Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wow. Life's Changed.

So my life has changed tremendously in many ways since I last posted just over a year ago. Some of this change has been tremendously good. Some of it has been profoundly painful and difficult to endure. But here I am, in one piece and enjoying some degree of a normal existence, at last. Life in Chicago had become very unsatisfying for me - on a lot of levels. It was clear to me about two years ago that some large-scale personal and professional adjustments needed to be made if I was going to keep from finding myself in a very sad and dangerous place.

It's strange to wake up one day and realize that things you've devoted huge amounts of time and effort to are not providing the return (financially, emotionally, physically, etc) you'd hoped for. To finally stop cold and say to yourself, "this is untenable and cannot continue" is incredibly difficult, especially for someone who has a high-achieving, driven personality. But I did it. And I'm better for having experienced it.

So I'm in Richmond, VA. My career has once again been placed on a track for growth, I enjoy riding my bike, exploring history, the weather is agreeable, my cats are happy, and life is good. While that's all wonderful and nice, I still struggle with demons every day. I've learned things about myself over the past two years that now allow me to better deal with my own flaws and tolerate those of others without conflict. It's a form of growth that staying in Chicago would not have permitted.

Sure, there are people and things in Chicago that I dearly miss but there are just as many that I can easily do without. I suppose there are always trade offs when a change of venue happens but right now, I'm working on me, finding my way, figuring things out and doing as I wish without encumbrances. It's refreshing and scary all at once and right now, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

An Old Post I Didn't Post

Off the front, laying it down in Evanston

NOTE: This entry was initially posted back in July but not to this blog. Here you now have my Evanston GP recap.

Superweek is a 21 day series of races that occurs every July in the Chicago and Milwaukee area. The racing is fast, hard, aggressive and incredibly exciting. The Evanston Grand Prix has been a part of the series for a few years now and has probably become my favorite event - a tight, technical .8mi hourglass shaped course in downtown Evanston, IL that suits me well. The crowd is always huge and the fan support is amazing.

Racing got underway a little late for our 35 lap race due to some strong thunderstorms that moved through the area earlier in the day. I knew the field was full of some quality sprinting horsepower so it was my plan to attack and hopefully get away with a small group. My first attack at 32 laps to go was hauled back in within a lap. When I was caught, I immediately counter-attacked my own move and was alone, off the front, for the remainder of the race. I caught and lapped the field!

A lot of things went through my mind as I fought fatigue and dehydration on a very hot day - this is insane! You're going to get caught! My legs hurt so terribly bad! I can't believe I did this to myself! As my gap grew and I settled into a sustainable pace things changed and my head came around to a more positive place. In the end, I allowed the peloton to roll away and contest the sprint for second place and I crossed the line alone, hands in the air, tears in my eyes. It was an amazing and wonderful feeling to work so incredibly hard and achieve something I've always wanted.

My ride is dedicated to my best friend and training partner who was nearly killed by a truck while training on his bike nearly seven weeks ago. He is my motivation, inspiration and reason for living. Mike - I love you with all my heart and I am here for you as you suffer, struggle and fight to regain your life. My mind was filled with thoughts of you as I suffered and dug deeply into that painful and uncertain place called 'off the front.' It's a place you introduced me to and you are there with me every time I visit. Thank you for being you - I am here for you, always.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Don't want to be an actor pretending on the stage
Don't want to be a writer with my thoughts out on the page
Don't want to be a painter 'cause everyone comes to look
Don't want to be anything where my life's an open book

A dream it's true
But I'd see it through
If I could be
Wasting my time with you

Don't want to be a farmer working in the sun
Don't want to be an outlaw always on the run
Don't want to be a climber reaching for the top
Don't want to be anything where I don't know when to stop

A dream it's true
But I'd see it through
If I could be
Wasting my time with you

So if I'm inside your head
Don't believe what you might have read
You'll see what I might have said
To hear it

Come waste your time with me
Come waste your time with me

So if I'm inside your head
Don't believe what you might have read
You'll see what I might have said
To hear it

Come waste your time with me
Come waste your time with me
Come waste your time with me
Come waste your time with me

Come waste your time with me

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Back from the Edge But Still at the Zoo...

It's been a while and I will make no guarantees that I'll be back for long but after a bit of a hiatus I'm offering today's 5min VO2 effort playlist. I'm on sabbatical on a lot of levels, working through some personal, athletic and professional issues that have consumed my time and attention for a few months now.

Here's what we're massaging our eardrums with this afternoon:

Keep the Car Running - Arcade Fire
Dakota - Stereophonics
Emerge - Fischerspooner
Wrong Way - Sublime
Cuttooth - Radiohead
Let My Love Open the Door - Pete Townshend
Fortune Teller - Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
Up Tight - The Hives
No Cars Go - Arcade Fire
Breakaway - The Detroit Cobras
Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne
Trouble - Coldplay

Then I'm heading out to do some tasty bump repeats on the LFP on this gorgeous, sunny autumn day before coffee with my best friend. That makes me happy and at the moment, that's all I really want and the only thing that matters.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Superweek - The Homewood International Cycling Classic

Homewood is a new Superweek location for 2010. I was especially psyched about this because my hometown, Thornton, is situated immediately east of Homewood. I was able to ride to the race venue from my parents' house 3mi away. The course was excellent - 8 turns, completely flat, running through downtown. Some of the pavement was bumpy but not too bad and there was a nice headwind to deal with on the long backstretch between turns 4 and 5.

We got underway with maybe 30 starters. I didn't count how many of us there were so I could be wrong on that but the field wasn't huge which was nice - it made for much smoother cornering in tight spots. Stacy and I were pretty active early on with a few short stints off the front and some work to bring in a couple of early flyers. A break of 3 managed to get away at some point and build an 18-20sec gap. I was tremendously frustrated that everyone seemed pretty content to just let it go. I and maybe 3 or 4 others worked to bring the gap down to 8sec and then everyone sat up and let it go back out with about 10 laps to go. Negative. Even more negative were the riders who literally tailgunned the entire race and then suddenly appeared in the front with 2 laps to go.

As things started to get twitchy in the last two laps I worked very hard to keep decent position. I lost a bunch in turn 6 but was patient, moved up before the last turn, was able to hit it up the left side and finish 3rd in a close field sprint. Not the way I wanted things to turn out - I really wanted to haul that break back in - but not a bad way to finish a long crit. Unfortunately, Stacy hit the fencing on the last lap and lost some skin. She's going to be okay and she rode like a champ - I love racing with her and she learns more every time. The ride back to Thornton was a little wet but there were Chips Ahoy cookies waiting there for me which made it all okay in the end.

Up next is Evanston next Sunday for sure. Maybe something else before then but who knows - trying to balance work and life right now and with good reason, work and life are winning. And I'm totally okay with that!

Thanks so much for reading. If any photos surface, I'll be sure to post them.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tour de Villas - Bow Wow Wow!!

The brilliant plan for the day involved riding 15mi to Des Plaines, doing two crits (women open and men 50+) then riding home. I'd not slept well the night before and wasn't feeling the love when I rolled out but once I got moving things seemed to open up a little. I connected with my teammate Stacy beforehand for some pre-race planning, got a good warm up and hit the line for the women's race nervous as hell. There were (I think) about 20-25 starters with Alberto's and Project 5 having strong representation with multiple riders. Not sure why but I'm an absolute anxious wreck before small local races. Lots of pressure for no good reason, I guess.

The course was simple enough - one big oval, no turns just curves, a long sprint, lots of bumpy pavement and a face full of headwind on the back stretch. I was tickled to see Channel 7's Paul Meincke doing some color commentary at the start/finish - a celebrity!! I wanted to be patient but just couldn't stand the parade-speed of the group so I attacked early. In fact, Stacy and I attacked and counter attacked repeatedly but weren't able to escape thanks to the wind. I didn't count how many times we tried to break things up but it was absurd mostly because we'd get hauled back in and everyone would sit up, look at each other and go 13mph. Frustrating and negative for sure.

I think I was away for 2 laps or so at one point but with 2 to go it was clear that we were setting up for a field sprint. Stacy did an awesome job of ramping up the speed on the last lap. I was sitting in third position, jumped hard and waaaay early but managed to take the win with Stacy coming across 4th - a great showing for the Bulldogs!! Special thanks to Stacy who kept the pace high at the end - she did it perfectly and still secured a strong finish, nice work!

