Yes, I'm "Training" for This

Colin "briefcasing" his bike over the barriers at the 2009 Ice Weasels.
Photo courtesy of PainFace @ DoubleHop
Everyone else seems to be winding their season down, while I've been ramping things up after Thanksgiving. I've been living my cycling life vicariously for four weeks by reading race reports and watching various chainstayhandlebar and seatpost cam footage. I totaled 6 rides for the month of November.

Despite the lack of activity, and one big-eatin' holiday, I've only a put a coupla pounds on during my "convalescence". Workouts since have gone very well in this c-c-c-cold weather we've been having around here, although yesterday's was cut short due to some major calf-cramping I just could not shake.

Gonna wait until mid-day today when it's (hopefully) just above freezing to get one last hard ride in before mixing it up Ice Weasels Cometh on Saturday!


The Secret Eye Was Upon Me

So, I'm reading Squat Lobster's account of the Cat 4 35/45+ race I was also in this past Sunday and when I got to his video, I enjoyed seeing some of my MRC team mates come and go through the frame of his camera:

At the end of the video, when his camera has fallen off his bike (jelly side up), I couldn't help but wonder if I was one of the guys zipping past. Enter some frame-by-frame analysis and BINGO, there I am!

Race Report: Minuteman Cross, Cat 4 35/45+ - Lancaster, MA

With not much of a warmup (sigh) because I was running around the course photographing the open Cat 4 race, I lined up 6th row, which was closer to the front than I thought I'd be with only one other cycocross race under my belt. Did my best on the first lap to just maintain position, passing some people on that first big climb then being passed later on in the turny bits of the course.

Somewhere in lap 2, Mark Van Lier passed by me (from starting in row 8) and I gave chase. Tried keeping him in sight the rest of the race. Played cat-and-mouse with Sweeney for a while too.

Lap 3, as I exited the last barn turn and approached the copse of trees by the bleachers, I snagged my left brake handle in the tape, stretching out 6 ft or so diagonally across the track - dang stuff broke so easy in the wind but wouldn't when I got caught in it. It slowed some BikeBarn guy down a half-second while I cursed a blue streak and finally freed myself.

Had to do a half dozen foot-plants on turns but was glad I had the instinct to do so, woulda definitely bit it in a few cases if I didn't.

I can hardly remember going up and over the flyover, I guess it wasn't an issue for me.

Last lap, I tried to stick with Scott but couldn't, Van Liere was out of sight but I had some guy on my tail so he would have to do for me to have any last acts of heroism. As we left the corner field before the finishing straight, he was actually breathing louder than I was, so I began to hit the gas. He matched my every move, likely tucked in behind me tight to stay out of the wind.

I kept shifting up and going faster and still I could hear his huffing and puffing behind me and as I hit the line, I practiced throwing my bars "just in case" but I don't think he was coming around.

Result: 34th of 76 overall and 17th of 40 in the 45+.

I'm very pleased with how I did. My ankle/foot did not pose a problem (but did need a bag of ice when I got home) and each lap was faster than the one before (9:19, 9:09, 9:08 and 9:06). My only self-criticism was that even though my remounts went without a hitch, I did flop my ass down on the seat really hard every time - I'm lucky that the barriers were in the forgiving wood chips.

Later, when the results were up, I did not find myself on the print-out so I pestered JD between races and he reviewed the tape, found me and even complemented me on the throw.

The rest of the day, I spent taking shots of the rest of the action. I took so many shots, it required quite a few man-hours of editing to create the gallery I posted online.


Pre-Race Workout

Spent the day doing course setup for our race tomorrow, the CyclocrossRacing.com/Minuteman Road Club CX Race.

7 a.m. start with NO COFFEE. Big mistake, felt kinda logey all day, but soldiered on through staking/taping the course, pruning tree branches, clipping off exposed roots and toting 55 gallon drums. Oh, then there was the hauling of logs, hay bales and walking back and forth along the course dozens of times to move my car and it's load of tools to a more convenient location.

Meanwhile the wind was gusting to 25 mph and threatening to make our racecourse look like either a drunken Christo installation or a field of bedraggled TIbetan prayer flags.

Right around noon, I was pretty cooked and, it being two hours beyond the advertised completion time, quite ready to go. Just then the call comes in that the flyover is on it's way to the site.

Ok, I'll hang around a little longer. What's next?

Unloading the components from the trailer, that's what:


Here, hold this for a minute, would ya?



Ok, once the guys assembling the flyover seem to have things well in hand, I head home and finally swap out my front brake pads (long overdue) and install the shorter handlebar stem I've wanted since I got the XO1 in August. Both operations go quickly and smoothly.

Next I get the car loaded up with my standard race armament PLUS a few extras just for this race (I'll detail these later in my race report). But I keep wondering how the flyover is coming along, so I head back over to sneak another peek:


My those steps look steep! I trotted up... gonna be some sore thighs tomorrow! The crew also added a little skirt to the end of the ramp so descending cyclists can transition back to level ground less abruptly. Nice touch!


Ok, back home, dinner and now let's wrap this post so I can get some proper rest.

EDIT: I forgot that I got this vid-clip of an early test drive:

Minuteman Road Club Flyover - nearly finished! from Russ Campbell on Vimeo.


Providence Cyclocross Festival - Day 1 - October 9, 2010

A beautiful Saturday morning greeted New England 'crossers as they competed on Day 1 of the Providence Cyclocross Festival. I was signed up to race but I was still feeling cautious about my ankle which left me free to photograph the goings on.

Fellow Minuteman Road Club member, John Smith bought himself an upgrade to Cat 3 over the weekend by winning the Cat 4 35/45+ on both days. Chris Pare took 3rd on day 2 in that category.

Doug Kennedy also had a great weekend, placing 4th and 7th on each day. He bumped up to Cat 2 as a result.

