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.


June 28, 2009

Kits, Cigs and perfect scores

I was so happy to receive my latest Velo News mag and see that 53x11 coffee took a perfect 10 in the taste test. I have given bags to friends and they all rave about it. Now every cyclist everywhere knows we represent a quality product:)
And it was so nice to see the new kit design. I myself prefer the black alter-ego and will ride that as much as possible; but the all red will catch an eye or two now and then. I did buy a kit and have told all my training buddies to look out for me. They say the beans on the alter ego look like hamburgers and that the beans on the original kits look like stitch marks/scars. I don't care as the black/red/white really looks good. The all red looks very similar to a very good team in this area (Carter VW). And that is a good thing.
Now for a race report. I raced the Pacific Series last Tuesday and we rode my favorite course for the one and only time this year-up the S turns, about a 200 meter severe stretch that is a beautiful S turn, part of an overall 2 mile route with some downhill rollers before the climb. You can hit it at speed and then muscle up the last 1/2. It is very unpopular so the race director has made it a one time deal. Too bad!!! I attacked on the first lap as is my usual practice, went solo and got caught on the S turn, then attacked again on the second lap, taking a much younger rider with me. We got caught around the same spot. I then played around in the pack and socialized with a few guys near the rear. I did help some friends pull a few times and finished about 15th out of the 30. About 45 or 50 started but many were "newbies" so they got dropped early. One such newbie had clip on tri bars and smoked before and after the race. We were rather dumbfounded but to each his own. And some great riders have smoked. Definitely not in my training regime though. And yes I had a laugh or two during the hour of racing.
One last thing-a shout out to our new rider Jeffer from Colorado. Glad to have you aboard!
Ty (Saddledancer)

Spring bicycle racing in Colorado!

Hello everyone, I’m Jeff and a newbie to Team 53x11 Coffee for 2009. After several years out of the sport I’ve decided to re-license, aka start over as a Cat 4/5 Roadie, with my interest in racing Cyclocross in the fall/winter.

This weekend (June 7th) I decided to test by training by doing the Denver City Park Criterium at the Denver Zoo and Natural History Museum Park. It was shown as a large flat course (2 mi loop) with some nice tight corners (2 at 35degrees), a few Traffic Circles, and three long straights. (per below map, it went count-clockwise)

Team 53x11 Coffee - Denver branch (me, Dog Jack, and wife Erin) got to the course about 11 am. I got myself checked in for the 2 pm SM 35+/4s.Then we went to walk the course and watch the other groups go around. We set up near the Start/Finish line with my Cyclops and Cheering Section. The SM Cat 2/3s started their 75 minute race while we watched the clouds start to darken and build. About half way through their race the rain started plus the wind and then the pea sized HAIL (welcome to spring time in Colorado)! So on they raced with Team 5280 (Garmin-Slipstream Development Team) kicking some tail and a few crashes reported across the course. Before the final corner and finish sprint the Moto-Marshall neutralized the race to the dismay of many of the SM 2/3s; it wasn’t too clear who they awarded the race to. (Remind me to thank the Weather Guy for the light 30% chance of showers!)

And now the staging for my SM 35+/4s - along with the Marshall telling us to take a neutral lap to preview the course; and the result of the rain. I get a spot in the second row on the right side which was perfect for the first left corner on the course. Off we go and I hit the guy in front of me who is having pedal trouble which causes me to pop out of mine – RATS! When I finally get clipped in I have gone from front row to sprinting to catch the 300 meters I lost. Catching up to the pack I am sitting somewhere about one-half to three-quarters in the field. As we are making our laps I hear a rider from Green Mountain Sports say “Do you think they’ll let us all do a pit stop to put on fenders… ha ha?” Another laughs back, “Just turn on your wipers!” Meanwhile water and grit is flying off everyone’s wheels at 29+ mph… “Damn - I forgot how fast Crits can wind out” I say to myself. After getting caught on the wrong side of a few puddles I lost contact with main field at about lap 4, got lapped on the 6th; but continue to hammer along. At lap 7 myself and about six riders behind me get waived off by the Marshall as we come across the Start/Finish.