The men's race was surprisingly not very animated most likely because a lot of the guys were doing multiple races. We rolled with 31 starters - Stacy and I were just planning to do some motor pacing. I executed an early 'glory' attack that got me off the front for a couple laps but that was brought back in just in time for Mark Shay to hit it and spend a fair amount of time alone off the front. Of course when Mark was caught (idiot that I am) I countered and ended up spending probably another 6 laps alone in the wind, dying a slow death and thinking to myself, "how the hell are you going to ride home after this, fool?" Sure enough, I was sucked in with 1/2 a lap to go. I stayed near the front and found a hole which enabled me to punch through for a 4th place finish - I think. I left before final results were posted and it's possible that one of the guys ahead of me was 55+, which would leave me in 3rd. Regardless, I worked very hard and had a lot of fun on a beautiful sunny day. Interestingly, I was stung by a bee during my second solo stint. It was a little swollen and itchy but as I sit here and type my ankle and foot are now freakishly edematous and sort of gross looking...

UPDATE: I did indeed finish 3rd in the men's race. Very cool....

Quote of the Day from Bill Cassidy: "Next time you're alone and coming through the start/finish on the last lap, go faster if you don't want to get caught."

I did ride home and probably ended up getting back faster than I would have if I'd driven there. Shower, lunch and good company for some HD TdF occupied the rest of the afternoon. Big thanks to Project 5 for organizing a great event on short notice - you guys did a super job!

And yes, I am still at the estimate on when that will change.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Eddie. The man speaks to me.

I'm very fortunate in that I get to play 'adult gym class' for a living. The money isn't super great but being able to work part time with cool people and have fun doing it makes up for whatever downside exists. This morning in spin we did some tasty LT/Vo2 work to the playlist below.

Walking in Your Footsteps - The Police
Devil in Me - 22-20s
I'm not Your Man - Doughboys
The Fixer - Pearl Jam
Walk Idiot Walk - The Hives
Where are we Runnin' - Lenny Kravitz
Think I'm in Love - Beck
Let My Love Open the Door - Pete Townshend
12:51 - The Strokes
Low Rider - War
Good Times, Bad Times - Godsmack
Albatross Joe - Cocktail Preachers
This is Your Life - Dust Brothers with Tyler Durdin
Whipping - Pearl Jam
Trouble - Coldplay

Looks like I''l be retiring to the beach again on Friday after finishing at work. It's a good place to spend time and decompress when your head is at the zoo. I finished 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' and have begun 'Lunar Park' by Bret Easton Ellis. He's a very troubled guy but his writing style makes for easy reading. Up next is 'American Psycho.' I may or may not race this weekend. There's a local crit I'm considering that looks like a good opportunity to stretch the legs and lungs a bit with the boys. And I might even do the women's race too.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Apache 40K

This little pig-gay is in the window at an interesting place I ride by most days of the week.
When I asked, they refused to sell him to me.

Is it a good sign when you see windmill farms on the way to a time trial? Hmmmmm.....for those of you who don't venture out past DeKalb very often, there are a lot of windmill farms out there in corn country so it's a pretty safe bet that any time trial you do out that way is gonna be a real windy mother. I was hoping the corn would be sort of 'up' to break things up a bit but a strong WNW kept things interesting the entire 40K out in Paw Paw. Cupcake and I rolled out west after a line of strong thunderstorms passed through on what turned out to be a really hot though very nice sunny (windy) day.

40K time trials are the most challenging for me - I much prefer and do better in 20K and 30Ks. After the debacle that was Champaign, I asked MetLifeGuy WTF I should do to improve my 40K time trialing. His response: do more 40Ks. Thanks for that...though he was exactly right. We don't have many 40K opportunities each season - maybe 4-5 at most - so when one rolls around on the schedule I tend to sit on the fence and get anxious about whether I'll actually do it or not.

The course in Paw Paw is out and back, shaped like the big dipper with some nice rollers on the southernmost stretch and a fair amount of false flat/rolling terrain elsewhere. I felt really strong til the last 10K (no surprise there) and really had to dig to finish well. At about 8K to go I really wanted to just get off my bike and lie down on the side of the road - a good sign that I was riding it the 'right' way. In the end I managed to post my fastest 40K time ever - by a minute - I was very pleased. And yes, it was sub-hour by a substantial amount. Definitely a good day and a good test of fitness as Masters Nationals approaches. I am definitely stronger than I was at this time last season.

I finished 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil' and am nearly done with 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.' A great piece of classic lit and I'm loving it. Not sure what's up next.

I didn't have a lift to Peoria today so I didn't do the state crit. Sigh. Though opting out may have been a good thing in the long run. Looking at the race calendar I'm planning to do some of Superweek and will be spending a lot of training time on the TT bike. I will not be denied this year.

I am indeed still at the zoo but have settled in here and don't plan to leave for a while - so if you think I'm acting strangely, you're probably correct.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

USA Crits Giro d'Grafton

Solo flyer taken at some point when I was feeling good.

I was pretty psyched to head up to Grafton, WI for the USA Crits/Tour of America's Dairyland Giro d'Grafton crit yesterday. Val and I loaded up the truck and hit the road after being able to sleep in! One thing I really like about racing at national caliber events - women P1/2/3 typically race in the afternoon. That's good for me since I normally suck in the morning.

We arrived and were promptly informed that our teammate Stacy had won the W3/4 race earlier in the day - very exciting for our team! There were about 65-70 women lined up for the P1/2/3 event. I'd had a good warm up and was feeling great. I knew that if all went well, I could probably place well. Things were pretty aggressive from the gun with a fair number of primes and point sprints. I even won some USA Crits points. For a while I was away with Kori Seehafer from TT1 but we were reeled in at about the 30min mark of the 60min race. Her teammate countered and managed to stay away, being joined by a Metro-VW rider not long after.

Stacy in the P1/2/3 race. She did a great job and rode smart in a big, strong field.

There were a few bridge attempts and some efforts to reel the break back in but nothing ever got organized enough to make any kind of impact. With about 8 laps to go I had a conversation with a Vera Bradley Foundation rider about chasing things down but they weren't interested and were content to take their chances in a field sprint. At that point my main objective became maintaining position going into the long final sprint. The last turn on the 6-corner course is less than 90 degrees and somewhat off-camber so I knew it was important to be near but not in the front. Things got a bit bunched up coming out of the turn but I didn't panic - I knew that I'd have time and space to make up any ground lost early on.

Val, playing it smart.

As things wound up a hole opened and I went through, straight to the front and moving fast as hell. On the line I was third in the field sprint, fifth overall. I was very pleased with my result - there was a lot of horsepower in the field and a fifth place finish is a strong result. Val had good position in the end but got caught up behind some junk that caused her to roll across 22nd with Stacy a little farther back. In all, a darn fine showing for the Bulldogs! I'm really looking forward to doing more racing with my team - such great girls and excellent racers.

Special thanks to Grafton native John Walker for his fine camera work! Thanks for coming out and cheering for us, John. Always good to see a familiar face in the crowd.

Beyond that, I guess this helps my head get back on track a bit. I'm still at the zoo but at least I'm seeing things that I like. Not sure what the plan is for next weekend. There's a 40K TT and the state championship crit in Peoria. I held the crit title a long time ago and it might be nice to wear the jersey again....

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hearing and Reading

We'll be doing some threshold/hard tempo zigzag stuff in class today. Here's our playlist:

Not an Addict - K's Choice
White Palm - B.R.M.C.
Salvation - The Cranberries
Wong Way - Sublime
Berlin - B.R.M.C.
Burnout - Green Day
Pretty Vegas - INXS
Fire - The Jimi Hendrix Experience
I'm a Believer - Smashmouth
Hang Fire - The Rolling Stones
Beautiful Day - U2
Isn't She Lovely - Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
Don't Change - INXS
Awake - B.R.M.C.

We listened to this yesterday:

Slave to Love - Brian Ferry and Roxy Music
Breaking the Girl - Red Hot Chili Peppers
World Wide Suicide - PJ
Demolition Man - The Police
Backwards Down the Number Line - Phish
Forever Yellow Skies - The Cranberries
Mr. Jones - Counting Crows
Sabotage - Beastie Boys
Morning Glory - Oasis
Trouble - Coldplay (yep, my favorite Coldplay tune...)

I finished reading 'The Pacific' by Hugh Ambrose. Wow. Compelling stuff. That's all I can say. I started 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil' by John Berendt last night. Very good so far.

Not a whole lot to say. Still in a tentative place. As I like to say, 'fuck it - sometimes you have to go to the zoo.' I'm at the zoo. Don't know when I'm coming back or what I'll be like upon re-entry.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bong 1.5 30K TT

Jim and Tom after racing but before a shower. They have nice faces, too.

Admittedly I am having a hard time feeling the love for racing right now. Or really much of anything, to be honest. But I guess grinding things out might be a good way to maybe find some sense of structure and normalcy so yesterday I rolled to Kansasville, WI for the Bong and a Half. We had a decent day weather-wise with some wind in a few places and some damp pavement spots but it was otherwise pleasant. Turnout was good with the usual suspects showing up to have some 'fun.'