I covered the Cat 4, Cat 4 35/45+, Cat 3/4 Women and the U15 Juniors (1-4). Full gallery here.

Competitors make their way past the Temple of Music in Roger Williams Park.

Michael Weiler descends in Roger Williams Park.

Todd Savage leads fellow Minuteman team member John Smith up at the start of the 35/45+ heat on Saturday.

A victorious John Smith (Minuteman) as he wins the Cat 4 35+.


The Night Weasels Cometh - October 6, 2010 - Shrewsbury, MA

Rained like the dickens while we were stringing tape along the course but it eased up in time for the first heat of the evening, the Cat 4 Men. This didn't mean that the course was easy to navigate, there was plenty of slippery messiness to be had.

Since my ankle was still messed up, I was fine with the role of photographer, while the light lasted. One Cat 3 racer who shall remain nameless, remonstrated me for using my flash... it WAS hard to see out there, so I don't blame him. I didn't want to be the cause of anyone's crash so I took more slow shutter speed pan shots and saved most of the flash shots for the finish line.

Colin, Chip, all the volunteers and the crew from Ski Ward all did  a terrific job. Everyone had a great time!

A gallery of photos is viewable here: click for mud

Minuteman Road Club Cat 4 crew after the race
Matt Pierson hurdling a six inch pipe
Peter Goguen, 14 year old Cat 4 winner

MRC Member Rob Bauer shows why his nickname is "Pain Face"

Jonny Bold ripping it up in the P/1/2/3 race


Ankle Update

So it's six days since I sprained my ankle/foot. Two days to go before The Night Weasels Cometh.I had a string of assignments through the weekend so I couldn't stay off my feet at all, but the ankle brace I picked up at CVS did a good job of helping me to function.

Every day, it's been getting a little better.

This morning, I taped it up and got on the trainer for some intervals and it held up really well but the bad news is that when I got off, laced up my running shoes and tried to simply JOG around the block, it was a no-go after 100 yards.

So, if you had to ask me right now, I'd say that I'll be photographing the race Wednesday night, not participating in it.


My Own Worst Enemy?

Short post only to report that I have been finding new ways to maim myself.

Two weeks ago, I unwisely jumped on a BMX bike for the first time at the track in Billerica (I was quite the sight in my roadie bike shorts and jersey), went off course and my right thigh lost a fight with a rather sharp rock as I fell, leaving me with a 5-inch gash that provided me with a nice view of what things look like underneath my skin. (Sorry, no photos)

My wife is becoming an expert at rolling her eyes at me when I come limping back into the house.

Fast forward to this past Tuesday, I'm scheduled to have the stitches removed at 1:30pm but in the morning, I decide to do a little 'cross workout, concentrating on nailing down my remounts. Somehow, I manage to completely miss the saddle and sort of sit down on the rolling rear tire while simultaneously riding over my left foot with my ankle bent to the right at a rather unnatural angle.

Boof! Down I go and instantly I know that the workout is over.

Coupla hours later it's my PCP who's rolling his eyes at me when I ask him if he would check out my ankle after he is done taking out the stitches.

So, I've been hobbling around with a brace on the ankle. It's improved a lot in two and a half days. I'm thinking I might just be alright for the Night Weasels Cometh this coming Wednesday...


Crossin' Over, Catching Up - Plus QuadCross 2010

The month of August usually sees my cycling mileage drop significantly, mostly due to a 3 week vacation that begins when my daughter's summer camp ends late in the month and the beginning of school, which for her was the Wednesday after Labor Day this year.

Oh yes, we do some traveling during that time: we had a most enjoyable time on Martha's Vineyard despite the squally conditions pretty much the whole time we were there. This was followed by our traditional father/daughter-only trip to Cape Cod to visit my mom, body-board in the Eastham Surf and do some rides with my brother, Doug.

A New Ride

But this year, I added a 2005 Trek XO 1 cross bike to the mix just before the hiatus began and, while my "saddle time" has dropped about to about the same level as it did last year, mileage is WAY down due to all the time I've been putting in riding the "new" bike around at speeds averaging less than 11 mph.

The bike is pretty much stock except for a 42 tooth Rotor Q-Ring and chain guard and a nice Specialized Toupe saddle (same as on my road bike) added by the original owner. It's a 56cm frame (1cm larger than my LeMond) and so, I have a bit of fit tweaking to do. Mostly likely purchase will be to get a 100mm stem to replace the 110mm one that is currently installed.

Just before we headed to MV for a few days, I got some basic pointers on my second ride on the Trek from MRC's Bruce T who gave me a handful of things to go practice on my own. Surprisingly, much of it came pretty naturally - except except for remounting: I quickly developed the "double-hop" habit.

Third ride in, while starting a lap in the too-rooty Stow Town Forest, my front wheel found a grapefruit-sized rock hidden in the leaves and stopped cold, sending me sailing over the bars, landing hands-and-knees down on the trail. The bike pitched over and hammered the saddle on the ground, bending one of the seat rails.

I got a nice, deep gouge just above my left knee and a bruised the heel of my left thumb. With my first cross crash out of the way, I soldiered on. The gouge did not affect my ability to ride, but the bruised hand pestered me for another ten days. I had to swap out the Toupe saddle for the Bontrager one that came stock on my road bike.

In between the MV and Cape Cod trips, the couple of workouts I got in with various MRC members started to give me an inkling for the kind of efforts that would be required to do a cross race.

Huge efforts.

While on the Cape, I got one decent 40 mile tempo ride in with my brother on my road bike. Wow, a bike that has brakes that actually bring you to a stop and not merely slow you down!

Back from vacation, I did another solo ride in the Stow Town Forest that consisted of one high intensity lap of about 15 minutes then some dismount/mount practice followed by some easy trail exploration that included another, more spectacular, fall.

