a crit, and I was the proud Lanterne Rouge in 2007 (pre-53x11coffee days). I even earned a $20 cash award for my staying power. It was my first and so far ever stage race. I plan to go again in 2010).
OUCH is about 16 miles long and is held in tt format with riders going at 30 second intervals. I was in the Masters 45-49 cat and started about 1/2 way thru the order. There were 10 in mcat and I finished 9th. Riders can choose between a traditional tt start on the top of a ramp or a starting position on the ground. I went for the standing start and lost time getting clipped in.
I could not go all out for 2 reasons even though I felt good. First I did not know the course as I have never ridden the climb. A friend has and the only advise he could give was that "you will enjoy it." The website for the link includes an elevation chart and course description but they meant nothing as I have to experience a route first hand to know what is what. The 2nd reason was the heat. It must have been in the 90s with little or no wind.
I started sweating badly at 4 miles and experienced right eye irritation again. What is up with that? I did not stop though like during last week's training ride on Sunrise, but poured lots of water over my eye. I rode very even and finished in around 1:16:20, which I said earlier was good for 9th out of 10th in Masters Mens 45-49. Overall I was about 98th out of around 150 riders. The youngest was about 9 and the oldest in his early 60s. Yes I caught both:) I know I can go under 1:10 now that I know the route and given that MOST years the weather is more "saddledancer" friendly:)
The route started with a flat 1/2 mile followed by rolling 7 miles, with the last 6 or so a steady grade in old growth forrest. It was hard to tell I was on a mountain, as compared to the Crystal Mtn/Washington State hillclimb champs (held in late August), or the Mt. Baker Hillclimb (held in early September), or the Cougar Mtn 2 mile hillclimb (next week). The finish, meaning the final 200 meters, was a steep section into the parking lot at the top of the mountain). I finished strong after being passed by a guy who started over 16 minutes behind me (I heard him say he rode under an hour).
By the way, I inadvertently wore my Washington (WSBA) number on my jersey rather than my Oregon (OBRA) number. I heard the wrong number called out at the finish. However, I did have the correct OBRA frame number despite the fact that frame numbers are not required in Oregon. I had to clear up the confusion at the finish.
Despite that embarrassment I did get to spread the word about our team before the start while I talked to a few riders about my "plain wrap" titanium frame I bought 3 years ago on ebay. So many opinions on the brand.
They also gave out nice water bottles full of cold water at the finish and a "finishers" medal. , something to add to my collection of 51 marathon medals. I am thinking of making a wind chime out of them.
Not only was I the ony rider for 53x11Coffee, I may have been the only rider from Washington state.
In any case, I highly recommend this fun and low key event for anyone in the Pacific Northwest area in early July.
All the best to Evan, Owen and my fellow teammates.
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

July 23, 2009

My Sincere Apologies to Evan (not Ewan)

Must have been the shock over Jens Voight's crash as he is my favorite rider.
Sorry Evan.
Ty

July 22, 2009

Message For Ewan

This is a test message for Ewan. My emails don't seem to reach you of late. Anway, thanks for all you do for the team. Any news about awards for the Tuesday night series that ends in August?
Thanks again for all your efforts. I am honored to fly the colors (both alter-ego and red)!
Ty (aka saddledancer)

July 21, 2009

THAT'S RACING!

By now you know I really do enjoy racing the Tuesday night series out in Kent at Pacific Raceways. Tonight was a 50 minute race with a clockwise loop of the 2+ mile circuit up the escape route, my 2nd most favorite of the 5 courses out there. It was clear, hazy and HOT (low 90s). There were about 30 riders in the 4/5 group and we took it at a sane pace for the most part due to the heat. I am not a fan of over 80 temps and manage as best I can. I drank a lot tonight and never had cramp issues. I did ride near the back for the most part but did ride strong up the 400 meter ramp, usually being in the top 10 at the top. It is a beautiful course and we race in view of Mount Rainier.
Before the start I had thought of breaking away with 3 laps to go but as the race progressed I just wanted to feel okay in the heat. Unfortunately for me I did break away up the escape route with 2 laps to go. All I did was maintain my pace while the others eased up. Before I knew it I was crossing the finish line with 2 laps to go with about a 200 meter lead. One rider did join me and we worked for a lap. The group was not in sight and I had dreams of finishing 2nd and getting some points. Alas my legs were not as strong as my imagination and I had to let my "break buddy" go. I was caught with a 1/2 lap to go and then flatted (rear) at the base of the escape route, ending up walking through the finish. I did get a high five from the race director and I think my "break buddy" won.
All in all a very fun race as usual. And I took the flat (like my wrong turn 2 weeks ago) in stride-THAT'S RACING!
All the best to Evan and my fellow teammates.
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

