Wednesday, December 31, 2008

new year's 2008 - nine

It's hard to be a skinny-high-five'n white boy when all the world is run by fatmen
me thinks that makes for a bad steu

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lancaster 2006...Re-runs III

The instructions I received at the start line were simple. Triple A-Aaron said “Just follow the Giant.” The plan was to follow all the moves of the American Thor Hushovd aka Isaiah, winner of everything lately. With storm clouds moving in we rolled out for our 25 minutes of round-and-round in downtown Lancaster...or as the locals call it “Lank-ster.” Cadillac George whispered, “shadow, the sasquatch.” Nice four corners track here. Jungle Jack reminds to “yield to the Yeti.” A couple accelerations by Isaiah are marked and Chairman Fred pipes in, “tailgate the leviathan.” OKAY I get it....hunt the Titan...Chase the Colossus...stalk the Behemoth...Enough about this Concatenate the brobdingnagian!...Look that one up you raisin-bread eaters!

The plan worked to perfection (at least in my mind), clear dry roads... oops, 3 laps to go and it begins to sprinkle, I’m still sitting on Isaiah’s wheel as 1 lap is called. Raining a little harder now...Acceleration, I’m on it and in third position as we come into the last turn.

The godfather describes the crash as “beautiful, like all-male synchronized swimming.” The giant hits some wet white lane markings, slides on his hip and “ashes-ashes, we all fall down.” Having received the worst of it, I’m slow to pick up my bike and finish eighth.

Chapeau to Dr. Dave, the only Amigo to show up today, raced in an ugly downpour.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

More Winter ReRuns...Tour O' Grandview 2006

I guess it was a bit disappointing that the Tour de Granview, scheduled as an outing for the Cat 4 team to race with the Cat. 3 Amigos didn’t stay that way...George called them “the cat. 3 Musketeers” and Charlie “the 3 stooges,” with that biting Texas “s-sound” that W pronounces Evildoers with...Well the 3/4 lovefest lasted for about 2 laps of the scheduled 8, as it was once again the Cadillac George and Marco Pantani show this week in Columbus...please tip your waitress, we’ll be working this room all week....spit out of the back of the Amigo race, George and I did a 2-man roadshow for lap-after-lap, thinking we were the lantern rouge. Nobody told us the entire cat. 4 field was behind us. Mel and Rain-man must have been playing rock-paper-sissors because they never said “sit up and wait, help is about 30 second behind you.” The nice family grilling bratwurst (make mine with mustard, no onions) were silent, the race announcer kept calling us stragglers. Onward we trudged taking turns. George and I didn’t want to make this a tour with a small “T” so we worked hard (not Jens Voight hard, but maybe Christophe Moreau hard). OK, hard enough that I see Pete standing on the side of the road and I’m hallucinating (I think) because he looks like that guy from the Village People doing the YMCA song. Mel waves, Mike gives the thumbs up. NOTHING....two laps to go, here comes Iowa J, Charlie, and the rest of the 4s. Oops, I’m sorry but I’ve left my legs back there somewhere on the course....One of the out-of-town riders starts in on us with “the Raisin Rack, what’s that mean? Is it like your women’s team has small breasts?”...the Iowa tornado was like “Whatever...” But Charlie kept insisting the cyclist check out the “Rack” on a couple of our Stooge teammates after the race....1.5 laps to go and the large health company dude jumps, Charlie marks his move... and we are back together... I’m spit off the back at the bell but I bridge on the downhill....half a lap and it looks like it’s is going to be an uphill race and a long long sprint. Did I mention that the Godfather and I did some real hard work when we thought it was just the two of us? Needless to say the fat lady had sung, and indeed, she had a nice rack....

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Return of the 'quote of the day'

We will be returning to the daily quotes on the email group A World Of Pain, but I wanted to drop this one on you.

"The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things."
-Rainer Maria Rilke (born 1875)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Winter ReRuns - March 2006 Mid-Ohio Race

With all the snow and rain and cold, I'm posting race reports from the old days- ESPN Classic style. Here's one from the 2006 season:
Just after the start, the Cat. 4 race turned into a forum on American Pacifism and the Christian ‘just war’ theory. Whaler and I were talking about the proliferation of ‘so-called’ Anarcho-pacifists, you know the followers of Leo Tolstoy. Jaybone piped up and suggested that they were no more than Nihilists. “Maybe,” says Pink Floyd (Jungle Jack version 2.0), “but can you still talk smack and be a pacifist?” Interesting query (we’ll get to that later) as the glass shards, oops, no the biting sleet starts attacking our faces on the 1st lap. The 30 or so racers also feel the pain of White Lightning's accelerations up the hill lap-after-lap and Cho-cho Charlie tells us that we have to be joking, because everyone thought the were WMDs before the invasion and jumps off the front for a solo stroll that pops a coupla riders off the back....I wasn’t talking to you anyway. Whaler starts listing famous pacifists like John Lennon, Buddha, and Native American Chief Seattle and I begin to see the close resemblance his facial features have with THE ROCK. I had just watched DOOM - the movie (one star, no nekkid chicks, but plenty of gore) and there he was, Jerry wielding a plasma gun. This certainly makes our conversation surreal because as you know their really hasn’t ever been an “unjust” war. Godfather Conti chimes in and brings up fictional pacifists like Jeff Lebowski and Stimpy (from Ren & Stimpy). Stimpy? Don’t ask, Godfather does a few powerful turns and settles many laps to go? Two, ok we run around the backside. As the boys get jumpy and the skinny OS-shoe rider collides with the 16 year-old from Pennsylvania. More about that later. The COBC train has whittled the field to about 8 riders and Andy makes a break with 2 other guys. We come together on the backside and Bolt-man calls a lead out about 1/2 mile before the finish. forgetaboutit. George powers through again, Andy jumps and gets first.