I was poking along a mountain bike trail that ran along the side of a steep hill and got a little too close to a tree, which grabbed the left sleeve of my jersey. As my jersey sleeve was ripping, the force was pulling me to the left - and down the slope. Next, my left arm was pulled off the handlebar and even though I was intoning (out loud), "I got it... I got it...", the front wheel  lurched 90 degrees to the left.

At that instant, the tree, satisfied with the amount of jersey it had captured, released my left arm, allowing me to tumble to the right and down the hill about 10 feet, with the bike coming to rest on my back.

Obviously, I didn't have it.

I lay there for a moment, waiting for something to start to hurt. Fortunately, nothing did. I gathered myself up and pedaled home.

More Serious Training

My next three rides were great: a cross workout with a large group of about 8 others where we did five 6 minute hot laps followed by a 20 minute tempo-level fartlek session. I pretty much played "catch up" the whole time.

The second ride was a 40 mile road ride with Doug K and Smudger (two of the strongest members I ride with regularly) that was billed as "easy-to-moderate" but ended up, for me, to be "hard-to-moderate", in that order. As far as I could tell, they only had to wait up for me a couple of times.

The third was the following Monday morning, Labor Day: a very welcome cross skills workout with Gary D, Stefan and new-to-me MRC member, Able. We spent a lot of focused time on run-ups, tight turning and most beneficial to me, barriers and re-mounts. With their help, I finally began to minimize the double-hop and maximize the number of smooth remounts.

Later that day, as if I hadn't punished myself enough over the labor day weekend, I took my family to climb Monadnock Mountain, where my wife and I had gone on our first date. We got about 3/4 the way up when my wife tweaked her knee and we had to, carefully, make our way back down. Not summiting hit my daughter pretty hard, her recurring lamentations adding to the difficulty of getting my wife down safely.

Really Serious Training

The Wednesday after that, I headed down to Wrentham to participate in the MRC Cyclocross Training Series. After some course maintenance (try riding your bike while carrying a 5 lb. lump hammer in one hand) we did a bunch of hot laps. This was the closest thing I would get to racing before the following Sunday's QuadCross in Bedford, so I was hankering to find out what kind of shape I was in.

Well, I learned right away that racing cross means driving your heart rate through the roof, keeping it there, while simultaneously pedaling like mad until your legs feel like bags of rocks. Good thing we took a 2-3 minute break between laps. Here's my HR plotted against elevation for the afternoon:

See how it ramps right up to 170 bpm and stays there until the lap is over? We'll be looking at another fun graph shortly...

The next two days saw me working more on skills than fitness, especially dismounts/mounts.

This past Saturday found me back at Monadnock, as I promised my daughter we'd give it another go. We made the round trip in four and a half hours in perfect weather. Probably not the best thing to be doing the day before a race, but a promise is a promise.

Here I am, resting my weary legs atop Monadnock Mountain.
Now, compare that Wrentham graph above with this one from the hike:

HR barely exceeded 110 bpm even on the steepest sections.

First Race

And so, finally, we come to QuadCross 2010 this past Sunday. My first 'cross race!

I was registered to race in the Cat 4 heat along with a good sized MRC contingent. I got the benefit of not one but two warmup laps around the course, which really helped as there were lots of spots where you could either screw up royally or make a smart play to pass someone. I might have missed these features if I'd only taken one trip around.

10 o'clock rolls around and I find myself lined up in the 2nd row. And then we wait for about twelve minutes. So much for the warmup.

When the whistle is finally blown, I'm stomping on the pedals with all my might but my legs are telling me they want to continue the nap they'd just been enjoying. Off we all go and a bunch of people get by me right away in the first few turns. As much as I try to remember the rest of the race, only certain details have stuck with me:

  • At some point, I was playing cat-and-mouse with a Threshold rider and, as we approached the sand pit with him in front, I was determined to go by him. I got off my bike first cut to the left inside of him and blasted by only to fumble the remount a bit and watch as he blasted back by me once we took the left onto the parking lot straight
  • I did OK on the barriers and on the incline right afterwards - I ran up if someone was in front of me and rode it if not.
  • I felt like I was able to keep a bunch of others behind me because I was more aggressive through the tight turns, swinging wide early into the turns, cutting close to the pole, then wide again under power on the exit.
  • I was able to pass 3 or 4 people during the race but a few more than that got by me.
  • Even though my lungs and legs were completely on fire, I felt like I achieved some sort of strange equilibrium that allowed me to still function and continue to race.
Putting the hurt on a NEBC guy.
As I was nearing the start/finish to end my third lap, I was hoping to hear the officials ring the bell, signifying one-to-go, but there was silence as I went by. Two laps to go and I spent a lot of the 4th lap convincing myself that this was "only" a 40 minute ride, not some unending century on a hot June day. It would be over in less than 15 minutes, I told myself.

This seemed to do the trick, because by the time I started the fifth and final lap, I had a bit of a second wind and reeled in a couple of people who had been ahead of me for a while. Of course, right after I did, somebody else passed all three of us. And then it was over.

Just to the side of the course, past the start/finish line was a bunch of MRC guys to great me and the others from our heat. But I needed a few minutes to slow my heart and lungs down a bit before I could talk:

Heart rate and elevation. The horizontal gray line is at 170 bpm.
I finished in 41st place out of the 76 who showed up to race in the 4's. I gotta figure at 49, I was one of the oldest in the field...

Big congratulations to teammates, Chris Pare and John Smith, who took 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Cat 4 35+ race, Paul DiBetetto and John Plumb who took 4th and 5th in the 45+ 4's and Doug Kennedy who snagged 2nd in the Intermediate 3's.

Next races: Cat 4 Mens at Night Weasels Cometh on 10/6 then Cat 4 Mens Master 35+ on Saturday in Providence 10/9.