July 19, 2009

Just What I Needed


I live in Washington state, about 10 miles east of Seattle. I have a training ride I like to do at least once a year out near Mount Rainier, about a 90 minute drive from home. It starts at the Crystal Mountain ski station, which itself is the location of the Washington State Hillcimb Championships held in August, a 6 mile UPHILL tt race. I like to scope it out at least once before the race, but due to snow and road conditions the roads are not usually opened til June. I descend the 6 miles from the ski lodge to Highway 410, turn left and climb steadily for 20 minutes before turning right onto Sunrise, itself a 14 mile or so climb up to the Sunrise park, one approach climbers take to Mount Rainier. I then turn around and go back to Crystal Mountain, finishing with the 6 mile climb to the parking lot. My race team shot is from last year's Crystal Mtn race. I love the climb but love Sunrise more.


I am also a clerk for the King County District Court and deal with DUIs, rapists, and all sorts of happy situations on a daily basis. My mental state had dropped of late and I desperately needed a pick-me-up.


I like group rides, and by group I mean no more than 4 or 5 (rides where it is acceptable to blurt out "This would be a good place to dump a body" and not be ridiculed or scorned or judged). I leave the pack riding to races. I do so enjoy my solo rides though, and I had not had a good long one for a very long time. Yesterday's solo ride took just over three hours, when you take out the 3 stops up Sunrise for severe sweat/right eye irritation (so bad I was riding blind at points).


So Saturday found me riding down from the Crystal Mtn lot at 8:05 am, a bit chilly of a descent as I was only in my alter-ego s/s/ jersey and bb shorts. The climb up to the Sunrise parking lot was a blast as there was very little traffic and the entrance to the national park was free (usually $5 for cyclists). However, as previously mentioned I had to stop 3 times for severe sweat.right eye irritation which just started this last week. We have had very warm and clear conditions and I always run hot since moving here from the Northern Virginia area in 2003. I am originally from Southern California but have had "heat" issues since 2003. I lived in NortherVirginia for 7 years (1996-2003) where I biked and ran a lot in hot and humid conditions. Since moving to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2003 I have had issues when exercise in "over 80 degree" temps.


IT was very warm and sunny yesterday, and I just could not stop my eye irritation. Anway, I did do the ride and finished in a respectable time. I even saw 2 of my friends climbing sunrise as I descended.


I felt so refreshed after the ride and am ready for another week of MIPs, DUIS, DVs and what have you.


Keep the rubber side down!


Ty (aka Saddledancer)


















































































































July 7, 2009

Blame It On the New Kit?

I felt more like an extra in Deliverance (as in "you've done taken a wrong turn) than a competitor in a bike race tonight at the Tuesday night series out at Pacific. I will blame my infamous move on the new kit rather than my inattention. After all it was my first race in the all red kit and I wanted to make a good first impression. Forget that I have been racing the Tuesday night series for 6 years now and know all 5 courses intimately. Forget that tonight's course was on the flat, about a 2 mile oval, counter clockwise circuit. Maybe my mind was on the barbeque that was going to be held afterwards, an annual summer event that brings all that much closer together. Or maybe I was just a real goof.
In any event I spent most of the race at the back, but did attack two times, both into incredibly stiff headwinds. The first time was at the start of the 2nd lap. They didn't let me go. After pulling the 40 or so riders about 200 meters I sat up and took up my position at the back. Twenty minutes later I did it again and this time got a good gap. I never looked back as I went from dead last to first in about 100 meters. When I did look back I had a 50 meter or so lead. The course was changed a few weeks back as they installed a new sand escape lane for dragsters, forcing us to turn earlier than before. The new turn is also sharper but not too bad. The 1/2/3s were ahead and I saw them turn. I kept my head down and hammered away, turning on what I thought was the right road. Alas I was one lane short and had turned on a narrow maintenance road that ended at a concrete barrier. I was halfway on it when I realized my mistake. It was about that time when everyone yelled at me. Two guys followed me and were able to get back on. I had to ride slowly along the barrier to the real road, and had to wait fir the pack to go by. By the time I got going I was unable to bridge the gap as the pack really pushed on a slight downhill with a tailwind. I finally sat up and decided to ride easy til they caught me on the next lap. But then the Masters passed me and I opted to sit on the back like last week. We eventually caught my 4/5 group that had to go neutral as the Masters passed. I was able to jump back onto the group and ride with them for the last 3 laps. I gave everyone a laugh, including myself. The veggie burger was very tasty as well.
Enough for now. Lesson learned? Just enjoy the ride!
Ty (aka Saddledancer aka Wrong Way)

