Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Technology Tiger

I just booked my ticket for a race over three months from now, The Redlands Bicycle Classic.  This race marks the beginning of my 2012 campaign.  I already feel the pressure to do something big to get my team on board for taking a stab at the entire NRC Calendar

I have been in secret training mode since October.  So secret that I have abandoned the mustache and will likely do without it next year in an attempt to attack these races like a ninja.  To aid, my team is opting at keeping the jersey design pretty plain, despite my early attempts to mix things up with a design idea I dubbed the "Technology Tiger".

I've got mad Paint skills.
I tested out my sans mustache theory in Phoenix, AZ on a two week business trip that also turned into a two week secret cycling camp.  I met up with the elite national team, Landis Cyclery, during one of their minicamps thanks to a heads up from my buddy David Glick who will become the elder-muscle on the squad for the next year.  I was taken through the beautiful Tonto National Forest to Bartlett Lake.  This was an incredible ride, minus the brief hailstorm...

Bartlett Lake / Tonto National Forest
Halfway out of the climb out of the park my cover was blown by one of the teammates who had raced at Elite Nationals and then a flurry of attacks came from the young guns of yellow and green hailing from Tucson, Phoenix, and Flagstaff.  After a 60 hour work week and 20 hours already on the books for my training that week... I had to let the kids be kids, but they showed me that they mean business while knowing how to have a lot of fun.  Watch out for them in 2012.

Really excited for next year with the addition of Cisco to our sponsorship team.  I think I am in a rare situation to be representing two companies, XO Communications and Cisco Systems, Inc., in a work field capacity and a sponsorship capacity.  I happen to be Cisco certified and work as a Network Engineer that happens to use XO Communications for our Wide Area Network services.  I just nerded out a little, but it's pretty cool and I'm hoping I can be a strong ambassador for the companies on my bike and in my office.  I must be doing something right,  because despite the crazy balancing act I performed this year to be able to travel/race/work, I am happy to report I have secured work for the next two years.  And I put enough OT in while at Phoenix to hopefully fund my Christmas present to myself:

Eh, Eh... New Direction for 2012?

I don't think I'll be chasing that opportunity in Belgium next year.  I have many reasons, but it mostly comes down to being very happy with my current situation.  I felt the pressure to validate my racing season since I didn't get the invitation to the big leagues.  But I am validated everyday thanks to my friends, family, work, and motivation to keep racing here.

I look forward to sharing next season with you.  Who knows, maybe UnderTheRugg might start a little video series...

Monday, September 19, 2011


The Univest Grand Prix was nothing more than a final curtain call for what has been a long memorable season.  The broom wagon pulled up to me halfway through the race with the driver asking me if I was done.  I mustered an "I think so".  I had made a move earlier in the race knowing that I lacked the fitness to contest any finish, almost made it look good, and quickly faded.  The driver of the broom wagon rolled up the window and accelerated past me with a sign behind the vehicle stating END OF RACE.  I smiled and knew I was done.  End of season. 

I've received much more support than I could have ever asked for from my team, friends, and family this year.  And to top that off with encouragement and enthusiasm from awesome people I've met along the way has left me with a season I won't soon forget.  Thank you! 

2011 Season Achievements

1st Place - Morgantown RR

3rd Place - Elite National Championship Road Race

6th Place - Sat up early in Tour De Toona TT

Most Aggressive Rider - Nature Valley Grand Prix

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

THE UCWT GRWC: I'll just go to a Belgium themed bar tonight, instead.

Last Thursday I was hanging out at The Bike Rack when I started getting text messages asking if the mustache would be back in time, whether I was going to go, and congradulations.  It wasn't til someone told me to check the USA Cycling website that I had discovered a wild card invitation to race in the UCI World Cycling Tour (UCWT) World Championship Final in Belgium. 

Well... despite the offer to receive a free "Energy Shot of Quick Energy (59 ml)" if I was prepared to spend about $2,000 in airfare, lodging, registration fees, etc... - I quickly realized that I was going to have to sit out the Group Ride World Championship (GRWC).  The idea sounds awesome for the sport of cycling in general, but it's not for me.  I feel like it's more of a burden than an opportunity because of how ridiculous, yet exciting it all sounds.  If I had vacation time and robbed a bank, I would have jumped on it just for an excuse to go to Belgium.  I suppose their's always next year!  Oh wait, if I decline the invitation I automatically miss out on a chance to compete next year.  That negative reinforcement trick won't work this time.