2010 Gran Prix of Beverly - August 4, 2010

The 2010 Fidelity Gran Prix of Beverly was hot... and fast! Still, I wanted to be out there rather than on the sidelines - even though I really enjoyed photographing the action. As I watched, and photographed, my Minuteman Road Club team mates race in the Mens 4/5 heat, it was evident from the expressions on their and everyone else's faces that it was an extremely high intensity race.

On the second lap, just at the 3rd turn, there was a crash, sending the pack into neutral behind the pace car. Word that one of the riders down had broken his hip actually beat the pace car back to where I was standing at the final corner. A broken hip - kind of makes my shoulder separation look like a mosquito bite.

Throughout the race, MRC's Chris Pare maintained a good position in the top 10 on the outside with John Smith holding a spot on the inside a few places back.

Nearly halfway through, frequent riding buddy, Jerry De Zutter of 545 Velo came around the corner with a significant lead and no one giving chase. I'm pretty sure he took the a prime lap before being reabsorbed up by the pack and then finishing 14th.

Later on, there was another solo breakaway by Gerald Harris who later took 9th. Meanwhile, the heat and pace were taking their toll, producing a fair amount of attrition at the back as people began to fall off the pace and get pulled by the officials as they came around the start/finish.

A sprint finish found Kenneth Thoman (Comprehensive) in 1st, Edward Uhring (unattached) 2nd and Colin Reuter (Back Bay Bicycles) in 3rd. MRC's Chris gave John the best lead out one could ask for, allowing him to finish 7th. Chris himself came in 24th.

I took pains to get nice, sharp photos of my team mates racing... once their heat was over, the pressure was off and so I got a little looser with my coverage of the Women's and Pro/1/2 races, not really paying attention to the race per se, but spent the time noodling around with some slow-sync and motion blur.

There are a A LOT more photos from the race in this web gallery.


Norwell Circuit Race - August 1, 2010

Did the Norwell Circuit Race yesterday, the first race back after crashing at the Nutmeg Classic in June.

I had my ups and downs: I was among or near the top 10 for nearly the whole race until the last time on Forest street when all the "sleepers" behind me woke up and got moving. If, as one of my MRC teammates reports, our race was split into two groups, it seemed like the whole front group engulfed me on the final climb which means I probably placed around 25th I'll update when the results are posted on BikeReg. [UPDATE: I placed 22nd, just behind team mate Scott Sweeny.]

The good:

  • stayed near the front for most of the race (the sounds of the two crashes reverberated in my mind for a couple of laps)
  • kept my wits about me when some numbskull wouldn't hold his line ON A STRAIGHTAWAY and I had to put my hand on his hip to let him know he was drifting into me. I was directly behind another guy, so no room at the inn for him, but the drifter kept coming and nearly pushed me into the cyclist to my left.
  • there were a couple of instances where I got gapped a little by the few people in front of me but I was able to steadily regain contact without panicking

The bad:

  • not enough warmup: the first time up Circuit Street sucked big time, shoulda done some short jumps to get the Type II muscles fully awake
  • spent too much time in the first three laps out in the wind - not in the lead, maybe 5 wheels back but to the side, pulling a bunch of lunkheads behind me - I should have worked harder to find a slot where I could rest up a bit
  • my rear brake was rubbing (sigh) on the Circuit Street climb when I got out of the saddle, I couldn't tell if it was really slowing me much but I chose to spin my way up instead (the good thing was, except for the last time up, I didn't lose any places doing so)
  • absolutely nothing left for that last climb up Circuit Street, I struggled up as bike after bike surged by me

I'd be kidding myself if I thought I was doing very much more than hanging on by the skin of my teeth the whole race, but I'm proud of the fact that I did most of it towards the front of the pack and not tagging along in the back.

Looking ahead on my calendar, I don't see any opportunities for further road racing for me this year. I am planning on photographing the upcoming Grand Prix of Beverly and the Salem Witches Cup so watch out for the galleries that will result.

[UPDATE 8/11/2010: I totally forgot about the Jamestown Classic, on Oct. 11th, so I still have something to aim for this season!]


The Hidden Damage

So, all of a sudden, with one day to go before returning to racing (Norwell Circuit Race), right at the start of a 40-mile easy group ride, my front derailleur doesn't respond to my repeated flicks/click of the lever or even to tugging directly on the exposed part of the cable as it runs along the side of the bike's down-tube.

Hrm, I think to myself, this sucks.

Somehow or other, I managed to get the thing working again and get through the ride today with minimal shifting between chainrings.

Upon returning home, I take another look at my setup and remember that although my bike came out of last month's crash almost completely unscathed, the one obvious thing that happened was that the newly-installed FD cable housing that runs from the shifter to the barrel adjuster on the down-tube got a wee bit kinked. Well, it turns out a lot more happened to it than that.

Reluctant to do anything major to my drivetrain the day before a race but anxious about having a mechanical that would take me out of the running, I loosened up the cable locking nut and tried to thread the cable back through the housing. It took some effort to pull the housing away from the shifter and once I had it completely off, it was plainly evident what the problem was:


My guess is that as the bike and I tumbled over, the housing smacked the ground and drove the end right through the little plastic cap. The frayed end of the housing did no damage to the cable itself but was pressing on the side of the shifter, impairing it's proper functioning. it's a wonder that it worked for the last six weeks at all.

I had an extra set of cables and housings on hand, made the swap, adjusted the FD and the RD and things were ship-shape again.

Only thing left to do before tomorrow is get a good night's rest...