July 2, 2009

The New Kit Rocks!

No race report. Just kudos for the new kit. It looks so good (or so my girlfriend says:). I can't wait to fly the new colors.
Have a great and safe 4th!
Oh I my race a crit on the 4th and of course will write about it if I do:)
Ty (Saddledancer)

July 1, 2009

Not Enough Words

I don't know how to describe last night's race out at Pacific in Kent. The Cliffnotes Version-my hardest ever?
The course was my least favorite, which was the opposite of last week's race, meaning D...O...W...N the S turn. The approach is down a straight ramp of about 100 meters, which comes about a mile into the race. You then hit the S itself, a severe chicane, another one hundred meters. Cars and motorcycles race out there year round, and if Porches and Ducatis crash, just think about our lil ol two wheel ti, steel, carbon and aluminum machines. I myself did crash a few years back going down the Escape Route, which is just a continuance of the entrance ramp. I was okay, save for some road rash on my shins, but my derailleur hanger on my Carbon Look was busted.
Anyhow, "Down the S" is not favored by many racers, and one of my training buddies even skipped out last night when he found out we would be riding that course. And he is much better (and younger than me:) The fear of course is crashes, especially with all the newbies in the 4/5s.
The 4/5s started first of the three groups, and we raced for 64 minutes, about 12 laps. We did have a crash, but it was on the long flat near the start and at the start of the 2nd lap when riders slowed and someone was not paying attention. A rider off to my right went down and I heard that familiar but unwanted sound.
I always hang back on this course, picking my line through the S, then working like heck to rejoin during the next 1/2 mile, consisting of a few uphill rollers. We then have about 1.5 miles of flat where sometimes I make a break. But not last night. Last night was no different except for the no attacking. I was able to ride the route 3 times before the start so I was a bit familiar with it. One positive aspect is that the S turn is a very nice and smooth surface, compared to the Escape Route which has a lot of ruts and pot holes (hence my crash).
I was off the back each of the first 3 laps at the bottom of the S and worked like heck to rejoin. Thank goodness all my local training rides consist of a lot of traffic lights at the start and finish which condition me to really work it for short periods (i.e. intervals). The 4th lap was a prime, and we were all (30 riders) strung out. The finish of the race was at the top of the rollers following the S turn, and when we crossed the line for the Prime I was way off the back with several others. I had pretty much thrown in the towel by then, thinking the next 40 minutes would be a nice tempo ride. But alas we were passed by the 1/2/3s, and a buddy of mine thought we could pace off them to rejoin our pack when it went neutral while the 1/2/3s passed it. It worked and I was able to pull 4 guys back up. It felt really good to be thanked for my efforts. I am more of a domestique than a star. But I was toast and hung at the back for the next 4 laps. I then pretty much gave up the fight at 40 minutes to go when we hit the top of the rollers, but right when I sat up and let everyone go, I decided to try and give it another shot. No real ego on my part. It just seemed that the group wasn't hammering. So I did. And again I caught the pack just before the S turn. 2 laps later I was about to sit up again when we were caught by the Masters and had to go neutral again. Some guys up front broke the rules and long standing tradition of going neutral and went with the "really good older guys and gals." The rest of us kind of neutralized. It still was a tough finish but I hung in there. I somehow ended up with a group of Masters mixed in with the 4/5s. I was so wiped afterwards but quite satisfied.
I even was approached afterwards by a rider from Garage (a very good local squad). He loved the Alter Ego kit (which is very similar to Garage in coloring-black with some red and white). I told him all about the company and the website.
My girlfriend describes me as Sticky. If you have read Ten Points you know what I mean. Last night I was more like Stretch Armstrong (if you are in my age bracket you know what I mean:)).
I may not have laughed or socialized but I did enjoy the ride. And that is what counts. Right Jeff?
Enough for now. Get well Jeff!
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

