Thursday, May 28, 2009

Greenbelt, Flats and Inflation

I've only ever flatted 3 times while riding. The first was on the very first time I've ever decided to ride to work. While on Rock Creek Parkway, heading to Beach Dr. at about 4:30 in the morning I hit one of those grates and flatted my rear tire. I had recently just ditched my frame pump and started carrying CO2. Unfortunately, I had never used or knew how to use the CO2. I wasted half the cartridge trying to figure out how to use it. Eventually I was able to get about 45 psi in the tire, which was enough to get me to work and to a bike shop later in the day.

The second time I flatted was my first double flat. I was on the way home after the Goon ride on Tuesday. Heading down Connecticut Ave. I hit a pothole right at Chevy Chase Circle. Of course I was only carrying one tube, but at least two CO2 cartridges. I fixed the front tire because I figured that would give me the most control and then patched the back with duct tape. I filled the back tire with the second cartridge and kept heading down Conn. Ave. I made it to about Nebraska Ave. before the air shot out of the back tire again. I rode the rim from Connecticut and Nebraska all the way to Hains Point where my truck was parked. That 7 miles probably took me a good hour and a half to ride.

The 3rd time I've ever flatted was at Greenbelt yesterday. DOUBLE FLAT on lap 3, over and out. I watched the race from the sidelines and got to see Tim Rugg get yelled at by the ref. Pure entertainment!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Validation at RFK

I didn't want to be one of those people that upgraded from a 4 to a 3 without having ever felt what a win feels like and once I became a 3 I didn't just want to sit around in the Cat 3 races content at just having upgraded. I felt and still feel like I can be competitive in the 3's. I think I've said before most of the guys that are 3's I've ridden with before anyways, so it's not like they're a whole new group of people who I've never been around.

Yesterday, I won the 3/4 race at RFK. I definitely had to work for this win which makes it that much more sweet. Most of the guys that are leading in the MABRA bar for the 3's were there and I knew I wanted to have a good showing because I wanted to prove to myself that I could compete in the Cat 3's. I knew this course favored the sprinters and I was excited because it's one of the few races where the final 200M are nice and flat and wide to really just let the legs go. My focus was to just stay out of the wind and to fight for good position in the last 2 laps leading to the finish. Everything went according to plan and since I wasn't really too concerned about people breaking away, I was able to relax and little more and let the race just happen. Coming into the bell lap I had good position and the other bigger teams that were at the front were starting to ramp up the pace. First Steve Anderson from DC Velo came shooting up to the front to drive the pace then I think ABRT came to the front to up the pace, then Bike Rack came up to keep the tempo, but making that turn into the headwind kind of jeopardized my positioning because we were starting to get swarmed at the front as people were moving up the outside. As we approached the final turn, I could see Stephen Wahl was in front of me. I've seen and heard about this guy. He's good and he wins and that's all I needed to know to know that I wanted to be on his wheel coming out of the final turn. I got boxed in a little and was worried that when we came out of the finally turn people were going to be in front of me and I wasn't fully going to be able to open up the sprint. Fortunately as we were turning a wonderful little piece of real estate opened up right in front of me and I took it. Just as I was exiting the turn I could see and hear Stephen shifting gears and I knew I had to get on with the sprint. We were starting it early and I wasn't sure if either one of us would hold it all the way to the line. Then I wasn't sure if I was even going to be able to pass him. I just kept digging and digging and I think I just nudged past a foot from the line. Sprints like that are always so much fun.

Anyway, now I feel like my upgrade has been validated. There a lot more races to go and a few more that I really want to win. During the off season I sat down with the upcoming race schedule and picked out all my "A" races and "B" races, like training books tell you to do. I was gonna be a good boy and follow all these strict plans to be really competitive so I could win all my "A" races. But when it really comes down to it, I'm way too competitive to even have that attitude and categorize every race as A or B. When I register for the race, I want to win it and it automatically becomes an A race. That's the bottom line for me. The only thing that changes for me from winning at Tradezone to winning at RFK is how happy I am afterwards. But in both races I'm going to ride just as hard. Fortunately, I don't have the most organized team right now and since we never really talk about who we're racing for and what we want to do as a team, I know when I take the line I can just try to win.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Glasses and Greenbelt