Sunday Random Bike Pic

2010 CRW Climb to the Clouds

MRC mate, Tony W, and I set out at 7:20 from CCHS and ambled our way towards Wawa, with the goal of maintaining 20-ish mph on the flats. We'd latch on to groups of various sizes along the way and move on – there was the usual mish-mash of folks who could hold a line and wobbly "freds" on fancy Cervelo's, Treks, etc.. It was hot, but dry, so we were never miserable due to the heat, but it was easy to forget to hydrate as I barely worked up a sweat the whole way.
I was loving the 12-27 cassette I picked up this week: that 27 tooth cog helped me spin up every ramp without a hitch. Mile Hill Road was still a load of work, but I never felt like I was going to plotz as I worked my way up.
At the visitor's center, we watered up, etc. and just as I was going to suggest to Tony that we go, Bruce, Jeff L and Brian (also of the MRC) roll up, providing a good excuse to extend the stop. It seemed like Bruce knew every other person there – he'd turn around and there'd be someone else he'd say "Hello" to.
Soon, we were underway again (Brian a little bit before we did, with the expectation we'd pass him later on).
The next leg is my favorite part of the ride with long, curving descents and high speeds winding back down the mountain, into Princeton and to the first official CRW rest stop. It was great doing the next 25 miles or so with a squad of friends. Before I knew it, we were at Berlin Orchards, the location of the 2nd rest stop.
Bruce and Jeff watered up quick and got going right away to finish up their metric. I was starting to get those "warning cramps" in my quads and hamstrings, so between glugs of water and chomps of pbj, I did a little stretching in the hopes that I'd get 25 more miles out of my legs before anything dramatic happened.
Tony and I got going again and made our way back into Harvard, up the last big climb of the day and into more familiar territory. Down Stow Road then left on Old Harvard. During this stretch, we reeled in a fairly large group of 12-15 guys who were keeping a pretty decent pace of 22-24 mph. In fact, it was just ONE cyclist setting the pace with everyone else benefitting from his effort. We must have logged 10 or so miles with him at the front almost the whole time.
When we finally crossed into West Concord and were less than 7 miles from the end, I got up out of the saddle to close a small gap that opened up with the guy in front of me. In that instant BOTH hamstrings cramped up solid - GAH! I got off the road and managed to dismount without aggravating the crampage as our ticket home faded away. Bleh.
A couple of minutes stretching and I was back on the bike with Tony providing a very welcome "tow" back to CCHS. For the 100 miles, I logged the bike time as 5 hours, 21 minutes with 5,810 ft of climb.
Song stuck in head: Friday I'm in Love - The Cure


Climb to the Clouds this Sunday

Had my training scheduled "just so" as this Sunday's CRW Climb to the Clouds Century loomed ahead. The plan was to ride hard Wednesday with the MRC as usual, spin for 90 minutes Thursday, do the MRC FMR (Friday Morning Ride - short but intense hill intervals) and "rest" on Saturday as I do 10 hours shilling tripods at a trade show.
So much for that plan. I picked up a gig today that kept me away from the bike and my wife's PT appointment Friday morning means I'm driving our daughter to camp then part two of today's gig starts soon after and continues into the afternoon.
I did manage to snag a 12-27 cassette, new chainrings and chain (all Ultegra) and a new tire at Landry's today, I'm hoping that 27-tooth cog helps some on Mile Hill Road.
So, the new plan is to get home quick after the shoot and do a 2 hour moderately paced ride before the sun goes down. When I get back from the trade show on Saturday, I'll do all the prep for Sunday morning: load my bike, gear and food in the car, mix up bug juice (and have extra powder dosed into baggies), lay out my kit, have a decent dinner and get to bed early.


The First Week Back

Well, it's the end of the first week back on the bike since the crash and I must say, I'm pleased. I've logged five rides of distances up to 63 miles totaling over 210 miles.
Did a decent job on the Wednesday night ride, though I faded pretty hard the last couple of miles. Managed a respectable sprint at the end of this week's Friday Morning Ride. Had a fantastic (and fast) ride out to Wachusett Mtn. (no summit) and back with former MRC member and current Spinx Team rider, Tom Ball and tri-guy Bob Crane. I topped all that off with a one hour run (longest ever for me) this morning with fellow MRC guys, Steve K and Jim L.
A little shoulder pain here and there but so far, my body is repairing itself admirably. My bike, on the other hand, needs serious attention: it's making all kinds of new sounds "down there". Tomorrow will be an easy ride and much time in the driveway doing a good tear-down/clean/lube/adjust.


Dang It All!

Got all geared up to ride at 6 a.m. this morning with some of the MRC guys and about 5 minutes before I had to leave the house, I remembered that I cut the adjustable strap on my right Specialized bike shoe when I crashed because the release had completely come off.

I rushed to the basement to take the SPD pedals off the old Bianchi (in hindsight, I should have just rode THAT bike) and then up to the garage to put them on the LeMond. Thing was, I simply could not remove the KEO's from the LeMond: my shoulder hurt pretty bad as I tried. If I want to get the pedals off, I'll have to remove the cranks, put them in a vise and get some extra leverage using my long torque wrench.

Very frustrating. Silly of me not to remember about the cut strap.

After some foot stomping and mild curses, I headed inside to look online to see if I could get replacement parts for the shoe. Specialized has the buckles in stock but no straps in black... why in heavens name would they not allow online shoppers to backorder parts that are out-of-stock is beyond me, especially since their current shoe line uses the same straps. There are no other online sources for the straps and buckles in the U.S.

I could order grey/white straps which might look a bit strange, but I held off since it's Sunday and who knows WHEN I'll actually get the parts. I'll check in w/Landry's later today. While a new pair of shoes would be tempting, I'd rather put the $$ into some Speedplays...


Now, I'll tip-toe upstairs and change into shorts & t-shirt and try to adjust my attitude by running a few miles.


UPDATE 8:00 a.m. - Felt like I could run 4 miles but my right calf started to hurt right as I finished one lap of 2 miles. And I still need to mow the lawn today.


UPDATE 5:30 p.m. - Landry's came through again: got me a new strap and buckle for the damaged shoe. I was so happy, I bought some Speedplay Zeroes.

Tomorrow, back on the bike!