June 30, 2009

Raccoon Rally RR & MTB

The Raccoon Rally is a cycling festival in Alleghany State Park just outside of Salamanca, New York in the southwestern part of the state. It is held annually in the last weekend of June and is promoted by HeartRateup.com. In addition to the road race and cross country race on Saturday and Sunday respectively, there is also a downhill MTB race, a short track XC race, and a trials competition. I signed up to compete in the masters 40+ race on the road and the Sport class MTB race. I had competed in the same events at this race two years ago and have been looking forward to this year's races.
Road Race - I arrived at the park early on Saturday since the masters race was scheduled to start at 9:40. I had plenty of time to get ready and get a decent warm-up. The course is a 24.7 loop around the Alleghany State Park perimeter road which contains two steady 5-6 miles 3-5% climbs and two similar descents. For the masters race we do two laps. In 2007 I was dropped about 1/3-1/2 of the way up the first climb. My goal this year was to hang with the group as long as possible. Before I talk about the race I want to mention all the 53x11 riders I saw at the race. From the web site I thought there were only two riders in NY but apparently there are many more than that. There were at least 6 53x11 riders in the road race that I could see. Here is a photo of some of them. This was the cat 5/citizens race.

Anyway, the race started calm enough as we approached the base of the first climb. Right when we hit the climb there were a couple of surges but I was able to stay with the group. I was pleased with myself as I was comfortably sitting in spinning my compact crank chatting with a guy from Hamilton, Ontario. About 2/3 -3/4 of the way up the climb there was a crash right in the middle of the group. Three guys went down and blocked the center of the road. I had about ten feet to maneuver so I was OK but the guy from Hamilton I had been chatting with was just ahead of me and to the left. When the crash occurred he swerved right across my path so I had to come to a complete stop. I didn't go down but I lost contact with the group who seemed to accelerate when they heard the crash. I watched the guy from Hamilton continue off the road and crash in the woods. He wasn't hurt so it was fairly comical. There were several of us who were detached at that point so I was looking to hook up and work with some others but I couldn't make contact. So I latched onto the cat 5 group when they went by. They were really flying along at 35-40 mph on the downhill and false flat just past the descent. When we got to the base of the second climb we turned the corner and a lot of damage began. People were getting dropped all around. I decided to shift to my small ring and spin again as I had done on the first climb, but when I shifted I dropped the chain. I had to stop to put it back on so I got dropped from that group. I finished the first lap and started the second and saw a few folks in front of me that I thought I could catch. One guy stopped for a nature break and I passed him. I saw another guy, Ron Rosenburg and decided to try to catch him. I kept slowly closing the gap and caught him just past where the crash occurred on the first lap. We chatted a little while and then got to work sharing pulls down the descent. As we approached the base of the second climb we saw three guys just making the turn ahead of us so they gave us some motivation. We caught them fairly quickly on the climb and Ron chose to accelerate after the last guy. I chose to spin and we both caught him about halfway up although Ron pulled away from me. I ended up 20th out of 23 which was not bad for a days work, plus I was saving myself for the XC race the next day.


XC Race - Much to my dismay, I was having some issues with my MTB such that I could not use the middle chain ring or the fifth cog of the cassette or the chain would jump. I knew this before the race so I was able to make the best of it. The rain I had no control over but was not counting on. Plus, I had a 6+ hour drive home after the race and I had promised my wife and children I would be home in time for dinner. For these reasons and the fact that the Beg race started first and was only 13 miles while the Sport race started last (10:32) and was 20 miles I decided to do the Beg race instead of Sport. Two years ago on a dry day I finished fourth in the beg 40+ class in a time of ~1:06:30. I was hoping to better that time but the elements and my bike did not help. I started out well and within the first mile I was probably in the top twenty overall. I did have to stop due to a shifting problem but over came that quickly. The first four miles are all steady uphill and I caught a good dozen more riders before the top. I was enjoying the double track trails and rolling hills throughout the course. There is a short single track section followed by the Bova cross country ski hill that descends down a gutter of switchbacks about 400'. With the rain it was very treacherous. Here's a photo of someone losing it on Bova.