So I finished somewhere around 40th out of 50 starters with 36 recorded unlaped finishers. All in all I feel good despite the rain-hail-cold-mud and for guy who hasn’t raced for 10 yrs. But I’m going to modify my training plan to add in some sprint intervals.

June 20, 2009

Horribly Hilly 2009 - Yowsa!

Hey all,

Just got home after completing the 100k Horribly Hilly Hundreds near Madison, WI. I'm proud to say I never had to dismount the bike on any of the climbs - only at the rest stops to refill the bottles. This is a crazy hilly climb for us Midwesterners, there aren't a lot of hills around, and these are pretty severe. Not as bad as they get I'm sure, but plenty challenging. If Chicago is awarded the 2016 Olympics, the road races will be held in this area near Mt. Horeb, WI.

I got a lot of comments on the 53x11 kit. We got lucky with a beautiful day in the mid-80's after a few severe thunderstorms had passed through on the days prior - a little hot & muggy, but it's the Midwest, we like our summers humid. My bike performed flawlessly, I think I'm a Campy convert - it's like butter...
Anybody else ever done this torture test?
Naperville, IL

June 14, 2009

If You Can't Laugh Then It's Not Worth It

Cycling keeps me sane. It is the core to my overall "being." It defines me. I am a court clerk, a boyfriend, a cat owner, a son, a brother, a nephew, an uncle, a cousin, a grandson, but first and foremost I am a cyclist. I take my riding seriously, but not that seriously. If I didn't enjoy it and didn't get a kick out of it I wouldn't do it. But I do enjoy it. And I get a kick out of it. Example-last Tuesday out at Pacific we raced for 47 minutes for the 4/5s. I attacked at the end of the first lap and dangled for about a 1/2 mile. On the 2nd lap I almost went again, and played with the front of the group, fake attacking and laughing several times. I then socialized in the back and pulled up front for the rest of the race. I finished 1/2 way back, being pullled by Chris, by the far the most valuable rider of the series as he is ALWAYS pulling the group. He jumped as I passed him in the closing 400 meters, and I caught his wheel and laughed all the way to the line as I felt like I was drafiting behind a Fed Ex truck (which I have done).
So, keep it simple, keep it clean, leep it safe, but most importantly keep it FUN.
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

June 6, 2009

An Addicted Roadie Samples the Velodrome

Well I finally did it. I have been a roadie for 29 years. I love being able to shift, free wheel and to put my handspursuit or kilo on the track, but to do si anywhere on the bars I feel like (or off the bars if I wish). I have watched track racing in California and here in Washington. I even assisted with the 1983 pre-Olympic track events at the then new venue in Dominquez Hills, California. Well, after shelling out $50 I was able to attend a 4 hour training class today at the Marymorr Park Velodrome in Redmond, WA. After a week of record heat we had cool and lustery conditions with "some" sprinkles. Not enough to cancel the class but close. We had a few delays throughout the session to see what the clouds would do. I have wanted to ride the pursuit or kilo on the track, but to do so I have to be at least a Cat4. To do that I had to attend the class and two Thursday night race sessions. I at least have the class under my belt.
There were two instructors and 30 students, including a judge I used to work with. What a small world! We practiced mounting/dismounting, riding in a pace line, following the leader, riding two abreast and pulling off, riding two breats and touching each other on the hip, riding two abreast and leaning into each other, and mass starts. I did fall during the mass start practice when the rail (actually the entrance gate to the infield) I was pushing off gave way (it was not locked. The loaner bike was fine but my butt and elbow got banged up some. No biggie. We finished the day with a 400 meter tt. Iloved it.
I recommend that you all try the track, even if just for 4 hrs:)

June 2, 2009

Just Like Riding A Bike

Well it took 5.5 months, but I found a job. I began working as a Court Clerk yesterday for the King County District Court in Seattle, WA. I worked for the Court for two years but moved to another division last year in a temporary position (was to become permanent but did not due to budget cuts). It feels so good to be back with the Court and to be employed. I want to thank all my teammates and Evan/Owen for their support. Riding every day kept me sane.
I did race tonight out at Pacific, and I attacked on the first lap but got caught and dropped a few laps later. The heat and humidity affected me BAD but I was able to hang with the Masters when they caught me so that was an upside.
Again thanks to everyone for their support.
Keep on riding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!