We revisit the pacifism issue after the race when the OS-shoe rider wants to fight the skinny kid he collided with. I told the shoe-dude that if he wanted to fight the kid, he also has to fight me, because this is a race and crashes happen. I was bluffing, and also wondering if the bluff was somehow counter to the pacifist code? Long story short, Bob Marley and the Whaler circled the shoe-dude, reminded him that he too had made an aggressive move, this was just an accident, and then sent him off with his tail between his legs.

Moral of the story: I was quite proud to ride with this league of gentlemen. Clean and fair racers who defend the other riders and the race itself. Maybe the Godfather was right, the big Lebowski did say, “This aggression will not stand, man.” Somebody ask him to explain the stimpy thing...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Why I now only train with cat. 2 racers

Friday the day after the all-you-can-eat turkey day, and I agree to go for a training ride. The sun is shining and the temperature is 36, but heading to 40. Smart folks stayed inside and ate another piece of pie, I saddled up with Joe College, American Taliban, The ‘young and the restless,’ and Andy Will. Who’s name, ‘Will” I understand roughly translates in Flemish as “tough veal.”

We roll out in an easterly direction, I’m feeling fine, even though I did 2 hours with Cadillac George yesterday (before turkey, mashed potatoes, corn ‘something,’ asparagus, and pie...make that 3 pieces of pie). We talk of the recession, General Motors, Butch’s latest bike purchases, etc. Piece of cake (er, pie) this ride to Croton. After rolling through some pig shit covered roads...note to self clean bike...we turn for home. boing! Into the wind, a stiff wind (ah, that’s why the first hour was so easy) and all that easy rolling downwind sweat was now cooling me off at a fast clip. Plus, I’m really, as they say, ‘”on the rivet.,” battling a nasty block headwind.

I offer to let Andy ride away and I’ll just curl up in this culvert for a bit of hypothermia sleep, ah wonderful sleep. No, he offers to ride in front ALL THE WAY HOME! allowing me to sit on his wheel and keep the needle just below the red zone. No talk just work. Did I mention, all the way home?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Winter Training (thanks to Zack & RATM)

Born of a broken man
Never a broken man
Born of a broken man
But not a broken man

Born of a broken man
Never a broken man
Born of a broken man
But not a broken man

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Top Reads of 2008

It's getting colder outside, time to do some core work and read books. Here's some of my favorites from this past year:

1. THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE, by David Wroblewski - a real story of dogs and humans without all the cute stuff.
2. AMERICAN BUFFALO, by Steven Rinella - hunting wild buffalo in Alaska, but more importantly what the buffalo means to us as a nation.
3. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, by Stieg Larsson - a Swedish mystery starring an x-generation computer hacker.
4. A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS, by Khaled Hosseini - A bit more depressing than The Kite Runner, more evil that men do...
5. COLTRANE, By Ben Raitliff - not just a bio, but the tsunami effects of the great one.
6. WORLD WAR Z, by Max Brooks - when, not if the zombies attack, one needs to be ready!
7. FALLING MAN, by Don DeLillo - The fiction about the aftermath of 9/11 is certainly better than the nonfiction...
8. IN DEFENCE OF FOOD, by Michael Pollan - everything is politics, even food.
9. CRASHING THROUGH, by Robert Kurson - a true story of a blindman to regains sight, and finds 'seeing' a more difficult life than blindness.
10. THE WILD TREES, by Richard Preston - one of my favorite subjects, the redwoods of the Pacific NW, they predated man in America, but might not outlive him!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

OCA declares "Mission Accomplished"

The president of the OCA opened his press conference on the deck of the SS Minnow with his little inside joke, “Don’t mess with Roadhouse, he he he.” Taking a page from the Karl Rove play book, his plan to make the world safe from Tym Hussein has seemingly worked. When questioned about his motive to rid central Ohio of the majority of its road races and criteriums, the president, kept repeating, “anyone that disagrees with me, well, they just hate free wheeling.” Pressed about the future of bicycle racing in Ohio, he would only state, “the people don’t need races, they need democracy.”

Already, large doughy cyclists have been spotted infiltrating the Ohio cycling scene. Their distinctive sausage encased lycra uniforms and foul mouths were reported at local races all year and are planned to be acting as warlords for 2009.

The president rejected repeated requests for interviews, but released a statement suggesting that racers should get a sweet deal like he has to pay for gasoline and travel expenses to races at the far ends of the state and even outside Ohio. “All that travel is good for the economy, and my friends at big oil companies.” Indeed!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Granville RR

A new post-race tradition was inaugurated at today’s Granville road race. Cadillac George and I both brought beer to celebrate (hopefully) another successful race. Of course, with any competitive endeavor, we must out do each other’s selection.

At the start the olive oil magnet and I were discussing the finer points of ‘beer,’ when the West Virginia rider, catching only part of our conversation chimes in, “yeah, me too, I fucked a deer once.” No, “BEER” not “DEER” we were speaking of beer. Yikes! And by the way, this is a family friendly blog, just say you have “known deer in the past.” George and I both made one of those notes to self, watch out for dis guy.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Granville RR not usually an end of the year kind of race, we usually do this baby in spring with temps in the mid-30s and plenty of farm field run off and cow poo to get your fill of antibiotics. Today it was mid-80s, but thankfully low humidity. It would be 4 laps for us 4/5ers.

Chairman Fred lines up too and we try to clue him into the WV guy with a song. George starts with Rocky Top...No no no, that’s the Tennessee song, how about “I am a lineman for the county, and I drive the main roads.” Nope that’s Glen Campbell. Shit, John Denver does that “Rocky Mountain High, Colorado” song. What’s that West Ver-gin-ya song? And oh, by the way, thanks for sending Rich Rodriguez to Michigan, I think they lost to Utah College for Girls in their opener yesterday.

Round we go, everyone taking turns, including the new version of Pascale - Katie (a woman in search of a nickname) our newest teammate. Well, everyone but West Virginia, mountain momma, take me home, country roads. That’s the song, and the mountain momma did plenty of jumping to the front for a coupla seconds then taking a look back only to stop pedaling.

There was also some kid in the race who would mark EVERY move, and continue to mark the racer, even when he tries to pull off the front, following to the left, to the right. It was a like a Buster Keaton silent film for a while.

