Sunday, August 31, 2008

GMSR Prologue, Stage 1, and Stage 2

On Thursday, Katie and I, the dogs, two bikes, and two and a half wheelsets made the trip to Vermont for 10 days of vacation and the Green Mountain Stage Race.

I originally signed up for the Cat 3 race, but made a last minute change to the 30-39 master's field after realizing the start times in that race better suited our travel plans (which included a change of lodging on Saturday). So, instead of racing against 100 other Cat 3's, I am racing against 45 mostly Cat 1's, 2's, and 3's. (I learned this info by cyber stalking the competiton on

The prologue was a 5.7 mile time trial with about 2.5 miles of up (gaining around 500 feet), 2.5 miles of down, a steep little hill, and a false flat to the finish. I rode it as well as I thought I could and came in at 26th place with a 15:56, nearly two mintes off of the leader (who posted a time nearly a minute faster than the winning Cat 3 and who would have been 12th of 126 riders if he had done the Pro-1-2 race with lots of good regional and national teams like Symetrics, TargetTraining, etc.).

The warm up tent (click photos for larger image)

The start




Stage 1
Stage 1 was a two-lap, 65-mile circuit race with about 3000 feet of climbing, two King of the Mountains sprints, and one points sprint. The pace was pretty high throughout, and the afternoon sun made the race hotter than the temperature said it was. I finished 29th with the front group/main field in a mass sprint. We dropped around 15 guys on the KOM's, especially on the second lap. We actually dropped a lot more than 15, but many clawed their way back on the several mile long, winding descent after the hill.

As we approached the finish the moto pulled off at 500m to give us the whole road. I started to come around to contest the sprint at around 300m, and my legs began to seize (literally). After I crossed the line, I coasted alsmost to a standstill and nearly dropped my bike because I could not move my legs. That hurt, but I managed to finish with the leaders.

The field aproaching the line (I don't remember if this is the finish or the first lap points sprint)


Stage 2
Stage 2 was a 75 mile death march with several thousand feet of climbing and two major climbs between 1500 and 2000 feet of elevation gain. It finished at the top of Appalachain Gap, a 10 mile climb with the last 4k averaging 10% and the last 500m being 20%.

I was dropped with 500m to go before the top of the first major climb/KOM (Brandon Gap) at mile 35, caught back on a few miles later, then stayed with the lead group until about 7 miles from the base of the last climb. The goal was to stay with the leaders until the base of the last climb. Oh well. I then lost some serious time on the last climb and finished totally shattered, 25 minutes down from the winner.

The drive to Stage 2

The start

The finish




Me near the finish

At 100m to go

Burlington Criterium
The Burlington Crit is tomorrow. I currently sit in 33rd place out of 45 starters. Despite having it handed to me royally today, this race is serious fun and is run with amazing precision for a race with 800 total participants.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

She's Crafty

Problem: I lost my nifty orange armwarmers, which I will likely need for this week's race.

Solution: Katie makes me new ones, in about 10 minutes.



Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I am an interloper

And so is Ray and Brett, who were also kindly allowed to take part in the Team Spin/Spin Multisport Team two-person time trial tonight in downtown Cleveland, despite the fact that we are not members of either of those teams.

The night consisted of meeting up with Ray and Thom D., then riding to the race, getting randomly paired up with Brett, and riding pretty darn hard for 10 miles, half of which was into (what felt like) gale force winds coming from the east off of the lake. We then rode home, barely making it home before nightfall.

A fine time was had by all, and it served as good training for the stage 1 (Eddy Mercx style!!) time trial at the GMSR, which begins a week from Friday.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Who was it that said crit racers have no brains?

Some people say that life imitates art. It also imitates high school, at least for some pro bike racers at this weekend's USA Cycling Pro Criterium Championship in Downers Grove, Illinois.

Apparently, recent Tour de France podium contender, Olympian, and Chicago-raised Christian Vande Velde showed up for the pro race. He attacked the field in the middle of the race, took a $400 prime lap, and stayed off of the front in a solo breakaway for six laps before being caught by the chasing field.

According to this article on

[Pro racer and former teammate of Vande Velde Antonio] Cruz said the peloton was at first unimpressed with the Olympian in their midst.
"A lot of these [racers] were like, 'Whoo, hoo, Christian Vande Velde, Tour de France, big deal.' And then when he hit it, you hear some guys talking trash. Then two laps later we're strung out and nobody's talking, and Christian is gaining ground.
"It actually really pisses me off. There are a lot of disrespectful guys. They need to go to Europe and see what it's like before they talk."