I had a solid warm up and ended up posting a personal best time for 30K at the Bong by 20sec and first in the Open women's category so I'm pleased. My power file looked solid, too. It was nice to see a bunch of my teammates and other characters of interest at the TT - sorry I didn't bake this time, guys. I'm always good for some brownies or cookies but I just didn't have the motivation.

Up next it looks like Grafton on Saturday with my teammates, Val and Stacy. It's an NRC race that's part of the USA Crits series and I'm looking forward to it. I did Grafton and finished third a couple years back so I'm confident that I can do well with the heavy hitters who show up. I think we'll have a good time and a strong showing.

Til next time, be safe out there....

Friday, June 11, 2010

What a Week and Some Tunes

Don't know that I can articulate exactly how I feel at the moment. Imagine that - I'm stymied! For the most part, I can express myself freely when it comes to unimportant conversation, but the past week has been difficult. Or maybe it's just that this particular diatribe isn't unimportant. Once in a while stuff happens that, to some degree, can tend to dictate the direction of your future. I think that maybe this past week has proven to be the precursor to a shift of things for me.

I'll say it here, right now, that during this past week I have seriously pondered retiring from the bike at the end of this season. I entertained doing that about three years ago then decided that I wanted to get stronger and still had more to accomplish, so I kept going. Of late, too many of my good friends have been seriously injured on their bikes and I'm having a really hard time wanting to continue exposing myself that risk day in and day out. I still love to train hard and race but the environment within which I ride (the city and north shore) has become incredibly dangerous and hostile. I've always said I'd walk away on my terms - when it's no longer fun and I get nothing positive out of it. Racing and riding is still enormously fun and positive for me, which is why I am so conflicted.

To consider eliminating an activity so central to my very existence is deeply difficult. Racing bikes does not pay the bills, support my lifestyle or make me who I am in this world. Nor will it ever determine the quality or size of the impact I have on the existence of others. That said, I'm not sure what I will do with myself if I decide that I'm finished. Go back to running marathons? I don't know if I can do that. Work more? Maybe a little bit but not much - I start to hate if I work too much. Get a life and meet some men? Terrifying. The prospects aren't so great!

Until I have a more clear idea of what I'm going to do, I have fully committed myself to the goal of winning a jersey at Masters Nationals in 2010. Time trial or criterium - I owe it to myself to throw everything I have into making that a reality. I'll re-evaluate at the end of the season and hopefully a bit of clarity will have come to me by that time. The end of the season will be in December, after 'cross ends. Til then, I will work my ass off (or rest) every single day and when the smoke clears, hopefully I will know what I want to do.

Up next is the Bong and a half TT on Sunday and I am ready! I considered the Sherman Park crit on Saturday but decided against it. I think I may head down to Kankakee for Cobb Park next weekend. I won that race many many years ago and would like to maybe try it again, as it might be my last time :)

Thanks so much for reading. To all my friends out there who are recovering, stay positive and be patient. This will pass and things will get better. You are in my thoughts. And to everyone else, be careful out there. You just never know what's around the next corner.

What my ears are hearing, in no particular order or importance. Just put the ipod on shuffle.

Backward Down the Number Line - Phish
Four Sticks - Led Zeppelin
You've Got to Hide Your Love Away - Eddie Vedder
The Step and the Walk - The Duke Spirit
Get on Your Boots - U2 (God that song kicks ass!)
Mr. Brightside - The Killers
If I Can't Change Your Mind - Sugar
Jerry Was a Racecar Driver - Les Claypool/Primus
Cult of Personality - Living Color
Fade into Me - Mazzy Star
Right Now - Mocean Worker
Cinnamon Girl - Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Can't You Hear Me Knocking - Rolling Stones (might be my favorite 'stones song)
Spring and By Summer Fall - Blonde Redhead

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Spring Prairie, WI Road Race

I haven't done a road race, much less raced with women in a really long time so I was actually a little nervous about racing today in Wisconsin's state road race championship. In fact, I hadn't renewed my USAC license til last night - with my women's team, Bouledogue Tout Noir. In my absence from the women's peloton, a bunch of new, strong riders have arrived on the scene and I am unfamiliar with the present dynamic of things. I do know that I am riding well right now so the plan today was to observe and respond appropriately with my teammate Stacy. The course is one that sorts things out on its own so being more reactive as opposed to proactive was a smart strategy.

I've never done this race before so I made sure to take a lap of the 6.5mi course before start time. It's a big rectangle with some rollers and one steepish hill before the start/finish that pretty much determines how things shake out. We had great weather and some stiff cross/headwind between turns 1 and 2. The P1/2/3 field was only 13 and comprised mostly of Wisconsin riders save a few of us so I was content to watch some friendly smackdown til the field shrunk down to 7 by the end of the third lap. Stacy took a great flyer at one point and was away for about a lap - it was well-timed and properly executed. I did a whole lot of sitting while the chase ensued.

There were small attacks here and there but nothing beyond Stacy's hit really went anywhere which set things up for a field sprint. There were times along the way where this 'race' was more like a freakin' goat rodeo...7mph with women wobbling around and nearly falling over. Sheesh. In fact, at one point, I looked around and asked, 'now ladies, do we really want to go...8?' NOTE TO READER: This is why I race with the men. They just don't tolerate this kind of crap. Of course, once we had a tailwind the speed was more like 35mph. Maybe it's just me, but speed fluctuations like that tend to suck the life out of my legs. Must be my inner time trialist begging for steady, strong, pacemaking.

Per some pre-race coaching from Stacy's studly boy, Chris, I exercised restraint when a hard attack went up the hill and got a gap at the end. He told us, 'they'll blow up and you'll reel them back in before the line.' When the attack went I remembered what Chris said and went up the hill steady, anticipating that I could swing around and go by them on the way to the line as they died...only it didn't come back!! Ugh - I ended up third. That sort of sucked because I felt really strong and surely could have finished better. Ah well, live and learn.

Stacy and I had a blast racing together and I'm looking forward to a lot more of that! Val will also be coming out for some road stuff. We're all excited about our new arrangement which will surely lend a bit of fresh aggressiveness to the local and regional scene.

In other news...I want to send my most deeply heartfelt love and support to one of my very best friends in this world who is going through some serious and difficult shit. I just want you to be whole again and am here for you, whatever you need, anytime and always.

Monday, May 31, 2010

ABD Masters Weekend

The best new chamois cream-evar!!! You should getcha some...

I no longer spend the time, money or effort to go out for the Quad Cities weekend. I have no teammates which means I just get worked over in a women's field - not very positive. Instead, I opt to do the ABD Masters weekend in Wood Dale with my PACT/Dishnetwork teammates. Yeah, the self-proclaimed 'old guys.' The same ones that beat my ass over and over - which makes for fun, positive, hard racing. In addition to some daily payout there's an omnium so it's to one's advantage to work hard and finish well every day. As a team we had a great showing each day with Jim, Andy, Ziggy, Victor, Richard, Tommy, and Mike coming out for at least some if not all of the weekend. To provide every detail of each day would make for a really long post, so I'll do some summarizing, in the interest of keeping it brief.

Day 1: The break got away with PACT representation (Mike) with about 10min and 3 laps to go. Things had been pretty fast to that point. The field sprint developed nicely as Mack led things out into the final two turns. I felt good about my chances in the sprint, sitting fourth wheel when Don Lowe rolled his rear tubular in front of me. I had about a tenth of a second to make a choice: run him over or lean left and hope he sticks to the road. Fortunately for me, he stuck to the road and I finished 8th on the day. Mike ended up 3rd so our work to contain things paid off with a strong finish. I know Don went and had some things sewn back together and he's got to be pretty sore. Don, I'm so sorry you went down - feel better soon. I rode in the back of the 40+race after the 50+ ended and finished safely with the field. Tired legs!

Day 2: It seemed like today was even harder than yesterday and I wasn't really feeling the love. Things were very animated and the usual suspects were killing each other til the break finally escaped, again with maybe 10min and 3 laps to go. We had Mike up there so our work was done. After they were away, nothing much happened in the field except a lot of slow so the break caught us with a few laps to go. Everything got crazy and fast going into the final sprint but I managed to finish well enough to take 7th on the day. Mike did a good job too - taking 4th out of the break. I didn't do the 40+ which was a wise choice given that I felt like ass.

Day 3: Probably the best course of the weekend - a 1.6mi circuit that combines the Saturday and Sunday courses into one loop with a short rise before the final turn. We had three riders (Mike, Richard and me) in good position in the overall so getting strong finishes for all of us was important. I tried an early attack that was covered by two others and we stayed away for a little while but Mike put in the attack that successfully got him away for the remainder of the race. Tom Doughty bridged to him and we put the brakes on anything that twitched in the field. In the end, I was hosed in the sprint by a couple guys nearly bouncing off each other before the last turn so my finish pretty much sucked. It was all okay, though, because Mike took 2nd on the day and secured 3rd overall for himself. Richard's finish helped him to a 6th place overall and I managed to earn enough points for 7th overall.