Chairman Fred tries to shake-n-bake the mtn. momma on the homeward stretch, but he was still full of vinegar and stole the victory. I almost ALMOST pipped Fred on the line for 3rd. Next week my friend, next week.

In the other races, Taliban Andy gets 2nd in the 1-2-3, and Iowa J 4th in the 3/4.

George and I bring out the the suds, I prefer a Belgian white ale to Conti’s Leininkugel black & tan. Sort of like Campy v. Shimano...stay tuned

Monday, August 25, 2008

Long Street Crit

You shoulda been there. Yes siree. Long Street crit is a fantastic day in the city. Food. Live band. Correction FREE food, live band and racing racing racing. Jaybone, Luca Brasi – the ultimate fighter, and I warmed up to some Parliament Funkadelic on the double twisty huge 180 turned ultra safe course. Bootsy wails, “Ain’t nothing but a party baby.” Indeed. About 30 partiers line up for the 4/5 race. 25 laps was going to take us about 30 minutes. Team Dayton takes almost immediate control of the race and you know “…she’s a brick….house..” around we go, back again past the band, “…mighty mighty, just letting all hang out…” Hip and way better than the usual recorded techno crap we race around. Chambers and Allred maintain a nice position throughout the race, always in the top 10 riders, “…she’s a freak, a super freak, she’s kinda freaky.” I hover in the back, comfortable that our 26 mph will drop the squirrels. Both Luca and Boneman take a few trips off the front, “.."Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin.” Only 1 small crash in the 180 turn, a Cincy kid falls but is not hurt. “…I break down, in a COLD SWEAT,” and that’s my signal – James Brown calls me to the, I gotta say it, calls me to The Bridge. I sprint past Dayton to take a lap in the lead. I guess you gotta get up to get down. Nope. Dayton shuts everything off. I head back to mid-pack and finish there. I seems Chairman Fred and I are just getting our racing legs under us. Anyone want a piece of me - well in October?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Corroto stripped of State RR honors!

After being awarded a beautiful 3rd place plaque at the Ohio State road race championships, I was later told that race organizers had stripped me of this title. But that is the end of this tale, why not start at the beginning.

Team Escarole brought 5 racers to Danville, Oh! for the state championships. Cadillac George and Chairman Fred for the 55+ Golden Buckeye race, Jaybone ‘sometimes-red’ for the 35+, me, and ‘no longer the kid’ Andy Schleck would be doing the 1-2-3. We also found Andy’s brother Dan Schleck and poppa Tom entering the Citizens race. Neither whom are Team Jellyroll racers, but if they won, surely we would take credit for their feets!, er feats

You might remember the Danville course from last year, Chairman Fred did one lap - pulled over to his car and drove straight for home, while Cadillac did the lone cha-cha for 20+ miles. Remember, also Andy made a winning move only to be forced off his bike with cramps, oh so close to the finish line. The race is an up and down (never flat) affair with a steep climbs in the 18.5 mile circuit. I chose the 4/5 race because I’m too young to hold a Golden Buckeye card and I wasn’t reared (sorry Jay) in the hills of Richland county.

Although hilly, it is a fabulous course that really settles matters, smooth roads and well marshaled corners. The only hazards here were the AIEDs (or Amish Improvised Explosive Devices), basically poo from their many horse drawn carriages. No $4/gallon worries in Danville. In fact the locals took time out from their chores to marvel at the multicolored lycra clad riders. We heard that they eschew Campy and Shimano for old school down tube shifters and 6-speed cassettes. Unfortunately they were banned from the race for refusing to trade their straw hats for an approved helmet.

My race exploded straight away on the first climb, I fell in with a few riders, chatting up the TDF “yeah, doesn’t Cadel have a chipmunk face when he is put under a spot of bother…” all while most of the race was up the road. Soon we rolled past Fred trying to untangle himself from a kinked chain, and we passed riders that were soloing themselves to the parking lot. Near the end of the first lap poppa Will rolls by me with the leaders from the open race. I stepped on it, mostly working the downhills to close the gap and then, Tom and I worked together for the remainder of lap one and the entire second lap.

Onward Tom and I rode, passing riders, poo, and perhaps the highlight on my day was dumping two bottles of cold water on my overheated carcass and screaming 47 mph down the backside hills. Pure bliss.

Who knows where you finish in a race like this, everyone rolls in as single or double riders. Apparently they had scored me in 3rd, only to be corrected as forth. Sorry, no tales of doping here. Although Fred and I shared a few Advils at the start. Officials politely pried the 3rd place plaque out of my very tired hands.

Congrats to Cadillac and Tom Will on their 3rd place finishes in the 55+ and citizen’s race respectively.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Grandview - Saturday

It’s the Master’s flat criterium saturday race and the pace is hot, the 35 racers are averaging somewhere near 26/27 mph. As Todd Lee explained, they wanted to start fast to shake the squirrely riders out of the mix. Like many races this year, I hung for most of the race, only to be doing the off-the-back tango to finish. The last few laps got the voices in my head chattering again. Here’s a recap of the conversation:

The Glass Half Empty Guy (let’s call him Devil): Another race where you’re getting your teeth kicked in, why not hang it up and just do this ‘biking thing,’ stay in shape and do some charity tours?

The Glass Half Full Guy (the Competitor): No way, you know this is just part of my comeback year from the knee surgery.

Devil: You’re nearly 50 years old, you’re not getting any faster, or growing new muscle fibers, come on...join a bowling team, paint the kitchen, people your age....

Competitor: Shut your pie-hole, Don’t you think I’ve heard this before. Remember what the fat sausage racer from the Central Ohio Disease Control used to say to us? “You suck, you’re too slow...loser” And like Chairman Fred, we ignored his taunts and let our legs do the talking.

Devil: Sure that was motivation, but this is reality. Even Fred is suffering here. You spent all last winter training, while Fred was off the bike, he’s coming into form, you might actually be getting slower.