In other words, a bunch of domestic pro cyclists barely scrapping by on teams with tight budgets (with a few exceptions) took issue with an international cycling star in their midst. One whom in no way was going to contest the crazy finish at this race (absent a successful breakaway), and one whose name alone creates a great deal of publicity and media attention based upon his recent success at the Tour de France and participation in the Beijing Games.

Domestic professional bike racing has been a fringe sport in this country ever since the decline of track racing in the first half of the 20th century. Major domestic races are routinely canceled (Tour of Utah 2007) or downsized (Tour de 'Toona 2008) as a result of lack of sponsorship money. You'd think that domestic racers would welcome the increased attention and free publicity that comes with a racer like Vande Velde at an event like Downer's Grove. Instead, they acted like cliquish high school kids threatened by the presence of the new kid who is going to steal their girlfriends.

There are two sides to every story, and there is always the chance that Vande Velde did something at the race to cause this stir. Until I hear something along those lines, I'm going to have to say that dissing Vande Velde was pretty damn lame and shows a real lack of class. If nothing else, it demonstrates a lack of common sense if you actually want to see this sport grow on this side of the pond.

A plug

This upcoming Saturday, August 23, 2008 is SnakeBiteRacing's annual Valley City Street Fair Road Race in Valley City, Ohio. This year's race includes the Ohio USCF master's championships for men and women, as well as many other category-based races, including a women's 2/3 race and a women's 4/Citizen's race. A detailed race flier is here.

The price is also right, as all men's races are $18 and women's races are $10 for licensed racers!!

Yes, I am involved in this race, so take my opinion with a grain of salt....but, this is great race on a great course.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Another tragedy, more ignorance

For those who have yet to hear, John Carroll University biology professor Dr. Miles Coburn was involved in a bicycling accident and killed on Saturday morning. It was at an intersection we east siders regularly ride when going to or from Burton. The tragic story first appeared here, then was updated here. Send your thoughts, prayers, vibes, etc. to his family and friends. Also keep in mind the person driving the automobile involved in the accident, who must be devastated.

To make this story even more disturbing, here are some comments in response to the initial Plain Dealer online article. Yes, I know, pointing out the ignorance of people who comment on internet news articles is akin to shooting large, slow fish in a barrel. The problem is that these people have our lives in their hands every time they encounter us on the roads. That is truly scary.
Posted by Buckeyebobby on 08/17/08 at 12:41PM
As for the cyclist killed on route 44, these people are playing with fire. I see them all the time out in Geauga County cycling the backroads. The trip is scenic and the rural roads more quiet than the urban ones, but these roads are often narrow and hilly, several times I've almost hit cyclists coming around corners in my work truck.

Posted by chaosad948 on 08/17/08 at 10:56PM
I lived in Geauga County for 7 years and I will tell you that it is a diffcult county to DRIVE in, let alone cycle! Everyone goes like 50-60 MPH everywhere bc it takes 20 minutes to get anywhere...I don't think cycling should be allowed on certain roads there...kind of like the "No Truck Route signs...No Cycling Route....seriously...

I'm really glad that some motorists think cyclists should stay off of the rural streets because the motorists are too lazy and selfish to drive at safe speeds on dangerous roads.

Why is banning bikes the solution to dangerous roads, opposed to safer vehicle speeds?

Everyone, please be safe.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Well said

"The thing about the masks is they're USOC masks...a doctor from the USOC sent a note saying, 'You should wear these masks in all transportation centers.' The fact that the USOC didn't back that wasn't very cool."

Taylor Phinney's response to the controversy over the use of air pollution masks by some members of the U.S. Olympic track team when they arrived in Beijing, courtesy of an article from the Denver Post.