I did not want to do that so I bailed over the bars, landed on my feet and ran down the rest of the way. I ended up passing maybe three or four folks while being passed by two who rode. I ended up finishing third in the Beg 40+ in a time of 1:09:39 and ninth overall. It was fun and I made it home to MD by 6:00 pm.

First Memphis Race




In 2009 myself, along with two friends (Jason and John Hurdle) decided to work ourselves into a group ride to improve our fitness, biking and group riding. After a few months, we joined up with 53x11 Coffee to further validate our place in the Memphis bike community. Immediately, with the incredible 53x11 kits, we were accepted as part of the group . . . something that had been missing even though we were there every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:45 a.m. trying to hold on with the group (usually 50+ riders). We have all progressed as the year has passed and recently took part in our first race. It was the Smith and Nephew / Marx and Bensdorf Grand Prix. As a Cat5, we had a 32 mile road race (rolling hills), 4 mile TT and 30 minute Crit. Since fitness has been my main driving force, my goals were modest – finish all the events and finish somewhere ahead of last place. Trying to punish the Cat 5s, the road race started at 11:15 and with our luck, a heat index of 111 degrees. It was tough but John and I were able to hang on with the lead pack until mile 6-7 and Jason hung in through mile 14. We all accomplished the “better than last” place and finished the race in the searing heat. The time trial was short but being worn out from the morning, my time was not what I would have envisioned. Finally, the last event on Sunday was the Criterium, 30-minutes of a 1-mile loop. Seeing that I have never watched a Crit, much less competed in one, I was amazed at the speed of the Cat 3s and 4s the race before us. However, my amazement quickly turned to cautiousness when their race saw three wrecks, along with the three ambulance visits. Our race was exciting and all three of us competed as hard as we could (from pic above, I was in the black kit in the middle of the pack at the end of lap 2 and Jason was just in front of me with the white kit - but hidden behind another rider) and learned what we need to do if we want to compete as opposed to participate. From the race, I learned that I need to build a much better base before I start worrying about the speed the speed. We appreciate the support of Evan and 53x11 Coffee and have had many compliments on the kits. I cannot wait for the reds to show up at my front door!

It only hurts when I laugh

Years ago in a USCF Racer Training course the session coach said “there are two types of cyclists; those that have crashed and those about to crash.” During that part of the training we were taught not to extend your arm in a fall (could fracture your arm or collarbone) and try to tuck-and-roll in a fall.

Feeling rejuvenated about my racing and having modified my training plan after I did the Denver City Park Crit - I was out on a training ride before work that following Friday morning. The plan was to do about a 30+ mile ride with a few sprint intervals tossed in. About a few miles into my ride I made a mistake that ended the ride. Somewhere between slow motion and a blink of an eye I found myself heading for the ground, tucking my left arm, and landing on that left shoulder and side. All with the impact that felt more like a hit by a Denver Bronco lineman versus an average fall. Moments later sitting on the sidewalk I realized something was wrong with my left shoulder – “So this is what it feels like to go -Thud- like a Pro cyclist!”, I thought. The “prize” – some road rash, a separated left collarbone, two cracks in the shoulder blade – one slightly torn 53x11 jersey; but hey the bike is OK! (still trying to laugh about it Ty!)

Between being frustrated about the crash and the big detour in my training plan (755mi since Jan-09) I have been reading VeloNews and other stuff around the Web. An article on the PezCycling News website under their ToolBox section is helping me put things into place. Marvin Zauderer (http://www.pezcyclingnews.com/default.asp?pg=fullstory&id=6684) wrote a follow-up piece about the Garmin-Slipstream pro Steven Cozza and some fellow cyclists who are recovering from traumatic cycling crashes. (P.S. Chris Carmichael and Bicycling had a good article about Lance’s collarbone comeback too.)

What I am learning as I start my recovery is that I’ll have to be patient and not jump to early (hmm sounds like racing tactics), that it is OK to take it to the indoor trainer, I can reset my training plan and still remain focused on the Fall CX season. And finally a little depression is normal with such a huge change in my training and lifestyle.

Jeff