Competitor: I spent 5 months on crutches, 6 more in PT, my resting heart rate is 45 now, I have the fitness, but...

Devil: Yeah, but not the force applied to the pedals. This is all about strength and power.

Competitor: Right, but I have not been able to build quad strength in the gym, I can’t do squats or leg press.

Devil: It’s called arthritis, you’ve got no cartilage in that knee joint. Haven’t you been reading the arthritis magazines that come in the mail every month? The ones with the baby-booming couples walking on the beach, doing light yoga and enjoying their middle years.

Competitor: And they look so happy while they are not over-exerting themselves...and most of them have full heads of hair too!

Devil: You know this is a losing battle, those people clapping for you are the same ones who clap for the special olympic competitors. The race is up the road, you’re wasting your time here.

Sammy: What about your team? The guys that come out every week and train/race with you?

Devil: Who the hell are you?

Sammy: Just another voice in Mark’s head

Competitor: It’s getting a bit crowded in here..

Devil: You shut up.

Sammy: No, You shut up...

Competitor: OK, let’s get back to the issue at hand, I’m suffering in a race, again.

Sammy: Hey, check out the tattoos on that dude by the start line.

Competitor: That’s not a dude, she’s a chick. Is ComFest this weekend?

Devil: Comon’ just stop pedaling. Pull over to the side, you’re embarrassing yourself.

Competitor: Maybe, but it is just part of the larger plan. Suffer now and race stronger later. And look, there’s George and Mike - they have been dropped too, guess I’ll finish the race with them.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Granville Race

The 4/5 race at Granville, home of Dennison University, was again the appetizer for the Tour of Ohio. We had the pleasure to race on a tough course set up for the big boys and unlike previous Granville races this one wound up and around (and up...and up) the university. Again, our guys were the dominant riders in the race, with Matt Herring the winner. Who is this guy? Mike Rea has a theory that Matt’s a genetic clone of Farmer John, big, strong, and fast.

You know what happened, but where to start? Maybe with karma. Farmer John promised us he’d upgrade (and get his monkey strength out of our events) for this race. But, just before we start, there he is suiting up to race with us senior citizens! Damn you compost man.

We had previewed the course and knew the race turned right and began climbing right off. Then there’s a left turn and up some more. Another right and quick left to more up and up. The ten laps = 11 miles took 40 minutes! Do the math, it might have been the slowest race we’ve ever done. That is because the downhill bottomed into an almost 180 turn. I clamped down of the brakes all the way down.

We start the first lap and I call, “neutral lap,” who knew this would be the sportsman practice for later on. Everyone agreed and we take a slow trudge up the course for lap one. When the racing did start, no one could really accelerate with any authority on the steep climbs.

Our lead vehicle, a VW Bug was doing a nice job until we encountered another car on the course. Instead of leading he stopped, blocking the course, farmer John ended up over the top of his bars landing on Luca Brasi. Ouch. Was it bad luck or maybe John’s old friend karma that caused the accident? After teaching us a few new curse words we all agreed to ride neutral to the start to allow the big man to check himself for broken parts. But now he’s mad and the real racing starts. We begin passing dropped riders, and I spot some peregrine falcons that were nesting at the altitudes.

Stress, pain, and a bit of fun, I hang for 5th place. John promises to get out of our races, but now we have his genetic (and younger) twin to deal with for the rest of the year.

After our race, we did what good teammates do, we climbed the hill and made fun of the other racers.

then we watched them go down.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Worthington Race

Fantastic course, fast, wide, clean, in a word safe. And there is always a real nice turnout of neighborhood fans with yard parties. Our race the 4/5 was just a warm up for the Tour of Ohio 120 strong event. I think we lined up 16 racers, Luca Brasi, Farmer John, Cadillac, Matt, and myself.

George and I did our famous off-the-back-breakaway(?) for the last 4 laps and heard later that Farmer John had won again! Congrats and yes, he’s agreed to our demands, and will move up to Cat. 3 racing starting tomorrow. I guess Mike Rea will have good company.

Footnote from the world of the eternal boneheads; the Central Ohio Disease Control team appeared tonight, dropping one of their Cat 1-2-3 racers in our race (and aren’t you just proud of yourselves?) plus another hairy racer. By now, no one gives a crap what the diseased ones do, except as Cadillac George and I freewheeled across the finish, way out of the money, the follicled racer was in full sprint to pass us. George turned to me and I think we both exclaimed, ”whatta dick” at the same time...ah, some things never change...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bob Roll says “Peckerhead better than TOSRV”

It was an honor to be invited to this annual event, 35, 65, and the John Holmes long - hilly 75 miles of cycling classic. And no, it wasn’t Bob Roll who rode but a guy Bob from Roll: who said that the Peckerhead was “just like TOSRV but without the hobos and showering with strangers.” Sometimes you forget that a ride can happen without an entry fee, a life threatening disease, a fundraiser, or a cause. Allah knows we’ve done way too many ‘rides for a purpose’ these days. I understand Chairman Fred almost couldn’t keep his bike upright due from all the yellow ribbons he was wearing to support the troops, the mothers of the troops, the troops abandoned pets, abandoned paramours, etc. No, today wasn’t about causes, just a great reason to get out in nature, pee off a moving bicycle and make fun of your closest friends. Beautiful ride, great beer, fantastic chocolate lab. Thanks Jay, you dork.

Here’s some overheard remarks from the Peckerhead:

I laughed, I cried, I changed a flat while everyone else took a natural break
--Eva Simmons

Who knew there was 6,000 feet of climbing in Richland county?
--Tom Will

Hey, who was that Amish guy on the bike that looked like the uni-bomber?
--Dave Chambers

I think Stuart is still on the road, must of took a wrong turn in Albuquerque.
--Mike Rea

Saturday, June 7, 2008

‘twas the night before the Philly race

Mark and Mel’s most excellent yearly trip to the Philadelphia pro race, now called Commerce Bank Triple Crown, began 1 day before the race, with a short spin from our hotel in Conshohocken to Manayunk. Home of the famous ‘Manayunk wall,’ a climb that rises 500 feet in 1K, with parts tipping 17%, the racers with battle up it 10 times in their 156 mile race tomorrow. Did someone say ouch? And I can testify that it is indeed a leg breaker. We rode up early in the morning, without downing the usual double espresso (a move I wouldn’t recommend anyone try) and I got that ‘can’t get enough oxygen’ dizzy feeling at the top.

