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)