On Foot

Two weeks after the crash and I'm healing pretty well. Put the sling aside over the weekend and managed to get a couple of 2 mile runs in with no incident. Managed do the route at 7' 30" per mile pace. Shoulder movement has improved quite a bit but a photo assignment last Saturday revealed that if I go beyond my current range of motion, it hurts pretty bad.

Running out of Vicodan, which I've only been taking before bedtime, but I seem to be able to sleep through the night now without rolling over on the injured side and waking myself in extreme pain.


6/22: I'm writing this from Baltimore Airport, waiting for a connecting flight to Louisville to visit the in-laws. Plotted out a nice two-mile loop in a residential neighborhood across the way from the hotel where we are staying and packed some running duds but, as we pulled into the airport parking lot in Manchester, NH, I realized that I did not pack my running shoes.


The hotel is a stone's throw from a sprawling shopping mall, so I'll probably go buy a pair of shoes later today. I'm planning on returning to training on the bike when we get back home this weekend. It really sucks to get hurt just as I was nearing peak fitness and getting used to dicing it up in races.

Meanwhile, this past Saturday, two of my MRC teammates did very well in the Purgatory Road Race: Doug K won the Cat 5 35+ quite handily and Len E took 4th in a very strong Cat 4 35+ field. Great job, guys!


6/26: Leaving KY in a couple of hours. Got some decent New Balance running shoes and a Timex Triathlon watch that has an HR strap, have done 3 runs of varying distances/speeds over fairly hilly terrain. Anxious to get home and get back on the bike tomorrow if the weather allows...


Nutmeg Classic Criterium - June 12, 2010

Alternate title: "4 Hours of Driving, 16 Minutes of Racing"

Pre-race: Arrived at Walnut Hll Park in New Britain, CT for the Nutmeg Classic Criterium at about 8:15 a.m. rested but not quite ready after an extremely busy week of work, including a couple of all-nighters. As I wandered about looking for where to park, I saw fellow MRC'ers, Bill T and Rob F warming up and they told me where to go. Got parked, registered and on my bike by about 8:30 and started doing loops on the neighborhood roads adjacent to the course.

Newbie racer lesson learned: use 8 safety pins, not 4 to attach your number to your jersey: with 4 pins, the flapping of my number was sure to drive me batty during the race. My Minuteman Road Club teammate, Stefan, also showed me a better way to pin the number on as well.

After lowering my coefficient of drag, I resumed my warmup. Every lap around, I got a view of Stefan jamming to who-knows-what on his iPod as he warmed up on his trainer. Couldn't tell if he was singing out loud...

As we rolled up to the start of the 4/5 Masters 30+, the 4's race was just finishing and about 10 riders from the front, mid-pack, two guys crashed HARD 10 yards from the finish line. Hate to see that right before you start your own race.

Stefan got a good slot at the front and I was right behind him. I was feeling pretty confident despite the lack of training this week. We started off pretty briskly and I set to the task of looking for some good wheels to hang onto. I had this big truck of a guy in front of me for a while but then found myself inside and in the wind (which Stefan came up behind me to alert me to, thx!). Got in the draft of some heavily tattooed guy who looked pretty strong and hung with him for laps 2-3.

Lap 4, I'm finally feeling pretty settled in, maybe just ahead of mid-pack. There were already a couple of half-hearted "breaks" and I noticed this one African-American guy who I remembered from the Thompson Raceway bike race last year and thought, "HE's who I should stick with".

After we came around the long, sweeping left that leads to the start/finish straight, I was on the outside and accelerating when I heard that sickening sound of bicycles tangling/crashing. Looking ahead and a little to the left of me, I saw the blur of cyclists going down and thought I would be able to squeeze through between them and the curb, about 18" to my right.

Sadly, their momentum took one of the bikes directly in front of me and I hit it, went over the bars (letting out a stream of expletives as I "flew") then down pretty hard. In that instant, I prepared for the next guy behind me to run me over - luckily, this never happened. I grabbed the top tube of my bike and dragged it and myself off the course and sat down in the grass to triage myself.

A little road rash here and there but my left shoulder was hurting pretty bad. One of the other two guys who didn't resume racing was still on the course with little birdies flying around his head (it turns out, he did split his helmet nearly in half). The third guy was on the side holding his RIGHT shoulder. I think two others crashed but tried to rejoin the race.

The on-site doctor thought I might have a slight dislocation but recommended I get an x-ray at the conveniently located Central Connecticut New Britain General Hospital: 3/4 of mile away on the other side of the race course, visible from where I crashed.

I hung out with an ice bag on my shoulder as Stefan, Bill and Rob finished and then Stefan drove me over to the ER. Outcome of ER visit: AC Joint Sprain, Motrin and Vicodin (whee!). I'm definitely going to visit my primary doc asap to get his opinion as I think something is definitely going on worse than a mere "sprain".

Bike triage: as far as I can tell, my bike survived unscathed. I fully expected a twisted up front wheel but everything seems fine. No head contact and my kit has no tears. The surprise happened when I walked back to my car after the crash and went to take off my bike shoes: the little release lever on the ratchety strap on my right shoe had been completely torn off. No matter how I tried to get it to release by prying at it with a screwdriver, I could not get it to release - so I reluctantly cut it off with my pocket knife.

At a clinic I participated in this spring, the lead teacher told us, "There are two kinds of bicycle racers: those that have crashed and those that will." I am now a member of the former group.

4:47 PM UPDATE: A little online research and comparison to my x-ray makes me think I've got a Type II AC Separation, but hey, I'm no expert. I'm waiting for a call from a sports doctor my primary physician recommended.


Crash mars 37th Sunapee Road Race

Many fellow MRC Cat 5'ers were sitting in good position today when the crash occurred in the Cat 4 group ahead of them. Officials stopped the race to clear the injured, which took over an hour and ended things for the 5's. Our own Rob Follansbee evaded the carnage to take 9th in the 4's.