I'm mostly pleased with how my weekend went. I would've liked to make the break the first and second days but both times I was boxed in on the wrong side of the road when things got hot. Big picture tells me to just be content and look to what's next. Racing with guys like Tom Doughty, Mike, Jim Host, Wayne Simon, Brent Emery, Andy Kerr, Bob Downs, Fabio Orlandi and the Mack boys makes me stronger, faster and smarter. Thank you for killing me, tools - you guys ROCK.

Also, many thanks to ABD and ABR for all they do to make this a great weekend of racing - all of the racers truly appreciate your efforts!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Yep....there it is....

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Barstow 20K - A New Course Record!

Barstow is one of my favorite 20Ks - completely flat, straight out and back along the Rock River which makes for a fast, fun ride. It's a long, boring drive over to the Quad Cities area but totally worth it - I love the course. I set a new course record last season and this year I really wanted to go faster so admittedly I felt a little self-imposed pressure to perform.

We were fortunate to have great weather on Sunday - it was sunny and warm with a strong cross/cross-headwind. I wasn't feeling so hot after a night of not great sleep and sort of tired legs so the sensations during warm-up weren't providing me with much confidence. That, and I wasn't seeing great numbers on the SRM so I resigned myself to just watching the speedo and going by feel. At certain points along the way in my first ride (I did two) I felt awful and wanted to just get off my bike and lie down. At other times I felt strong while seeing the speedo pegged at +27mph. In the end, the clock stopped nearly a minute faster than last season - a new course record, fastest women's time and a personal best 20K performance for me. Turns out I hadn't zeroed the offset on the SRM so the power numbers I got were crap. Big picture: who cares?

My second ride was cake - I rolled it in comfort for the fourth best time in the 50+ men's field. It was a good day for me. Wakes came out and tore things up a bit as well, taking 1st in the cat 4 field - nice job Mike! Ziggy, Richard and Mark made the drive and posted fast times as well. MetLifeGuy won the 50+ and (I believe) also the P1/2 with the second fastest time on the day. In fact, it was his fastest 20K ever - well done, Mike!

Up next - a couple of crits with the guys over Memorial Day weekend and some state TT course recon. I'm lacking top end lately due to all the TT's so it'll be 'nice' to get some lung searing, sick-hard efforts in my legs. I won't be heading back out to the Quad Cities area, opting instead to stay near home. I've done the QC weekend so many times it just really doesn't hold much excitement for me anymore.

As for my team situation, look for a separate post detailing my new gig...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cham Pain 40K TT Recap

Snot, drool, a bit of everything.

I don't have much to say about last weekend's 40K TT in Champaign. I'd originally registered to do 2 rides but pissing rain, cold temps and the mother of all headwinds beat me down and made me declare, 'uncle!' after my first (not very good) ride. Down South, the corn is not up yet so as nice as the 25+mph tailwind was on the way out, it was a killer on the way back.

That said, I loved the decidedly unscenic course and think it would be great to try again when the corn is up. Straight out and back with a couple doglegs through two small towns, pristine smooth pavement and minimal traffic. State championship caliber for sure. Thanks to Wild Card Cycling of downstate Champaign for hosting and promoting the race.

The event wasn't very well attended but I still somehow managed to have the fastest women's time on the day, though I was far from proud of it. The PACT guys were also out - Ziggy, Mike, Mark, Richard and Bob all ended up with strong showings and some of the fastest times on the day. You guys are awesome! Wakes came down with little sleep and had a good ride as well - nice job, Mike!

Up next, two 20K TT's in Barstow, IL. I hope to improve upon the new course record I set there last season. Beyond that, some crit racing and a new women's squad - all good stuff!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Minor Newsflash...

More to come but the short story is that I will finally be renewing my USAC license - with a new team. I will continue to race ABR events with PACT/Dish but will be racing USAC stuff with a small, very talented women's squad. Details will be forthcoming as things evolve...

Monday, May 10, 2010

A No Race Weekend and Some Tunes

Gandalf, killing his ratty stuffed animal thing.

This past weekend saw me do no racing. Bummer in a way but probably not an all-bad thing. I was hoping to do the 2-person 40K on Saturday but plans fell through and I ended up on a group ride that left something (a lot...) to be desired. Sunday was nicer weather-wise which made for a longer, better ride on the new bike.

Here's the playlist for today's lunch hour spin class - after warm-up we'll be doing some tempo/threshold zig-zag stuff.

Bad - U2
The Day I Tried to Live - Soundgarden
Lay Down Your Weapons - Scissors for Lefty
The Fixer - Pearl Jam
Far Behind - Social Distortion
Strange Times - The Black Keys
Spring and By Summer Fall - Blonde Redhead
Lounge Act - Nirvana
Runnin' Wild - Airborne
Salute Your Solution - The Raconteurs
Devour - Shinedown
Little Wing - Jimi Hendrix

I'm reading 'Frankenstein' by Mary Shelly and will next start 'The Pacific' by Hugh Ambrose. I caught the HBO series a couple of times and was intrigued, so I figured the book might be interesting. I'm not any kind of war/history junkie but it's a good story. After that, 'Tell All' by Chuck Palahniuk (one of my favorites).

Up next race-wise, maybe Monsters and a 40K near Champaign. I had a weak moment and signed up for 2 40K's. Stupid, stupid, stupid.....

Friday, May 7, 2010

That New Bike Smell

The new B bike - white saddle is on order.

In my small world, there are few things in life more excellent than a new bike - even if it's 'only' a new B bike. I brought it home this afternoon and am psyched about taking it out on it's first ride tomorrow, that being the famed Judson ride. I scored the frameset from Vince at Village Cycle Sport in Elk Grove - thanks Vince! And special thanks to Alex at Roscoe Village Bikes for doing a great job on the build.

My racing bike is old and tired but the expense of a new #1 is out of the question. I'll be logging a lot of training miles on this one - usually 350-400mi a week. It's built with some of my used parts, a fine vintage Syncros post from MetLifeGuy and some new Rival drivetrain pieces. Training wheels (with Power Tap) are compliments of PSIMET. (thank-you, Rob!!) Including pedals, it weighs in at a hair over 17lb. I think that's pretty good for a #2 bike - so exciting!!

The Cannondale has not been retired - it's status has been changed to 'rain and decent winter weather' bike. SKS race blade fenders at all times and of course, a set of old though still functional DT Swiss wheels - with Power Tap.

It's not real blingy - and it's not meant to be. It's going to see lots of hard miles and probably a few crashes in it's lifetime - it will owe me nothing when it's retirement day arrives.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Twice the Thrill in Kenosha AND-A Retirement...

Mike, Dan and Ziggy eating post-race cookies.

We had a great day for racing in Kenosha - mostly sunny, a little wind and decent temps. Fields weren't too big due to the simultaneously held Vernon Hills GP. In 50+ and 40+ masters we had probably around 15-20 riders respectively with a strong showing for PACT/Dish Network. First up was the 50+ and how things would end up was determined about two laps in. On the first and early in the second lap I made a couple small attacks and one somehow actually stuck. Mike bridged up from the group and we were away for the remainder of the 40minutes. We had Richard and Ziggy sitting back in the group disrupting as much as possible. In the end I decided to not contest the sprint for a few reasons:

1 - He towed my ass through the headwind section every lap (except the final lap, thanks for that!).
2 - He gets more TOI/WI and ROTY points for the victory in a series that I don't contend.
3 - He's retiring the six13 and what better way to do that than with a win?

Next up was the 40+. I think we had 6 PACT riders on the line so we basically dominated the race. Dan took off a few laps in, Mike bridged and we basically sat on and disrupted every chase attempt. I flatted with about 15min to go, got a wheel from the pit and was back in on the next lap. When things wound up for the field sprint, my head was somewhere else entirely so I ended up 4th. In retrospect I wish I would have gone with Mike - the 'racing' back in the group was really negative and I felt bad about sitting on so much. I guess that's just how racing goes when your teammates are off the front and it's your job to help keep it that way. In the end, Dan outsprinted a very tired Mike for the win. It was a great team effort all around.

Not sure what's up next - maybe the 2 person 40K next weekend. Or, a non-race weekend. That remains to be seen.

My new B bike should be ready by the end of the week - I'll be sure to post some pics once it's finished. It's nothing fancy but that's the point of a B bike, right?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Two Hits on the Bong

It was an early get-up this morning for the Single Bong 20K TT in Wisco and the weather was looking iffy. We'd had rain all night and the forecast was for more of the same. After training in the rain so much it really doesn't bother me to race in it anymore so I was ready for anything. We sort of lucked out, I think. The pavement was wet, there was no precip but there definitely was wind. There appeared to be a fair number of no-shows and given the weather, I was not surprised.