Make some Illinoise!

While my team, XO Communications / Battley Harley-Davidson is stomping the Mid-Atlantic RR Championship this weekend in Page Valley, VA, I'll be getting stomped by the Columbia National Team and Geox-TMC among many other national and international pro teams at the UCI 2.2 Tour of Elk Grove.  Igor Voshteyn of Jonathan Adler racing was kind enough to let me race as a guest rider with them.  The world-class field and the chance to test my abilities at such a high level are only half as exciting as the fact that my dad is going to be in attendance among the crowd.  He hasn't seen me race yet. 

Last year my mom saw me race a local crit, The Fort Ritchie Classic Criterium in Maryland.  It was the first time she had seen a bike race.  I was off the front the entire race with Joe Dombrowski, Curtis Windsor, Russ Langley, and my teammate in the race, Chuck Hutcheson.  I won every preme lap and buried myself trying to get Chuck in position to win. Chuck won and my mom was proud and loved watching the race.  It'll be hard to pull something off at Elk Grove, but I can't explain how excited I am to try to make him proud.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Mustache: Ride.

I cringed when I set my alarm on my cell phone last night after the long trip back from Bend, Oregon and the Cascade Cycling Classic.  The phone displayed a message indicating "3 hours and 22 minutes until alarm".  I was home after a delayed flight back into DCA and had to scavenge some sleep before work.  If my car hadn't broke down a few weeks earlier, it might have said 4 hours - but now my extravagant bike/metro/walk/run commuting lifestyle had begun.  Back to reality... again.

I'm tired.  It's just after 8am and I am on my third cup of coffee.  I just finished a morning meeting but can't shake the images of the Cascades and the lava fields still fresh on my mind.  On paper, it doesn't look like I had a very good race - and if we're looking at the results... that's pretty much true, but I experienced some of the best bike riding to date. 

Two days ago I was dropped on the final stage of the CCC, the Awbrey Butte Circuit Race.  I raced for maybe 25 miles when everything went dark in the 83 mile conclusion to the 6-day race.  My heartrate was maxed, my breathing strained, and my ability to turn the pedals over had suddenly became a struggle with no fight left in me.  I had just came back from an attack - I don't know why I had attacked... I never have a very good reason except I love doing it. 

The night before I attacked randomly with 5 laps to go in the Downtown Bend criterium and scored myself $200.  I had spent most of that evenings race accumulating cheering sections for "Mustachio!... 99!... STACHE'!...Rugg!..." while surfing around the back of the race, that I felt compelled to give them a little more to cheer for.  It was a short-lived attack, doomed from the get-go with Kelly's train poised to run right over me for their lead-out.  It was a short-lived attack that made the whole trip worth it.  I was with high-fives from kids telling me I was there favorite! ...Me? ...Someone's favorite?  People wanted to take their picture with me.  And yes, I was asked for my autograph.  Their is no bigger award than knowing that somebody is cheering you on.

I was going through the feed zone for the second time during the Awbrey Butte Circuit Race, and I knew that my race was coming to an end.  I rode myself silly for days, probably doing a lot more than I should have, thinking I would still be able to pull off some final hour miracle.  But the miles had taken their toll and my legs weren't up for the impossible.  I had put so much pressure to do something awesome to impress others, and there I was, riding alone, off the back, dropped... riding for noone but myself.  At first I thought I'd just finish the lap.  Then I thought, one more lap for training.  And then I started riding hard.  And then I wanted to make it back to the valley road where you had to look behind you to see the Cascades, and had I not been dropped - would have missed the incredible view. 

And then I wanted to finish.  It was just me and my bike for almost 60 miles.  The final lap I saw only a few course marshalls picking up discarded bottles and the occasional field mouse.  I mostly thought about how lucky I was and how crazy this year has been for me.  It had been a long time since I got to spend time riding alone, and I remembered how much I loved just having that time to think about anything and everything.  I came across the finish line 38 minutes down from the winner and I had fell in love with riding my bike all over again.  If I never go pro, at least I got some high fives along the way.

PS - The mustache is gone.  For now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Season Peak: What a ride this is...