Thankfully we rolled down for a cuppa coffee at a local joint and watched Magnus Backstedt and his Slipstream teammates roll by. And there’s Alex Candelario, coolness.

It’s now nearly 90 degrees, Africa hot, and a local shop is allowing demo rides of new Cervelo bicycles. Will it be the Soloist SLC-SL at 990 grams or the R3-SL at 800 grams! Tough choice, but I rode the Soloist with Zipp 303 wheels. Bike lust is a terrible thing. Indeed.

Time for another espresso, and bonus - we run into the entire Team Highroad. We chat it up with former British champion Roger Hammond for a couple minutes and he poses for a picture, then he acts as the photographer for one of my cycling heroes Servais Knaven, winner of Paris-Roubaix 2001. Could it get any better than this?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Interview with Mike Rea aka RR 2.o

Mike Rea of Team Roll: won the 2008 Torelli Spring Road Race Series outpacing his Masters opponents by nearly double the available points. He recently sat down with RyLo for this interview

RyLo: Congratulations Mike on your domination of the Torelli Series.

MR:  Thank you.  The cool thing about cycling is that it’s a team effort and that was definitely the case for the Masters in team roll: this Spring.  Our core group of 4 riders (George Conti, Mark Corroto, Dave Chambers and I) rode consistently through the series and in the end it seems to have paid off for our team.  These guys are also awesome to train and race with. 

RyLo: What were your goals coming into the 2008 season, and have they 

MR: No real goal changes.  I wanted to upgrade to Cat 3 which took place recently and I also hoped to have some good race results.  We have lots of talent on our team this year and moving forward I want to work hard for the rest of the guys so they can also accomplish their season goals. My race schedule is less structured for the rest of the season, but I would like to ride some of the upcoming Central Ohio criteriums and the Newmark criterium this month. Possibly the Danville state race in July and the Pur Tour in August.   

RyLo: It seems there has always been a leader of this team, and the 
aptly named Chairman Fred Parks was noticeably absent early this 
year, have you taken over as captain of, at least the masters squad?

MR:  No way!  Chairman Fred will always hold the honor of being "Top Dog" for our Masters.  Although he wasn't present in many of the early Spring races, he spent that time training and is really coming into form just in time for the criteriums which are his specialty.  Look for big things from Fred this season.  In fact I rode with him tonight and his power and sprint are definitely coming on strong.  Speaking of Fred, he and I go back a ways and one of my favorite racing experiences with him took place at the Mt. Vernon criterium in 2003, our first year as teammates.  Just a few laps into that race Fred attacked the field and I stayed back to try and control the chasers.  Fred stayed clear the entire race and had a big win.  I was able to come around the chase group at the end for a 2nd place finish.  That was a pretty great time.  

RyLo: What do you attribute you success to this Year? Rumor has it 
that you are working with a coach.

MR I have been working with Ashley Powell at  My teammate Mark Corroto recommended Ashley after successfully working with him a few seasons ago.  Ashley is terrific and he really pushed me to reach a level of fitness I would not have achieved on my own.  

Rylo: Any specific workouts you wish to share with us?

MR:  I think my big benefits came from the AT intervals I was doing in the preseason.  Shortly before the season began I was up to doing 2 AT intervals at 30 minutes each.  These really helped me develop power and endurance. 

RyLo: I notice that you ride/race without the use of a power meter, 
heart-rate monitor and you don't have a cadence or speed sensor, why?

MR:  During the preseason I did use a heart rate monitor to stay in the proper training zones.  But I'm one of the least analytical people you will meet and I have just never been able to discipline myself to track a lot of numbers and data.  There is no doubt that tools like power meters can be a huge help for a racing cyclist, but I guess I'm just a little too old school. 

RyLo: Who are your cycling heroes?

One of my cycling heroes is Glenn Groves - an old time racer from here in Central Ohio.  Folks like Chairman Fred and maybe Cadillac George who were around cycling in this area 15 or more years ago probably remember Glenn.  Back in the days of FBCI (Franklin Bicycle Club) Glenn was an extremely dominant bike racer and he raced well into his 50's.  Last summer Jeff Jackson and I ran into Glenn in Ostrander during a summer training ride.  Glenn is one of those guys who never meets a stranger and he invited us to his house after our ride.  He has more medals and trophies from winning bike races than all the podium finishes of every bike racer I know combined.  His house is also a virtual museum of old bikes and Central Ohio cycling photos from the 50's, 60's and 70's.  He's a pretty cool guy and is extremely interesting to talk to.  Glenn is still a strong rider and you can sometimes run into him on the weekends when riding north of Delaware.    

RyLo: What is the best piece of cycling advice you have ever received?

MR: My friend Jeff Jackson once told me "it is about the journey and not the destination".  I think this is true not only for cycling but also for life.  I try to keep this in mind when I get too wrapped up in daily details.

RyLo: tell us about your worst day on a bicycle

MR: Probably my worst day on the bike was in 2006 when I raced at Granville with Breakaway.  It was one of those early season road races with lots of rain and temperatures somewhere in 50's.  I was warming up with Mark Corroto and Andy Will before the race and we were all wondering why we were there since the rain was so hard and cold.  The rain continued during the race and it was pretty miserable.  At the end of our race there was a pretty big pileup during the sprint due to the wet roads (I seem to remember that someone broke their frame in two pieces during their crash).  Mark and I went to a coffee shop in town after the race to try and warm up and I remember asking myself why I raced that day.  I guess stuff like that builds character. 

RyLo: Rumor has it that you take part in a secret pepper club, and 
perform a 'pepper ritual,' are you at liberty to explain?