I like the Bong course - a mostly flat to rolling 20K circuit with three right turns. I'd registered to do two rides and while I briefly pondered only doing one, I took a big bite of HTFU after my first ride and lined up for number two. It seemed that the wind was a little stronger the second time but the pavement was drying out so my feet were just cold, not cold and wet. Turned out that I had the first and second fastest times on the day for women and improved upon my previous personal best time by about 30sec. I'll take it. It was a good day for me and while I wasn't feeling so super, I am definitely pleased. It was my first race with the SRM and I love it!

PACT/DishNetwork was well represented and scored some excellent results today - nice job, guys. Bob, Ziggy, Krystian, Dan, Richard and Mike - you boys are the best! I also have to send a shout out to Peter who had a fine performance today - well done.

Some exciting news - I am building a new 'B' (bitch) bike! I scored a sweet aluminum/carbon Blue frameset and while I briefly thought about stripping the Cannondale to build it, I changed my mind. The new ride will be almost entirely new and will become my primary training bike. I really love my RC-7 but it is getting tired (30,000+ miles on it) so it'll be used mainly for racing and only in good weather. I'll post pictures after Alex finishes building it at Roscoe Village Bikes.

Up next, probably a crit next weekend. Best of luck to Wakes who's playing in the dirt next weekend. Beyond that - Blackhawks, Sox and Cubs, oh my!!! Keep winning, boys!

And!! Congrats (?) to my 5 year old niece Elise who lost her first tooth the other day!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cherry Valley 30K TT

PACT Power Tools l to r: (interloper) Bob Beck, Ziggy, Mark, Richard, Dan, Bob and Mike

I saw no reason to do the Leland Kermesse yesterday. Riding/racing on a course that includes 6mi of gravel roads in a small, unanimated women's field isn't a fun way for me to spend a weekend day. Don't worry Illinois women, I will be coming out to play soon enough. I have some time trials to do first.

Not sure whether I like or dislike the roughly 30K course at Cherry Valley. It's curvy, rolls a bit and is always windy. I like the first part for sure but the second part is decidedly unscenic as it passes through a wide open, windblown stretch of fields until the corn is up. A set of railroad tracks is a nice bonus feature provided that you don't pinch flat - it's not a very smooth crossing. Seemed to me that we had a cross-tailwind out and cross-headwind back today, so really not a whole lot of relief to be found.

I was feeling decent today during warm up and ended up riding my fastest time ever on the course by nearly a half minute, though it wasn't as fast as I would have liked. I paced my effort just about perfectly with the stretch back being about 20sec faster than the way out. It turned out to be the fastest women's time on the day - hard not to be pleased with that! My SRM still hasn't returned from battery service so I was using a less than optimal aero setup though it wasn't terrible. Hopefully it will be back this week and I'll be able to run both tri-spoke wheels at the Single Bong next weekend.

My PACT/DishNetwork teammates nailed down fast times in the 60+, 55+, 50+, 40+, cat 3 and P1/2 categories today. I don't recall everyone's results but Bob won the 60+, Mike ended up winning the 50+, took 3rd in the P1/2 and had the second fastest men's time on the day. Mark, Mariusz, Jim, Dan and Richard were also at or near the top of their categories. Way to go guys, you rock!! I also have to send out congrats to Peter who did his first TT today completely 'naked' - no aero equipment. In fact, he did TWO!! Nice job Peter!

Beyond that, I'm finishing 'The Bullpen Gospels,' managed to read 'Anthem' by Ayn Rand last week and up next is the classic 'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Bronte. I read it in high school but my level of comprehension back then was admittedly lacking. After that I'm thinking it's time for some Chuck Palahniuk (he has a new book out!) or maybe 'Frankenstein' by Mary Shelley.

As always, thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 15, 2010



I felt like doing some old-school classic rock for today's playlist and this is what I came up with. After warm up we'll be doing this loop twice: 2X2min Vo2 (hill efforts) on 2min rest then a 5min LT with 3min rest between loops.

Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones
Smoke on the Water - Deep Purple
Paranoid - Black Sabbath
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap - AC/DC
LaGrange - ZZ Top
White Room - Cream
You Really Got Me - Van Halen
I Can See for Miles - The Who
Heartbreaker - Led Zeppelin
Fire Woman - The Cult
Angel - Jimi Hendrix

I really wanted to include 'Whipping Post' by The Allman Brothers but I don't have a quality digital copy that does that song any justice. It's one of the most ass-kicking classic rock tunes ever, in my estimation anyway.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Game On!!

The outdoor TT season has officially begun with today's John Frasier Memorial TT. My goals for today were pretty manageable - finish top 3, have two good rides and most importantly, have fun. Weather in Maple Park was decent this morning - temps warmed up nicely and the sun came out while the wind blew like a mother. Headwind out, tailwind back made for a tedious grind on the way out but allowed for some big speed on the return trip.

I was feeling good during warm up and ended up having a strong first ride. Good enough to take the Women Open category and the fastest women's time on the day. My second ride was just cake - another interval, really. That time was third fastest so I guess I had a pretty good day. In fact, it was a great day for all of PACT/Dish Network - lots of solid placings in all categories - well done, boys! That would be: Mike, Jim, Andy, Ziggy, Mariusz, Krystian, Richard, Dan, Mark, Bob and Marian. Extra special congratulations go out to Mike who clinched the 50+ overall indoor series title and took 2nd in the P1/2. Mark, Krystian, Dan, and Richard also placed well in their respective categories overall. You guys are the best!

It felt great to get out and rip the legs and sear the lungs a bit but I think the best part was catching up with friends I've not seen for a few months, especially Wakes and Preston. I need to send a shout out to Bill (cupcake) who did his first ever TT - and loved it! Great job!

Up next is a 30K TT in Cherry Valley. Undecided as to whether I will do one or two that day - though I'm leaning toward just one. After that is the legendary Single Bong. I plan to do a 'double' Single Bong that weekend. Hopefully my SRM will be back from battery service by then and I'll be able to use a full aero setup.

Other than that, I'm reading 'Anthem' by Ayn Rand and 'The Bullpen Gospels' by Dirk Hayhurst. All good so far!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

More Random Ponderances (is that a word?)

Every once in a while I just have to post a list of random thoughts, observations and other things I ponder in hopes that someone will respond to any of those that resemble a question with an intelligent answer. Are you ready? Here goes!!

* Why is it that the category 3 men seem to be crashing all the time of late? I get wind of all the race wreck craziness and feel fortunate that I opt to race instead with the masters boys.

* Have you seen the dude dressed as the Statue of Liberty promoting a nearby tax service on Ashland? I'm talking about the guy with a full beard who's wearing a turban at the same time. Indeed.

* I missed the boat when reality TV was born. Seriously, why does anyone watch that crap?

*Call me picky (or maybe a masters degreed elitist) but seeing repeated misuse of the apostrophe and improper grammar to indicate plurality drives me apeshit.

* It fascinates me how otherwise intelligent, good-hearted friends of mine can become so terribly ugly as soon as they open their mouth and talk politics. FYI, the sky didn't fall and the seas didn't boil when the healthcare bill was passed. If you really lived up to your so-called values about loving thy brother, you'd shut your trap and see the importance of it all. What every happened to all that good will your 'god' expects you to exhibit toward your fellow man? All I see is bitterness, selfishness and especially, ignorance - deliberate ignorance in many cases.

* From my friend Anne: If 4 out of 5 people suffer from diarrhea, does that mean one enjoys it? If you have an answer, let me know and I'll pass it along.

*When you're on your bike and your ass hurts, nothing else matters.

* Attention runners and triathletes: Armwarmers are meant to be worn with a short sleeved jersey, not a sleeveless tank top or singlet. You've taken our accessory and bastardized it. Even renamed it the 'running sleeve.' Please, cease and desist. You look like an idiot.

* And furthermore, stop stop STOP wearing the knee high black compression socks. Again, you look like an idiot.

* While I'm still on the accessory subject: legwarmers....any color other than black or maybe blue is just wrong. Saw some big dude sportin' white the other night - not pretty. I won't mention patterned legwarmers (like jungle or flower motif - yikes!).

* Riding in 30mph crosswinds sucks. Period. Anyone care to argue that point?

* There are things in this world I will never understand. There are people in this world whose motivations, thoughts and actions will always escape me. While this may frustrate me from time to time it's clear that I will just never 'get' certain things/people. Carry on.

* Road construction 'furniture' doesn't ever make it's way to any so-called place for storage. It's merely moved from site to site as projects are finished and new ones are begun.

* What ever happened to the movement dedicated to removing the penny from circulation? Just wondering. I thought it was a dumb idea anyway.

* Easter = candy for breakfast. For days.