I'm glad the USOC issued the masks, advised the athletes to wear them, then, according to this NYT article, scolded them for wearing them. Way to make a bunch of first time Olympians diplomatic scapegoats.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

An hour in hell

Many people give me weird looks when I try to describe cyclocross to them. From now on, I'll just send them this video.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Orrville Milk Race

38 racers showed up for today's Cat 2/3 Milk Race in Orrville, Ohio. For SBR, it was Tom K., Pete S., and myself. This is yet another fabulously run August race in northern Ohio....five laps of a ten-mile loop of country roads. At the beginning of lap three, I managed to make a five-person breakaway. We stayed away for over 20 miles, but were brought back by the motivated field on the last lap. Then, two of my former breakaway companions (Tris H. and Rudy S.) had enough left in the tank to attack the field with Ray H. with a few miles to go. They held their lead, and Ray won the race in a three person sprint. Nice work Ray. SBR's Tom K. managed to take 8th overall in the field sprint. Good work Tom.

Hanging with and trying to contribute as much as possible to a breakaway group like that on a rolling and windy course is truly a test of willpower. I can't believe I pay money to do this.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Single File

Both Ray and JimmyNick have recently commented on single file cycling laws and their enforcement by local authorities.

Actually, I was on the ride with Ray when the Gates Mills police officer hassled us for riding two abreast. We were riding two across going up a curvy s-hill heading north on River Road, just north of Wilson Mills. At the top of the hill, we singled out. We had no idea a cop was behind us, and he pulled us over at the bottom of the other side of the hill. He specifically said that he pulled us over because we were riding double file going up the hill, which happens to include two totally blind curves. Apparently we were blocking traffic by riding double file. But, any driver who would attempt to pass a cyclist going up this hill has no respect for his/her own life or the passengers in their car, the life of the cyclist(s), or the life of any potential oncoming drivers. Like I said, we singled out at the top of the hill when it would be safe for a driver to pass us, but that wasn't good enough.

As for the arguments in JimmyNick's post, and the comments on Ray's post about the conflict between state law and local laws on this issue, let me just say that I agree with the consensus. For various reasons, I won't go into detail on why.

But, I would ask that if anyone who reads this blog is ever ticketed for riding two abreast in Ohio, or riding too far from the gutter of the road, contact me. We need to challenge the unlawful enforcement of these laws in court, and to the court of appeals if necessary. Honestly, you'll be wasting your time (and potentially be putting your short term liberty in danger) arguing about it with the cop who wants to ticket you.

Monday, August 04, 2008

At least I finished "in the money" on Saturday

So my (lack of) results at the Zoar road race was kind of a drag.

But, at least Reuben (aka "The Brave Sir Reuben") did well on Saturday. We acquired another title in his quest for world dominance in the Black and Tan Coonhound agility scene, a scene that actually doesn't really exist except for him. Aruuuuuuuuuu.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Zoar Road Race

Stark Velo once again put on a first class race today in the hills just south of Canton, Ohio. This race is, without a doubt, one of the premier area races.

In the Cat 3/4 field, we started with 51 racers and the field shrunk considerably as the race progressed. No significant breaks managed to get away (despite many efforts), and the race came down to a field sprint. As we got within a mile of the finish line (which is all downhill), I shot away from the group but got caught well before the 200m sign. Oh well.

An observation from today's race is that more than a few people can use an August bicycle tune up. If I had a dollar for every mis-shift, dropped chain, and general horrible sound coming from people's bikes today, I would have had my gas from the trip covered.

We also watched the end of the men's 1/2/3 field, which saw Thom D. and race winner Brian B. break away from the field and stay away for the duration of the race. Hats off to those two for being just generally beasts on the bike.

Next week is the Orrville Milk Race for me, and I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, August 01, 2008

"Only celebrities like Barack Obama go to the gym three times a day."

This article from the Wall Street Journal Online discusses Barack Obama's weight and his apparent dedication to fitness and a healthy lifestyle (or, as "healthy" as a lifestyle one can lead while being a Senator and presidential candidate).

Here's an excerpt:

But too much time in the gym can cause problems, as Sen. Obama learned last month after he made three stops to local Chicago gyms in one day, for a total of 188 minutes....Republicans have recently picked up on the senator's fitness regimen. On Wednesday, the McCain campaign launched a new ad titled "Celeb" that compares Sen. Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. In a memo to reporters explaining the ad, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis wrote, "Only celebrities like Barack Obama go to the gym three times a day."

So the guy worked out for three hours one day. God forbid. I guess no one from the skinny guy convention, also known as bike racers, will ever pass as a respectable presidential candidate.

I'm certainly glad that things are different in this election cycle, and we are finally focusing on the candidates' stances on the important issues facing our country.

(thanks to Asymetrical Information for the heads up on this article)