MR: Well, I'm not sure I'm able to say too much about that.  Each summer one of our Team roll: racers and his wife acquire goat horn peppers from an undisclosed location though unknown means.  My understanding is that the ancient Romans harvested these peppers and valued them for their almost magical powers to increase stamina and virility.  The peppers are laid out on a table and everyone who is present participates in a ritual of asking the gods to bestow magical powers upon the peppers.  After that the peppers are mixed with some secret ingredients and placed special glass containers that have been passed down through several generations.  One year I remember asking about the ingredients and was told the last person who asked that question is now known as "ole 9 fingers".

I've heard that cycling greats Fausto Coppi and Alredo Binda consumed this magical mixture and attributed much of their racing success to the almost spiritual powers of these mysterious peppers.  

Clinchers or tubulars: clinchers

do you shave your legs in the off season: no

road race or criterium: road race

If I didn't race I probably be: a fat, lazy couch potato

chamois creme or not: definitely during longer races an training rides.

Shimano or Campy: Shimano

rather ride with Greg Lemond or Lance Armstrong: Tough choice - probably Greg Lemond.  It would be cool to hear some stories about racing back in the day.

Favorite cycling movie: Breaking Away

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Nelsonville Criterium: by the numbers

Laps: 25
Temp: 79 F
Max Speed: 32 mph
Avg Speed: 22.5 mph

HR Max: 196
HR Avg: 174
Avg Watts: 218
Max Watts: 850
Watts/kg: 3.31

Placing: 3rd

Here's a few more numbers for you;

the last crit I participated in: 22 months ago ( I really miss the corner/sprint/corner)
winner's age: 41 (don't think he is shaving yet)
Number of times Frankie Andreau called Cadillac George's name: 6
Road surface better or worse than Marysville: worse (makes China's earthquake terrain look flat)
water bottles lost on cobbles: all (and on the first lap! gulp)
miles driven to win a new tire: 180
temp of water in bottle given to me by Rea: 65F (can you say 'yuck')
Number of World champions racing: 1 (not in the Master's race silly)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Mid-Ohio ode to a Cadillac George victory

with apologies to Mr Dylan, I present Like A Rolling Stone

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a gel in your prime lap, didn't you?
People'd call, say, "Beware Cadillac, you're bound to fall"
You thought they were all kiddin' you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was spinnin' out
Now you don't talk so loud
Now you don't seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next leadout.

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a roll:ing stone?

You've gone to the finest school (actually MSU), Mr. Biodiesel
But you know you only used to get juiced on it
And nobody has ever taught you how to live in breakaway
And now you find out you're gonna have to get used to it
You said you'd never compromise
With the mystery Shimano cranks, but now you realize
Tym's not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his tubulars
And ask him do you want to make a deal?

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete cobc'er
Like a roll:ing stone?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Lessons learned at Sugar Grove RR

A mea culpa is not a great reason to attend a race.

Saying, “Hey, guys wait up” never works in a combined 3/4/Masters field.

Faking your own death is not an option when you are dropped in the Master’s race.

You can produce 375 watts and only 7 mph of speed if the climb is steep enough.

Local citizen’s cannot tell that you’ve been dropped, they think you are on one big solo breakaway...and cheer you on.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

O-V-R Death Race

I drove 105 miles to the Ohio Valley Race today to get a look at what all the shouting was about. And there certainly was a crowd, I think each category was full at 50 racers! While Tym’s races have been less than full fields this year, at least there have been no near death experiences.

As advertised to the corn-fed Midwest cycling crowd (and unlike a Tym race) the course was flat. I’m guessing the local Wendy’s shareholders prefer their bacon double cheeseburgers training plans to skip challenging courses. I met fellow teammates Cadillac George, Pascalinator, Andy ‘where’s the climb’ Will, and Iowa J. OK, let’s see what all the fuss is about. Yikes! There’s the cobc sausage head and his misogynist minions calling attention to every rider with breasts. George took up a collection so sausage boy and Bauhaus could get a room and consummate their negative love. One can only hope...

We roll out on narrow, no berm pothole roads that aren’t fit for an SUV to drive on. The fields were way too big for such nonsense with cars constantly passing us in the opposite direction. You know where this is going, don’t you?

Three crashes, Two bad ones, two folks life flighted to hospitals and the officials terminate the race after only one lap.

Brilliant! Who is running this joint? Big fields, bad roads, traffic...oh yeah the prize money advertised was BIG! Why not risk your neck after paying $3.69/gallon for gas to get there...

Can somebody tell me why anybody races OVR races? I’m certain the Quadriplegic racer from 2006 wishes he had ridden the safer Tym Tyler races, same goes for today’s victims...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thursday Night Training Ride

Anybody else spot the COBC rider pass us in the opposite direction tonight? I did think he had an innovative time trial position!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Yellow Springs Race

Want a race report? Go read ManRea's blog. Today, I chose to be Scotty from TV's Star Trek ..."Captain, I'm givin' all she's got....I've got no more power in me engine room!"

Sixth place for me, sounds better than it actually was...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tour of Richland County or I want to be the Governor of New York

Before I announce my candidacy for the NY governor’s office, I want to let you know I thought I was prepared for saturday’s race at Malabar (see photo above). Who knew there would be no snow this week, after having the last 4 races canceled due to the white stuff, I was prepared with my new snow-bike-mobile.

Being locked in the house for the past 4 weeks must have been the reason for the big turnout at the parking lot. Besides Rudy Guliani’s new comb-over/no comb-over, I saw (for our team) Rea-Rea 2.o, the Woodman, Iowa-J, Mansfield-J, Mansfield Mark, Man-of-Gawd, the Y&TR, Cadillac George (whose new racing getup is all black) and Pascalinator and her mom. We’re thinking of starting a whole new blog just to cover Pascale’s mother as a Dr. Ruth look-alike.

Tym gives me a race number “709” as in “client #9 and I’m beginning to feel a little Elliot Spitzer. Couple that with temps at 40 degrees and wind gusts at 25+ mph and sports fans, who doesn’t like their action kinda rough and dangerous?