What next?

It's bad enough cyclists have to deal with inattentive drivers and the repercussions of fellow cyclists who ride without regard to safety (also note all the motorists who roll the stop signs), but now the haters are taking it to a new level by actively causing cycling accidents.
One of several crashes caused by tacks repeatedly thrown on racecourse:

Leonardtown Criterium Crash - Pro/1/2 Race from Bryan Vaughan on Vimeo.

Be sure and check out the comments in the Washington Post article, it never seems to take long for the "all cyclists are elitist/scofflaws" crowd to show up.


Video: Team Sky TT training outside Amsterdam

Watch for the water bottle tossed by a passing motorist at the team at 3:20. If you can't stand techno music, mute your sound now.


Race Report: 16th Annual Sterling Classic Road Race Cat 5 35+

Saturday 2010/05/08
Distance: 24 miles
Time: 1:15:50
Average speed: 19 mph
Weather: ungodly
Rolled out from the school in a steady rain. Whatever warmup I had done beforehand was sapped out of me on the way over to the start. As we climbed up Rowley under 190, I dropped my chain -DOH! I was able to get it back on without stopping but lost many places doing so. So I started picking my way forward through the pack, avoiding a considerable number of wobbly cyclists as we wound up and down the rollers on Heywood and North Row. At one point, I managed to pull off my sunglasses and traded the fog and droplets obscuring my vision for dirt and crud going directly into my eyes. Meanwhile, I was gulping down mouthfuls of water thrown at me by the rooster tail peeling off the wheel in front of me.
Managed to work my way the front 1/2 of the pack on the way to where Rte. 12 passes under 190, when I thought I heard Doran say something like "When is somebody going to do something?" (asked him later, it wasn't him). I was talking to John R the other day about possibly being a "rabbit" to tease some riders into expending energy early in the race.
Well, moments later, I was near the front of the pack, so I opened it up a bit on that long descent on Rte 12. I kept it at 28 mph as far up the incline on 12 back towards downtown as I could but started to fade and the pack finally passed me by. Doran later told me no one took the bait, making me the only one to expend energy early in the race.
I spent the first half of lap 2 on my own, trying to determine whether or not I could make it through 3 laps. At the midway point of lap 2, on Rte. 12, I didn't feel as spent as I did earlier so I started the hunt for people I could catch and pass. There were two guys up ahead that I started to reel in until I got to the start/finish when they pulled away and then three more people passed me.
So, me and these 5 other guys bringing up the rear had our own little race for 30th place during the final lap. Every time there was an incline, they would catch and pass me, but over the top, they would sit up and I would pass them again and get a lead on the descents. I got a really good lead the last time down route 12.
When we hit Rte. 12 for the last time, I was able to stay ahead of the others until a slow-moving Cadillac appeared right at the turn onto the finishing climb. The cop there frantically waved him on as I shouted, "GO! GO!" I was right on his bumper when he finally hit the gas and got out of the way. The other cyclists caught up to me at this point and I was sure they would pass me. I lost all sense of self and became only lungs, legs and bicycle for the next 100 yards. Of those 3, only my bike was in good working order.
The cheering section on the way up was a great help and somehow I managed to stay ahead of the others. 30th place!
The rain really came on at that point, cold faucet only, for the ride back to the school. It was a miserable two miles. When I finally made it to my car and tried to dismount, both quads were threatening to lock up forever. I looked down and they were somewhere between blue and purple in color. Took the better part of an hour to stop shivering! Hypothermia? Maybe.
Summary: I wish I'd paid attention to how much energy I was saving while still with the pack, I'm sure I would have finished with them despite the grinding start/finish hill. Two races, in each, I pulled an ill-advised move that ended up putting me well behind. Here's hoping I stay smart in the next race...


Wells Avenue training criterium 5/2/2010

Damn, I hate having to compose a blog post TWICE: after an hour of writing, Ecto (the app I use) only published the first line and lost everything else. This version is a bit briefer than the original, I may pad it with more detail later.


Did the "C" race on Sunday. Short version: I did not podium but did not crash or get dropped.

Longer version:

I got a lot of really good advice, wisdom and lore from Alan H, Michael C, Rich M, Bruce and others beforehand. I didn't sleep well the night before but was surprisingly calm once I got out of bed.

When called to the start, I found myself in the 4th row next to teammate, John R - he was on the inside and I was one row outside of him. At the start, everyone clipped in without incident and the pack slowly came up to speed.

I felt like I did a great job of looking for steady riders to draft in the early laps and stayed in the middle or to the front of the pack the whole time. Only gripe was that I migrated to the outside and kept finding a particular manhole cover on the back stretch that is slightly below the road surface.

I felt like I was working pretty hard but also felt like I had power in reserve, if needed. We were averaging 24 mph as we sped around. I observed that John was in a much better position, ranging from just in front of me (but still on the inside) to the very front of the pack.

A car turning off the course compressed the pack at one point and John, in a moment of inattention, lapped wheels with someone in front of him and nearly went down right in front of me but made a great recovery without affecting anyone.

A few laps in, as we approached turn 1, a rider up ahead of me pulled the left side crank right off his BB! There he was, coasting straight ahead, holding his left leg up with the pedal and crank dangling from his cleat. Lucky for all of us, he was on the outside and caused no trauma to the pack.

Prime lap (lap 7 of 17): on the backstretch another car was on the road, so we went "neutral" and I mistakenly assumed the VERY NEXT lap would be the prime (as that was how the race official described it should happen). Coming round the final turn into the straight, I found myself 2nd wheel and figured, why waste the opportunity. I managed a sprint and got out front but just before the line, the guy I was sprinting against shouted that it was NOT the prime lap... and at that moment, they rang the bell announcing the prime.

I think it was on that lap that somebody went down hard (heard the yelling/crash/helmet-on-pavement). He lay there until the end of the race until an ambulance came and took him away.