* Life is indeed too short to be unhappy but every once it a while it's almost therapeutic to be sad for a little bit. It gives you perspective you might otherwise not have if you're always happy. Just sayin.'

I suppose that's enough for now. In other errata, I'm still reading 'The Fountainhead,' it's a long book but really very good. Up next is something called 'The Bullpen Gospels' by Dirk Hayhurst (of Toronto Blue Jays fame). While it's been called one of the best baseball books ever, apparently it's also just a really good book so I'm sort of excited to start it.

Up next racing-wise is a short time trial next weekend. No, I will not be at Hillsboro the following week - got that ladies? One less wheel to watch for/suck.

Til next time....

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kenosha Velosport Training Crit #3

Why did I forego racing the two USAC crits this weekend? The first 'big' races of the ICA Cup? Lots of reasons but mainly because I have no desire to race a bike on a course designed for auto racing. That would mean it's just like a big track race, untechnical and probably pretty boring. Couple that with small, unanimated women's fields, tasty headwinds and the high probability of negative racing, I opted instead to do the third and final Kenosha Velosport Crit with the masters men. Good choice.

Weather was typical for late March in Wisco - chilly, windy, mostly cloudy with the sun trying really hard to poke through. I was again held out of the 50+ masters race (until such time that the rule is changed) while Mike, Ziggy, Victor and Richard raced. Mike was off the front early and ended up lapping the field and winning by a ton. Not sure of final places for the other guys - I believe Richard took the 55+ sprint - nicely done, boys!

I was feeling good in warm up and we had a large contingent representing for PACT/DishNetwork in the 40+ masters race - me, Dan, Mark, Mike, Victor, Richard and I think maybe Ziggy did the 40+ as well. I'm not certain how many starters there were on the line - maybe 20? Fabio and Brent Emery were on the line as well - very strong guys that need to be watched. Things rolled off nicely enough but nothing was very animated so I threw out a couple of weak little attacks to see if anyone would bite. After about the third or fourth hit, we had a break of maybe 8 guys with me, Dan, Mike, Richard, Mark and a couple others including Fabio and Brent. I again hit it (though not really hard) and found myself with Dan, dangling precariously off the front.

We worked together for a bit and were joined by Fabio and apparently another rider from the original break - and it seemed to be sticking so we continued to rotate and keep a safe distance. I'm sure that Mike, Mark and Richard were helping us back there, controlling stuff. At some point we lost our hanger-on and were about to lap the field. There was a decision to be made - do we stay behind or attempt to pass? My feeling was that I didn't want to be caught from behind so with 3 to go, we opted to go around the field. I really wasn't in a position to sprint against the likes of Fabio and Dan - I pretty much let them go to fight it out between themselves and rolled in a bit behind, taking 3rd. Mark ended up 4th and Mike 5th - a really strong showing for the Dish today!

It was great to race with the guys today and hang out a little while post-race, eating brownies and drinking some kind of cherry-flavored alcoholic concoction that Victor surely ferments/distills in his bathtub. For the record, not a good idea for me to be drinking any kind of alcohol after a race.

I started reading 'The Fountainhead' by Ayn Rand and am loving it - again, amazing stuff. The best way I can describe it is that it's as if every sentence is 'crafted' and the entire book is intricately 'connected.' Maybe you have to read it to understand.

Not sure what's up next - I have to take a look at the schedule. Maybe a time trial? Dunno - we'll see! Right now I'm feeling pretty good and the plan is to continue to train hard, rest and get stronger as we get into the race season proper. If any pictures surface from today, I'll be sure to post them.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Slapped by the Big Hand of Johnny Law

Wonderful afternoon killed at the Cook County Courthouse yesterday. The short story is we were found 'guilty' of 'willfully disobeying a crossing guard' on our bikes a few weeks ago. Nevermind that the Glencoe cop (name: Peterson) lied MULTIPLE TIMES while under oath about the happenings that day, and nevermind that we truly did not 'willfully disobey' her. The judge was immune to the lying and felt that we should have actually gone back and apologized to the crossing guard/cop when we realized that we'd honestly missed her presence. Seriously. The big black hand of Johnny Law bitchslapped us with a $195 fine and four months of supervision for our transgression.

The big beef for me here is the whole dishonesty thing - lie to me, lie about me - enormous no-no. That might be the quickest way to win yourself my disrespect. That, and making me look bad. Another huge no-no. Last but not least, don't mess with my money. Officer Peterson did all three things and for that she's achieved my eternal damnation. Hopefully Karma will come back soon to bite her in her sizable ass.

This blog post is as far as it will go, as spending any more time and energy on these pathetic happenings serves only to piss me off and deepen my mistrust and distaste for all things 'cop.' Sure, there are good, honest, hardworking police officers out there - it is a difficult job that I could never do. But seeing people in court yesterday who were inconvenienced and made to appear over things like a non-working tail light is insane. Is this truly what North Shore police officers are looking for? Cracking cyclists skulls? Pulling over teenagers with too many passengers? Writing citations for faulty headlights? Come on... As N.W.A. said it best, "F*** tha Police!'

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kenosha Velosport Training Crit #2

After a day of snow, rain and freezing coldness that saw me stay indoors pretty much all of Saturday, we rolled once again to Wisconsin for some early spring crit fun. It was snow/sleet/raining in Chicago but as we traveled north things dried out and racing was 'on,' nevermind the snow on the course. I was pretty tired after a hard week of training and a minor bug of sorts that made for some not-so-super moments during the week. That said, I wasn't feeling terrible and was decidedly optimistic about my chances for doing well. Again there was a killer headwind on the back stretch that made for quite a grind at times, just like last week.

Unfortunately I was told that a rule governing women participating in masters men's races is now going to be enforced so I was locked out of doing the 50+ race. Bummer too, Pink and Mike got away and took 1-2 at the end. Impressive performance, guys! I sat around and froze my ass for a while then jumped in with the 40+ guys. The first 30min or so was frustrating - every time someone attacked, three guys from a certain team would chase it down then sit on it, no counter, nothing. It was like racing with the women's field - ride around and wait for the sprint - negative and no fun. Finally with probably about 15-20min to go, Wayne attacked up the left on the tailwind section and got a sizable gap going into the first turn.

I was stuck on the right behind a bunch of guys who rode the brakes through the turn letting gaps open up, effectively preventing me from doing anything to bridge. That was the race, right there. I watched as five other guys jumped up the left side and made it across, while I sat there boxed in and helplessly screwed. Fortunately three of the guys in the break were Dan, Mark and Mike - all smart, strong and very competent racers. In the end Mark took the win with Dan and Mike 3rd and 4th. I ended up 7th with Richard taking 10th. Again, a strong showing for the Dish - well done, boys! I was sort of bummed - I really want to be doing 2 races at this point in the season so hopefully something with the rule can change in the near future.

Next up I suppose is the final Kenosha crit. I know there are two other options next weekend but I'm not really into the idea of doing crits on auto racing courses - boooooring and un-technical = no good for me. After that, maybe some time trials. I'm stoked about the SRM I acquired during the offseason (thanks Guz!!) that's now on my TT bike which will help with motivation, to some degree.

I just finished 'Death of a Salesman' but I haven't decided what's next. I've not visited a bookstore (in the traditional sense) for a few months. There's something to be said for browsing on the nook, selecting and dowloading a book in 20 seconds while lying in bed. Makes me giggle every time - so very cool.

Beyond that, it seems like spring is sort of here. Stepping out the door last week in short sleeves and shorts I saw the neighbors playing catch. My thought, 'I would love to do that!' For those of you who aren't aware, I was a pretty decent ballplayer before discovering the bike. So, any time someone wants to swing by and play some catch, let me know! Softball, baseball, football - whatever, so long as you don't throw like a girl :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kenosha Velosport Training Crit #1

Mike with Don Lowe in tow.

Just so it's clear, I do not pay to do indoor time trials on someone else's computrainer. I know the Midwest 'season' has already somewhat officially kicked off with the ABD and VQ indoor TT's but no, I will not be making a cameo appearance any time soon. The closest I'll get to that is showing up to meet my date(s) for lunch after they race and I've already ridden outdoors for at least 80mi.

Now, on to what matters. I headed North of the cheddar curtain for the first Kenosha Velosport training criterium on Sunday. Weather was pretty sucky (40ish with a 20mph headwind on the back stretch) but it sure beats the rain we rode in on Saturday. I raced with the 50+ and 40+ masters men's fields. They don't really like it when I beat them. But the women don't really like it when I race with them either, so to clear the air on the subject, I race where I will be challenged and where I have a teammate that I spend a lot of time training with. That helps a ton - we know each other's abilities well and can key off each other very nicely to take control of a race and make things happen.