We were scheduled for 30 miles on the up-and-down of Richland county (notice: I didn’t say in-and-out) with it’s share of dogs and locals who hate bikers with Confederate flags proudly displayed. Not dogs with flags but dogs in pickups with flags. The county road crews conveniently spread lotsa gravel on the climbs and in the turns just to give the locals (I mean dogs) the advantage.

I’m told, there are some things even Cinnamon wouldn’t do.

I’m in the masters race with everyone from ex-pros like Greg Lemond to the guy wearing gym shorts and a “I heart NY” t-shirt, maybe he’ll vote for me! To my left is Cadillac George and his 20 excuses, Woodman - “That’s Dr. Woodman, son,” the Mansfield Mark, and Rea-Rea 2.o. The neutral rollout up and up nears my lactate threshold. So I squeeze my new GU viagras and we are off. The first lap of three is quite civil, as we view the turkey vultures making a nice meal of veal McRibs just off the road. The second climb up and we have lost a few of the faithful. Halfway through the second lap and the steep steep roller, I, as they say, ‘popped’. Goodbye Rea-Rea and the bunch. The old joke “Do you smoke after sex?” comes to mind, and yes, the punch line is “I don’t know, I’ve never looked.” My man-on-man masters action is over for the day, all I have to do is finish this race without getting caught by the the big black olive oil biodiesel cadillac that is chasing me.

Just like Elliott Spitzer, my dangerous action would probably be solo for the remainder of the race. Past the dogs, and rednecks and the vultures I rode.

I finished sixth, alone, no Cinnamon, no limo, no problem. The ex-governor might have paid $4800/yr for his master's action . Mine was $25 for an hour and a half, same as ‘in the city.’

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Another Canceled Race - Saturday

Snow, snow snow. Another weekend INSIDE and on the trainer! But to quote Walter Sobchak, "Dude, you cannot take this negative energy into the tournament."

So we do our intervals indoors, a kind of abiding....

Saturday, March 8, 2008

WINTER - Training Test Part 1.

In a clinical study, performed under scientific parameters this past weekend, American Taliban – Andy Will attempted to accomplish his normal interval workout under the controlled conditions of the aptly named “Chick Flick Training Test.” The results are detailed below. First, allow me to explain the proposal for this study and the possible ramifications of DVD viewing on both VO2 Max and suicidal thoughts/actions.

The task of winter training has been helped immensely by Netflix and three little letters W-C-P. World Cycling Productions packages last years professional cycling race videos for purchase. These include the three grand tours – Giro d’Italia, the Spanish Vuelta, Tour de France, and the spring classics (my favorites). This year they also released an 8-hour version of the 2007 Tour of California where you can play the game ‘find Mel’ by looking for my wife on certain climbs along the route. Note: that’s not her wearing the Grim Reaper costume. You might find that trainer riding while watching a cyclist suffer along side of you to be as entertaining as my dog fat Louie watching the squirrels in the back yard. Or if you are like me, the rhythms of the peloton are one great “OM” or hypnotic inducing trance.

Unfortunately, once you are through the 30 or so hours of race videos it is still December. There is the option of watching the 1999 TDF again, you know the only one where Lance Armstrong says or does something unscripted. We started looking for other choices.

Alternatives to race videos are television, but sorry, I can’t take the commercials and the NFL, NBA, NASCAR (not a sport), WNBA, NHL, NCAA Basketball, and ultimate fighting have been banned in my house. That leaves us with DVD rentals on Netflix. What a godsend! 3 DVDs to my door, and three more on the way anytime I say so. Pop a flick in, and 2 hours later you are wiping sweat off your bike, trainer and floor. Easy as pie.

Andy and I have found certain videos have yielded better workouts, harder efforts, and less opportunities to be distracted by housework, homework, or significant spouses. Thus, less chance one will ride off the sides of your rollers and into the Emergency room. Top films for indoor training would certainly fail the UCI’s allowable testosterone levels. This years top films include:

1. Shoot ‘em Up - hundreds of dead bodies and plenty of guns
2. Transformers - kid's toys attack
3. Live Free or Die Hard - God bless Bruce Willis
4. Casino Royale - Finally Bond gets pissed off
5. The Bourne Ultimatum - Doing to the CIA - what it does to us.
6. American Gangster - a Denzel your mom would hate
7. 28 Days Later - Zombies that can sprint
8. MotoGP 2004 - Better than the cycling crash video
9. Eastern Promises - Naked guys knife fighting
10. Superbad - Somebody on the team is gonna be tagged as “McLovin” real soon

I’ve also found loud, I mean LOUD concert videos have really benefited me during tough intervals, favorites include:

1. The Pixies Sellout - Anybody else think A. Burns resembles Flank Black?
2. Rage Against The Machine Battle of Mexico City - Zack de la Rocha really puts it to the man, wait a minute, I’m the man! (got to cover this with my shrink next session)

But what would happen if you trained while viewing a testosterone-free movie? No car chases, no guns, no smirking Bruce Willis? Cat. 2 road racer Andy Will, accepted this challenge. Actually, he said he would take my test IF we weren’t riding outside by the first of March. Who knew winter would refuse to leave? Saddle up guinea pig.

Because my grant from the National Institute of Sports Science was turned down we didn’t obtain the oxygen mask and blood hemocrit tester and since Andy doesn’t use a power meter, heart rate monitor, or a freakin’ speedometer, this test has morphed into a purely subjective evaluation. His test movie choices, either Fried Green Tomatoes or Bridget Jones Diary were to be played during the actual interval session. “Blaaat” is the sound of one cyclist throwing up – but my observations would remain purely objective.

Andy was allowed one bottle of water every hour. Rollers were chosen because if he attempted to close his eyes during the test he would ride off the sides of the rollers and break a collarbone. At no time was he allowed to adjust the volume of the video or switch to the McNeil/Lehrer Report. He was to be given a two minute bathroom break every hour for a total ride of three hours. For the first hour warm-up, he was shown movie trailers from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, several Jane Austin novels, and a sampling of movies by Hugh Grant, Dame Judy Dentch, and Kevin Costner.