Bleh. Matches burned. Spent the rest of the race hanging onto the back of the pack, getting gapped by a few bike lengths occasionally but able to sprint back up and latch on.

On the final sprint, another rider took a dive. It was rumored that he bounced along the granite curb as he went down... OUCH! He was treated and was able to get himself home.

Conclusion: I'm very happy with how I did, I learned much and will definitely it again!

(Hehe, when I went to post a link to this on Facebook, the Captcha system wanted me to type in these words: "involved imperil")


Train in Rain (and Snow)

Indoors, that is. After last weekend's tease, I re-sentenced myself to the basement trainer sessions and to finish up watching BSG season one. I did get out on Monday before descending back into the depths:

MONDAY 2010/02/22

Distance: 22.9 miles

Time: 1:17:25

Averge speed: 17.76 mph

Weather: 43-46º, 49-43% humidity, wind WNW 9 Gusts 16 to NE6

Started out much too hard and fast for this early in the season on my "CC" route which is pretty flat. Not much to report except that all the sand, frost heaves and potholes made for a more interesting ride. By the time I was coming back into Stow, I was "pre-cramping" in both calves so I shortened the ride by about 2 miles via some shortcuts back towards home.


Ah, The Great Outdoors

Distance: 38.2 miles

Time: 2:09:22

Avg. speed: 17.7 mph

Weather: 36-46º, 61-46% humidity, wind NW9-W12

Song stuck in head: Kitchen Girl (Old-time banjo song)


So nice to do an outdoor ride this morning. Last one was way back in November.

Even though the thermometer gave a reading colder than I think I have ever rode in, it didn't seem so bad once I got going. But the pre-ride prep in the garage was pretty chilly, needing to pull my gloves off long enough to stretch my booties over my shoes and zip them up (I've moved them indoors for the time being).

As I rode to the meeting place for today's ride, I realized I had completely forgotten how to pair and reset my cyclocomputer - all the while being careful not to take a dive on the extremely well-sanded neighborhood streets along the way.

9 a.m. rendezvous with Smudger, Kyle, Ian, Bill P and Stefan at Stow Plaza and we set out a few minutes later, heading west along 117 to turn right on Harvard Road to meet up with Skip and head up into Harvard. We looped partway up Stow Road, went left on Westcott and pretty much ran the Wednesday night route in reverse all the way past Fruitlands and back to Harvard Center. We kept a pretty modest pace, just under 20 mph. I was keeping up with the group very well but all the while, my heart rate was higher than expected (about 160 bpm), which I chalked up to adrenaline.

From there, we took Littleton road out of Harvard and passed on climbing Pinnacle Road. As soon as we made that decision, I was partly hoping we DID go up Pinnacle: Littleton Road is a terrible gauntlet of frost heaves, pot holes and loose pavement. This wouldn't have been the first time I nearly shook all my fillings out. There really wasn't a good line along this stretch all the way into Littleton Station where the road condition finally improved.

We zig-zagged across the railroad tracks to pick up Harwood Ave. which we road to Nashoba Road and went around Nagog Pond. The pace picked up appreciably during this stretch, the short climbs along the way started to stretch our little group out a bit.

We rode a little way east on 119 then south on 27. I was starting to find myself fade little bit on the inclines at this point - I didn't feel tired but my legs just were giving me the horsepower needed to keep up. We then went west on Newtown Road, then picked up Arlington Street which we rode into West Acton and finally made our way back to the start along Central Ave., Martin Street and Red Acre Road.

With a two month jump on last year, things are looking good.


Shut Out of Harpoon B2B in Less Than 1 Minute!

That's right, I was awake and alert at 7 a.m this morning, fingers at the ready to hit "Reload" on the B2B registration page.
Furiously, I typed in the required information on the page and hit "Submit". To my astonishment, the slots were all taken by the time my submission made it to the B2B server.
Now all I can do is hope I can snag someone else's slot for the ride.


2009 Rehash - 2010 Goals Set

Got a 1 hour trainer session in yesterday and again today - this momentum will help me get caught up on the backlog of Heroes episodes I've collected since the fall. Felt pretty good, considering I hadn't been on the bike or trainer since early November. Sheesh.

Good news is my period of winter laziness was much shorter than last year - as long as I stick to it. Let's take a look back at 2009 and see how different it was from 2008:

  • I bumped my total mileage up 9.5% from 2,640 miles to 2,889.
  • My total "saddle time" was down 2%, largely due to the complete lack of indoor trainer sessions early in 2009 and the very late start of road work (May).
  • For the same reason, I only logged 101 days with rides in '09 while in '08, I got in 112. Can't complain as most of those 101 days were on the road and not trainer sessions.
  • Average monthly weight for the year was 172 vs. 2008's 177 lbs. (I'm starting 2010 at 169)

Things I'm happy about as I look back on 2009:

  • Went from getting dropped to not only keeping up with the MRC Wednesday night crew but having a few very respectable performances.
  • Rode 3 centuries during the year: Climb to the Clouds, Chatham-Provencetown and back, CRW Fall Century
  • Regularly mixed in some good core body exercise as well as started to log a few running miles.


  • No Wells Ave. races
  • Couldn't afford to buy a CX bike.
  • Didn't enter any races
  • Got sick in the late fall and stayed off the bike until new year

Ok, enough about the past - what about the coming year? How about a few goals?

  • Complete the Harpoon B2B
  • Centuries
  • Enter 5 Wells Ave races (early season)
  • Enter Sterling Classic
  • Enter 5 Charlie Baker time trials
  • Save pennies for a CX bike and race it in the fall
  • Make running a regular part of weekly workouts
  • Set PR's for 20 and 40 miles

Is that too many? I didn't want to make it too easy!

Sunday Random Bike Pic

In the snow, originally uploaded by Saskya.