Being blind and all I normally wear glasses or contacts. Being poor and all I'm not going to spring for prescription sunglasses either so my regular glasses service as my eyeball protectors when I ride. But, when I'm wearing my contacts I wear some Tifosi Dolomites that I picked up from Bicycle Place. They are pretty stylish to me and they come with interchangeable lenses. You still get some wind in the eyes but normally that's not a big deal to me...unless it's allergy season. Every year when the seasons are transitioning from spring to summer, I typically get pretty bad allergies. It doesn't effect my breathing or anything like that, only my eyeballs. They get all red and itchy and I end up looking like I've taken up recreational ganja usage. There have been some bike rides where I was seriously thinking about wearing swimming goggles or some kind of snorkel mask to keep my eyes protected. One day, during the 10 o'clock ride this winter, there was a guy wearing skiing goggles. But those would be too heavy to wear during the spring and summer. Until I find the perfect solution I'll continue to deal with the redness and just take a Zyrtec so they don't itch. On to Greenbelt....
So much fun! I'm really enjoying myself in the "A" race. This time I tried to relax a lot more than last week and it helped. Just for me, it's amazing to actually get an up close and personal view of how some of our region's top riders ride. Seeing how guys effortlessly move through the pack, or fly uphill, or attack, or cover breaks is one thing watching from the sidelines but it's a whole different animal when you're right there to see it. At the end of it all, I was out of position to contest the sprint, which sucked because I felt good coming up the hill the last time. Being out of position though, when those front 5 guys took off and others started to drop off the pace, a nice little (read HUGE) gap opened. All the sprint in the world couldn't close that gap. Next time I know that if I'm feeling that good, I definitely have to make more of a conscious and aggressive effort to put myself up front with the guys that are actually going to sprint. All in all I finished in the top 10 at 8th.

Monday, May 18, 2009

"The Finger" and Bike Jam

I consider myself to be a nice guy. I'm not one of those people that yells or curses in the peleton when people hit the brakes or cut me off or touch my wheel, or any other reason you would find to yell or curse at someone in that kind of situation. I figure, such is racing, and if I get bent out of shape every time that happened, then I would never enjoy myself when I raced. But, yesterday at Bike Jam, in the 2/3 race I, D.J., in a moment of indiscretion, did indeed give someone "the finger".

To whoever that person was, I offer my apology, not because I feel like you didn't deserve it, but because it was completely out of character for me. I think in the heat of the moment, you (John Doe who was the recipient of the finger) where just running your mouth and yelling so much that I got a little, or a lot, tired of it. I never understand how people like you could claim to be racing, and putting out the kind of effort that it takes to win, but still muster up enough energy to scream and yell throughout the race. Do you really think people respond to that approach? Because I certainly do not. It's just mind boggling. I also do not understand how you could continue to ride behind me? It's like in traffic when a slow car is driving in the fast lane and you tailgate them, then flash your high beams and they still don't move, you eventually get frustrated enough to just go around them. Apparently you had been behind me long enough to analyze my riding style, diagnose my problems, figure out I had no business being in that race, and then offer a solution, "moving to the back of the (expletive deleted) group!" If my riding style bothered you so, why would you not just come around me. You are obviously a person far more skilled than I am who would've had no problem moving up to the front of that group. After a while I didn't hear your voice anymore so either my finger worked or you did decide to just move on up to the front where it was much safer.

Anyways, I offer my apology again to "that guy". I had to get that off my chest in order to say how much I enjoyed myself at Bike Jam. That was my second race as a Cat 3, or first if you don't really count Greenbelt. I didn't get in a warm-up at all because I was too distracted on actually getting into the race. I pre-registered as a Cat 4, but got my upgrade. I had to wait until check-in for the 2/3 race was closed before the organizers would let me in, which was only 20 minutes before the start. Fortunately, I at least was already hydrating in hopes that I would get in, but 20 minutes only left me with enough time to get the rest of my kit on, number pinned and head to the course entrance for good positioning at the start line. I felt like the race started off pretty fast and I could tell that I was nowhere near warmed up. I was surprised how fast the race stayed, but that wasn't a problem at all. What killed me was not being able to move up in that race, and it seemed like as soon as I moved up, somehow, some way I would end up slowly moving backwards. It seemed like I was yo-yo-ing somewhere between 20th and 40th, if that makes sense. But I learned, at least for next year, that positioning is everything in that race.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Inaugural Greenbelt

After the recent excitement of upgrading to a Cat 3, reality started to set in. I slowly realized that now I had to race as a Cat 3...and Greenbelt was the very next day. That meant I would have to do the "A" race, which meant I would have to race 1's and 2's and people who have been 3's much longer than I have, which meant this race would be much faster and longer than the "B" race, which meant I could possibly get dropped, which meant shame and embarrassment, which would lead to hanging up the see what I'm getting at. Actually, I would never hang up the bike.
But anyway, I was still excited that the Greenbelt series was now getting underway. It now gave me something to look forward to on Hump Day that didn't involve scantily clad women on Kyle's blog. This really won't be a race report because I think I was so on edge the whole time that I was only paying attention to what was going on in my personal bubble and just trying to be as safe as possible. Ace from ABRT actually realized this and spoke to me afterwards because he could see my arms were all locked out while I was riding and I didn't quite looked relaxed. I could also feel it in my upper body after the race was over that I was more tense than usual. My hands were actually starting to cramp towards the end of the race.
In the end I was excited that I finished and I finished in 7th. I'll take that any day. I was also excited that I got to ride with some Artemis Elite guys as well. I definitely look forward more to the experience that comes with riding with 1's and 2's and the different things that I'll learn along the way.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I'm a Cat 3 suckaz! Oh boy!