Look for Part 2 - the Chick Flick Training Test

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Testa Della Corsa

A wise man once told me, "It's not what you accomplish in life, but what you overcome." 

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Frosty Bro’s race 2/16/2008

Race day, the phone rings it’s Rea-Rea, I ask what time is it?
“did you see the Grammy’s?”
“The Grammy Awards, the the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of ...”
No, did you? and what time is...nevermind what’s the temperature?
“Fifteen degrees, but have you ever heard of Amy Winehouse?”
who? no, why?
“How about Feist? Michael BublĂ©? Plain White T's?”
No, no and No...and such are the seeds for the conversation for the MASTERS race set to begin the 2008 season in mid-February. Normally I don’t race in subfreezing temperatures but since this is a leap year and the hollywood writer’s strike had just ended, I couldn’t stay at home one more saturday and NOT peal the old wallpaper off the ‘looks-just-fine-to-me’ kitchen. Besides the Masters race was to feature the likes of Cadillac George, Luca Brasi, and the aforementioned Rea-Rea (all slimmed down and jacked up).

I roll up to the start and Cadillac is ranting about Herbie Hancock winning album of the year, “Did you hear his Joni Mitchell Tribute? trash!” he proclaims.
I know Geo., I prefer his work with the Miles Davis second great quintet, or Rockit, for that matter, but pop music is more about Starbucks than, well music these days.
The start line also finds Farmer John and the Young-and-the-restless Andy in the 1-2-3-4 race (good luck cat. 4s), and trailing our start, in the Cat 5 race, was the man of Gawd, Dan T.

We roll out and Luca sings a constant refrain from a George Thorogood record, maybe as a way to block the Grammy conversation. “Yeah, Luca, you’re bad to the bone, shut up already!”

Three laps at ten miles a lap - the pace is brisk here’s the stats. First lap 21.3 MPH, Second 20.7, third 21.4 mph. Everyone takes turns at the front, and because we are in a heavy discussion about the state of the music industry we cooperate. Yeah, by the start Rea-Rea’s Grammy fever had spread. Sure we all had gone online to listen to a few notes from Amy Winehouse’s “hit” the lyrics go something like this:

They tried to make me go to rehab
I said no, no, no.
Yes I been black, but when I come back
You wont know, know, know.

I ain’t got the time
And if my daddy thinks im fine
He’s tried to make me go to rehab
I wont go, go, go.

“Brilliant” Rea-Rea chimes in sarcastically - might be Alexander Vinokourov’s theme song, But the music sounds like something from 1960’s motown. “Sure, that’s the thing, these kids have NO music of their own time, for their own time.”
Who did we have, I ask Peter Frampton? The Eagles? Styx? I think I’m gonna be sick...
Finally Luca wakes up (I think we are in lap two), “hey what about the Commodores? Then he starts singing - which makes us all start singing

She's a brick----house
Mighty mighty, just lettin' it all hang out
She's a brick----house
The lady's stacked and that's a fact,
ain't holding nothing back.
She knows she got everything
a woman needs to get a man, yeah.
How can she use, the things she use
36-24-36, what a winning hand!
She's a brick----house
Mighty mighty, just lettin' it all hang out
She's a brick----house

Nothing like the classics! and the race is on, all the brotherly love displayed in the first 2 laps of the race turns into a a family reunion for Uday and Qusay Hussein. I’m trying to figure out how I can drop my teammates and they do the same.
Luckily the finish of the Frosty Toes sets up just like a Baghdad street with parked cars, bomb craters, and gravel everywhere. We make the final right turn and I follow the diesel engine of Cadillac George (outfitted for 2008 as an olive oil bio-diesel ) up the short incline past a few of the locals to get third place just behind the newly revamped star Rea-Rea. 2.0.

Summary: no crashes, no frostbite, no Pascale - so, no underwear dance. We take 4 out of the top 5 finishes in the Master's race, and thus it starts...

Monday, February 11, 2008

I saw my own death on a training ride

Training in February in Ohio in a 25 mph wind merits induction into the Become-Belgian-For-a-Day club. Forget Beech Mountain, Ventoux, Mt. Washington, etc, etc. Planning an interval session on the open farmland roads of Ohio in the wind is about as epic as you can get. Last Saturday, ManRay, and the two Wills joined me for a 2 hour survivor episode that included flooded roads, 25 mph winds gusting to 33, and temperatures nearly 40 degrees! (wind chills below freezing).

But who knew? At 8am the temperature was 37, no wind, and I think I saw the sun come up. I immediately phoned the ManRay waking him from his doughnut induced sleep. The plan was to do a couple sets of 25 minute intervals at LT. That’s “Lactate Threshold” intervals, not “Life Threatening” as it turned out.

We rolled out to sunny skies and the locals tossing rose petals at our feet (maybe it was beef jerky). The road to Waldo was clear, and after 30 minutes warm up, I was feeling strong – some say it was the 25 mph wind at my back. The intervals start, and of course we turned into the wind. My speed slowed from the brisk 24mph to a crawl. Was my brake stuck? Do I need a new chain? Old man winter blows. We invented a new cycling posture with the wind blowing sideways, I rode straight ahead AND leaned as if in a criterium turn while I pushed one break hood and pulled the other to stay upright. At one point there was inquiry if I could maintain the speed of 12mph. The answer was no. I rode at 170bpm and 11mph! Snot froze. Hands numbed, and then we arrived at the road closed by the winter flood waters. At least in New Orleans you got gumbo – all we had was a second hour of trudging back to home base and of course the weather had turned from bad to Belgian. Winds shifted, more riding into the wind and not one fatty to draft behind.

At one point I had to slap a delirious rider to keep him from taking refuge in a drainage ditch and accepting the gentle sleep afforded by hypothermia. Luckily our team is sponsored by a nice bookstore with a fine espresso machine. That was probably the only saving grace and the one beacon calling us back to civilization.