In the 50+ race I covered an early attack by Jeff the Planet Bike guy and we managed to open a sizable gap. We stayed away for a long time but were eventually caught by a group of 4 that included another Planet Bike guy (Bob, owner of Planet Bike) and my teammate Mike along with Don from Mack and a hanger-on. A lap or two later I took a pull on the windy backstretch and moved over right for someone to take over - no one did and Mike attacked up the left. It was perfectly timed and only Bob was able to grab his wheel. I yelled for him to go while most of us (except for one lazy, self-proclaimed 'sprinter') settled in and worked together for a few laps before the bell was rung to indicate one to go. I attacked hard coming out of the headwind section, got a sizable gap and carried it to the line. Mike and Bob had just finished ahead of me after a bit of cat-and-mouse with Bob taking the sprint.

I wasn't loving the feel for the 40+ race but we rolled out soon after the 50+ race finished. Things broke up pretty quickly when Mike attacked and took 4 guys with him. In retrospect, I should have gone with that move but it was too late to do anything when I realized it wasn't coming back. It turned out that that group broke up further with 2 guys distancing themselves later on. When it was clear that they were away the pack slowed down to like 12mph on the backstretch. It was ridiculous. So I decided to just roll off the front and was surprised to see that I had a gap. Within a lap I was joined by my teammate Dan and Brent Emery. Yes, that Brent Emery - former US Olympian Brent Emery!! We worked together for a while and then my legs started to get pretty sucky. The guys were so nice - they let me basically sit on for the remainder of the race. Dan caught a fast wheel coming by from the break (the eventual winner) so Brent and I just rode hard to turn 3 when he accelerated away and I ended up finishing 8th. Mike took 5th, Dan was 6th. Not a bad day for PACT!

The racing was fun and I had a great time hanging out with the boys afterward. I was introduced to Culver's and ate the nastiest hamburger and fries - I was starving and almost didn't even taste it. Can't wait to do it all again next weekend (maybe....).

A shout has to go out to Scott Knoepke of PSIMET Racing. Scott got wrecked in the 3s race and is pretty sore - hang in there Scott!

Since finishing 'Atlas Shrugged' I've read 'The Turn of the Screw' by Henry James, 'Shutter Island' by Dennis Lehane and am almost done with 'Flawless' by Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell. Fascinating true crime stuff.

Andy Kerr!! Are you out there????

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Le Suck

For lots of reasons, I really do not like law enforcement. Imagine my contempt at being dragged down from behind on the North Shore yesterday for - wait for it - disobeying a crossing guard. WTF? The verrrrrry short story is that supposedly I and my riding companion willfully disobeyed a crossing guard and were subsequently made to wait an hour (yes, an hour - my power file proves it) in the freezing coldness while Glencoe five-oh wrote out violations. An hour. A freaking hour. We were never asked what happened nor were we offered a warm place to wait, like the back seat of the SUV that sat there idling for the duration.

The real kicker with me is that I was never asked what happened - did you see the crossing guard? No, there was a car in front of us obstructing my view not to mention that I was sitting behind 6'3" of fine humanity that was in the way as well. There were no signs in the street indicating that it was a school zone. The crossing guard was not wearing or holding any sort of bright green, yellow or orange indicator of any sort. There was no traffic control at the intersection - no stop sign, no traffic light, nothing. We were passing a car that was sitting in the right lane, going nowhere. Only after going around the car did I even see the crossing guard as she was stepping off the curb - there were no kids in the street, she used no audio or visual indication that I was to stop til she screamed, 'what's the matter with you?' How about, 'I didn't see you at 30mph and couldn't stop in ten feet or less.' Yes, there was a killer tailwind, we were doing an interval and again, there's a power file to prove it.

My big beef is that I was never treated fairly and never given the opportunity to explain that I was powerless to stop - it was an honest mistake. Had I seen her, I would have stopped - no doubt. I know that cyclists get a bad rap for behaving badly on the North Shore but in this instance we weren't willfully being disobedient. We got lumped in with the prevailing shit attitude on the North Shore about people on bikes. They wasted an hour of my time and will now waste even more of my time when I go to court where I will hopefully be given a chance to defend myself and be listened to - fairly.

So to blow off a little steam here's a happy happy playlist:

Everything in It's Right Place - Radiohead
The Day I Tried to Live - Soundgarden
Passive - A Perfect Circle
Burn - Nine Inch Nails
Cryin' Like a Bitch! - Godsmack
Don't You - Candlebox
Drift & Die - Puddle of Mudd
Rise or Fall - BRMC
Famous - Puddle of Mudd
Firestarter - The Prodigy
Landslide - Smashing Pumpkins

I finished all 4001 e-pages of 'Atlas Shrugged' this morning. Might be my most favorite book of all time. 'Shutter Island' by Dennis Lehane starts tonight - have to read it before seeing the movie.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Not. Gonna. Happen.

More and more every day I find myself lusting for a new bike. I've been on the same (very nice) SRAM equipped Blue RC-7 for 3 years and well, it's tired and I'm ready for something new. It's totally great having a wheel sponsor but I'd really really really - really - like a new frameset and gruppo. Of course I've spent some time drooling over all the fine looking bling in the various online and print publications and after careful consideration I think I want another Blue. Their bikes fit me well, handle nicely, are decent looking and afford an owner good value - if you actually have any money to make a purchase, which I do not because well, this economy sucks. Then again, I'd ride most anything right now if the price were right!

A consequence of no longer being part of a formal supported team situation is that 'at cost' and below retail pricing (or free - I remember those days too) is just not an option for me. So much of my race budget is earmarked for travel and race entry expense that I simply can't justify paying full price for a new bike. Not to mention that it seems the price of new bikes has EXPLODED of late. The level of equipment I demand seems to begin in the $5000 range for a complete bike. Not to mention that framesets start around $3000. That is insane!!! I don't need a complete bike - just a frameset and gruppo. I can come up with the rest, somehow.

So I'm open to fundraising suggestions. Calendars? Candy bars? Establish my own charity (of which I am the sole benefactor)? Beg and shake an empty cup on the Jackson Blvd. bridge every morning? Suck it up and save my loose change for ten years? Shovel snow? Mow lawns? Dog walking? Car wash? Or better yet, bike wash? I already work enough so that's not going to change.

As much as I like being a solo act, it does have it's bad points. I've manged to secure some individual sponsorship for a few things but a new bike still evades me. Missing out on some of the perks I had back in the day is sort of a bummer and my middle child tendencies hold me back when it comes to asking for anything. Sigh.

What I've been reading on my nook (Coolest. Toy. Evar.): 'Bram Stoker's Dracula' which was surprisingly great! I'm about 1/3 through 'Atlas Shrugged' by Ayn Rand and loving it. Up next is 'Shutter Island' by Dennis Lehane - it seemed like a wise choice to read something mindless after I finish the very heavy and long 'Atlas.'

Other than that, still grinding it out every day in the freezing coldness. My goal was to keep the total number of indoor training days to 10 or less and I'm happy to report that it stands at 3 right now. Daylight savings starts in less than 4 weeks so I'm pretty sure I'll make it. Aside from that 8 inches of snow we got hammered with last week (which has since melted a lot) we've had a decent winter here, as far as Chicago winter goes. Still getting 18-22hr of saddle time in every week, sometimes more. I'm pleased with that!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Photo from Rob at PSIMET - my custom training wheelset is ready!!

No real rhyme or reason to this post so I decided it'd be one of my famous bullet point random observation lists with today's spin playlist at the end. One cool piece of info, my custom PSIMET training wheelset is built and ready to go so that has me psyched. My race wheels are being built and I can't wait to get them.

* This Groundhog Day thing is crap unless you make a movie of it, which somehow legitimizes it.
* Chicago drivers suck and they especially suck when there's precip of any sort.
* We've had a mild winter so far. I really hope it stays this way. Maybe I should shut up.
* I can handle cold temps with small precip totals - keeps me outside and staves off trainer hate.
* I still haven't renewed my USAC license. Not sure what that means yet.
* I may need to run another marathon before I turn 40 in a couple years. There. I said it.
* I have an incredibly diverse, supportive network of friends and family. I am thankful for that.
* The NFL Pro Bowl is ridiculous in every way.
* I've been a Blackhawks fan for +15 years and it's awesome to have them playing so well.
* People who anonymously criticize on the web are lame. Own up to your opinions if you feel moved enough to say something. Just sayin'.
* I miss eating stuff like ice cream, pizza, pastries, burgers and fries, etc during the off-season. But I don't miss the hugeness of my ass that is a consequence of eating said items during the off-season.
* Animals and little kids should never have to experience pain, illness or hunger. Even the little bastard ones.
* It's no one's job to make me happy - I alone am responsible for my happiness in this world.
* You should use the little plastic cap thingys on your valve stems in the winter. That way the presta valve top won't break off in your hand from salt corrosion when you go to inflate. Indeed.
* As much as I would like it to be, a new bike is not on my radar any time soon.
* Corn syrup be damned I still love fierce melon Gatorade.
* Sometimes it's good to catch up with old friends you've not seen for 20 years.

We rode to this at mid-day:
Rocket - Smashing Pumpkins
Doesn't Remind Me - Audioslave
Up Tight - The Hives
Hello Conscience - The Zutons
Authority Song - John Mellencamp
A Tisket a Tasket - Stevie Ray Vaughan
I Predict a Riot - Kaiser Chiefs
Read My Mind - The Killers
Danny's Song - Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
Longview - Green Day
The State of Massachusetts - Dropkick Murphys
Warning Sign - Coldplay

There you have it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

True Winter Has Finally Arrived, Exited and Returned

I am indeed still riding outside every day, though it's not really very fun mainly because I have to clean my bike after every foray. At this point I've combined outdoor mileage/intervals with some solid indoor work on the rollers at work during class. It's about the only way I can stave off indoor training hate. So far just 2 days of indoor stuff and I hope to keep that under 10 total for winter. I typically end up with 18-22hrs per week right now. I think that's pretty good for January in Chicago. My hope is that I can carry as much fitness into spring as possible and keep the intensity at a level where the hole doesn't get too deep. The older I get the tougher it becomes to lose fitness and rebound, so I'm keeping things rolling and resting as needed.

To all my friends (and frenemies) who did the indoor TT last weekend - nice job!! I'll keep my $ and do my threshold intervals on the rollers....see you on the road for real in a couple of months. Indoor TTs don't motivate or benefit me - the advantage goes to those who can put out big power, period. Some racers get a lot out of doing them but I'm not one of them. Things are different outdoors.

Here's a playlist we're working with this week. Warm up, 12min@tempo, 8min@threshold and 5min@VO2 with short breaks between (we only have 45-50min for class).

Crush With Eyeliner - R.E.M.
I Got Shit - Pearl Jam
I Will Possess Your Heart (radio edit) - Deathcab for Cutie
Hail Hail - Pearl Jam
Devour - Shinedown
1901 - Phoenix
My Wave - Soundgarden
Fake It - Seether
Just Breathe - Pearl Jam
Uprising - Muse
The Great Beyond - R.E.M.

What else.....I've secured individual sponsorship with ZYM for 2010. This is most excellent- the product works well for me and it's a locally owned company run by a very cool guy (thanks Brian!). More stuff floating out there waiting to be nailed down. I'll fill things in as stuff falls into place.

What I just finished reading, 'Heaven Help Us All' by Fred Vargas (a woman). It was shared with me by a client who acquired it while traveling in New Zealand. Just a crime novel, nothing crazy. I'm in a bit of a holding pattern until my nook arrives next month. I'm so excited! Y'all need to get one of those!

Oh - and my state championship jerseys are arriving. New look for 2009/10 - thanks ICA!

Friday, December 18, 2009

2009 - A Season Post-Mort

In the sand pit at the state 'cross championship photo: J. Wrzyca

Wow - where did it all go? Here we find ourselves riding in the same wet, cold weather that we did some of the early April TTs in. As much as it seems like so long ago it's really not that far gone and many of the memories made along the way will stick with me for a long time. Looking over my race resume for 2009 I logged 45 race days, not including time spent at the track. That's a lot of racing - on some of those days I even doubled up and did two events.

Things in 2009 were a departure for me in lots of ways. After spending many years with the same women's team, I moved to PACT/DishNetwork and downsized my travel tremendously. Interestingly, I rode more, was stronger, faster and more fit in 2009 than ever before. Go figure. Maybe it had something to do with being part of a low-pressure, mellow group of racers who only wanted to race drama-free and have fun doing it. That change was exactly what I needed to revive my tired legs and burned out, anxious head. Changing teams was the single, best thing I could have done for my racing in 2009. Huge thanks to my awesome teammates and congratulations to all of them on the fine season they all had. You guys ROCK.

I'm not going to sit here and bask in my 'glorious' results. While I did manage to score a lot of wins, five state titles (Keirin, Points, Pursuit, Road Race and Cyclocross), two medals at Masters Nationals and overall titles in MATTS and ROTY, I worked very hard every day to make those things happen. Not every day was good. In fact, many were not at all good but thanks to a solid training partner who motivates me like no one else can and the determination to be better every day while keeping things fun, I ended up having one of the very best seasons I've ever had. Bottom line - hard work in a good environment brought good results for me.

So looking forward to 2010, I'm not yet certain what my plans are. I definitely want to return to Masters Road Nationals and do a cyclocross season. Not sure about my plans for track racing and I don't know how much local stuff I'll be doing, nor do I know how much travel I will or will not be doing. It's all very 'up in the air' right now. The one thing I know for sure is that whatever I do the most important thing is that it's low-stress and fun. Seems to me that I do best when I'm in that kind of situation :)

There are so many people to thank that I cannot possibly list them all here in this post. I suspect I'll leave many out and that would be uncool. So, let me say that to every person who helped me train and race better, supported me, listened to me, helped me understand myself better and basically was a positive influence on me and my 2009 season, thank you so very much. Your efforts will never be forgotten.

Thanks so much for reading - now and always.

Monday, December 7, 2009

'Cross Season Finale/State Championship @ Montrose Harbor

Reclaiming the State Title
Photo: Mary Wakeley
At long last the finish of the 2009 'cross season (and the season in general) arrives, and none too soon. The state championship was held at Montrose Harbor on Sunday and for the first time in a few years, it wasn't snowing. The last time I did/won this race was in 2006 - I'd chosen to sit it out since, deterred by really really cold, snowy weather and 'cross hate. It wasn't so super warm this year either but temps in the 20s were pretty tolerable, and abundant sunshine made it seem much better.

I'd done a bit of recon in the harbor area the preceding few days though the actual course itself wasn't unveiled til race day. I was on the fence about doing any pre-riding but I opted to head over early and was glad that I did - got in maybe 8-10 easy laps before the first race started and I think it made a huge difference by the time we lined up. I liked the course design, for the most part. I don't mind riding sand - I'm typically pretty good at getting through it, but there was a LOT of it at Montrose. Note to organizer - just because there's a lot of sand in the area doesn't mean you have to use it ALL... The course itself was pretty straightforward and included most every element a decent 'cross race should have - off-camber stuff, short punchy stuff, some technical bits, a little pavement, some gravel, a couple sets of barriers and a nice hill. Thankfully there was no mud and not a run-up to be found. Mercifully there was no goat-rodeo swirly thing.

The field ended up to be around 15 I think, with good representation. I was particularly concerned with Holly's presence - she's always strong and I'd not raced with her all season. I had no idea what to expect but I knew she was the one to watch. To say that I was having some pre-race anxiety was an understatement, following a night of insomnia.

Exiting the sand pit
photo: J. Wrycza
Things rolled off in a hurry and I was not ready. Holly snagged the hole shot and I spent the first 100 yards getting to second position - NOT clipped in. In fact, I didn't clip in until after the first set of barriers. I had some sticky mud in my cleat from standing around in the staging area. Soon enough we hit the big sand pit for the first time and Holly bit it - to my advantage. I made it through clean, hit it hard for the remainder of the lap and basically was away from there to the end. That was the whole race - right there. I was able to see Holly behind me at various points for the next two laps or so (of 6) but after that I was alone and just riding steady. I bit it 2 of the 6 times through the sand, which I though was pretty good all things considered. The entire pit got deeper, slower and more treacherous the more it was ridden through - I wasn't at all pleased with wiping out but in the big picture it turned out not to be an issue.

Crossing the finish line solo, hands in the air, was pretty exciting. I have to send huge thanks to all the cool kids who cheered and encouraged me on as I suffered through the race - copious snot and drool everywhere. In fact so much snot and drool that I fear I may never live that down. I heard each and every one of you and yes - you all helped me keep my head together and my legs pushing. Thanks also to for taking a chance and sponsoring my 2009 'cross adventure. It worked out pretty well, I'd say!

It would be wrong of me to not include a congrats not only to my Roscoe Village Bikes teammates who raced so well, but also to everyone who came out all season and raced hard. Special congrats to Pony Shop and Verdigris who ended up 1-2 in the series team competition - nice job by all. Wakes - not the greatest day for you but I'm so happy that you made the trip. The sand made it all worthwhile, didn't it? MetLifeGuy - you worked your ass off and earned every bit of your podium spot, congratulations. Mr. Pink - top of the podium again, well done! June - on the podium at last, and you belong there. Feels good, doesn't it? Holly - your being there made me sweat...thanks for the post race Rumple Minze. Holy crap...

The 2009 season wrap post is in the works. It's all in my head, just needs to be typed. The highlights, the lowlights and all the fun we had along the way...give me a week and check back. Til then, thanks for reading!!