"Allez! Allez!" ...I heard a man shouting behind me as I had my bike checked by officials to ensure it met UCI standards.  Allez translated from French is simply, "Go".  But spoken in French, this interjection commonly heard among the cycling community is beautiful and utterly encouraging.

I was lining up to race the clock against the likes of Bissell, Pure Black Racing, and Team Type 1 Development.  I hadn't rode the TT bike in almost two months and it was the first time ever racing on it.  The course was 5km with 15 technical turns through the business district of Altoona, PA.  I took the time to preview the course multiple times and now sat perched on my TT rig awaiting the countdown on the starting ramp replaying in my head over and over the advice I was just given by the bystander on the course, "Go".

I ripped through the 5k course in 05:15.9 averaging over 35mph missing an NRC podium by 3 seconds.  I finished in 6th place as the 1st amateur but was only immediately satisfied with my result.  When I look back on it, I only almost crashed twice and was a bit confused trying to find the finish line.  If I would have almost crashed 5 times, I surely would have found myself sharing a step with Bissell and Pure Black Racing.  I'll try harder and risk more next time.

Game Face

The rest of the Tour de Toona was a lot of fun with our 5-guy squad composed of two composite riders, David Glick and Steven Gordon.  These guys along with my teammates Sean Barrie and Keck Baker made for an awesome stage race full of tons of eating, racing, and bad TV to pass the time at the Blue Knob Ski Resort.  To wrap up the Tour de Toona and move on to other exciting news, I had a few more good results:

15th - Blue Knob Road Race
9th - Blair County Road Race
14th - Overall Standing after 4 stages

The Cascade Cycling Classic starts next Tuesday and I couldn't be more excited.  It was always a question whether I could fit it in my work schedule and then still coordinate the logistics required to race on the other side of the country, but it's all coming together. 

I've been working 50-62.5 hour weeks for the past month and have the green light from work to go, so I've purchased my airfare into Portland, OR next Monday.  I haven't figured out how I'm getting from Portland to Bend, so PLEASE reach out to me if you or anyone you know can help me with this!  My friend Troy Cross, contributor for Great Uncle Pappy's Cycling Almanac, will be coming to see stages 4 and 5 - bringing me back to Portland at the end of the race.

That brings the question about what to do about water bottle feeding during the races and transportation to the races.  That's where it gets interesting.  I'll be guest riding for a very well respected team, RideClean p/b  As long as I can get to where the team is staying - I'll have some race support and awesome company thanks to an invitation from one of their riders, David Glick (Guest rode for XO Communications/Battley Harley-Davidson) at Tour De Toona.

The RideClean mission "is to promote Clean Sport, facilitate discussion of this topic and support avowedly clean athletes through an organization of solidarity and in an environment that allows development according to individual potential."  I am honored to be riding for a team with such an awesome mission and am equally glad that RideClean doesn't include CleanShaven requirements, so the mustache ride will continue.  Note:  The mustache and myself have been tested negative and are just as passionate about Clean Sport as RideClean.

Tour of Elk Grove has been on my calendar all year.  I never thought I'd get into it... but I was always hoping I'd stumble across a way in.  Elk Grove is a UCI 2.2 Stage Race right outside of Chicago August 5th-7th.  To give UCI 2.2 meaning - it's basically a whole level higher than the NRC Pro Races that I've been doing.  At Tour de Toona, I got wind that Jonathan Adler Racing had been given an invite to race at Elk Grove, so I let them know I was interested.  They immediately extended the offer to ride with them and now I'm anxiously trying to book my flight and figure out how I can get my dad to come see me race for the first time.

I had my best cross-country result in high school when my dad came to watch.  It was something in the 19 minute range - I wasn't fast - but I was motivated to dig deeper.  My dad lives 3.5 hours away from Elk Grove in Battle Creek, MI.  It's never really been a possibility for him to come see me race, since most of my races, until this year, have been concentrated to the Mid-Atlantic region.  This race is a huge opportunity for me and I'm very excited to be racing for Jonathan Adler Racing.  I hope I can dig deep and make my dad proud in what will likely be the hardest race I've ever competed in.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Race Report: Road Race National Championship 2011


I never gave my report about Stillwater and the rest of NVGP because I have been going nonstop since leaving for Minnesota, returning back to work, heading to Georgia for Nationals, and getting back this morning at 4:00AM.  I left for work this morning at 6:30AM.  I'm writing more to stay awake than anything today, but I want to replay the race while it's still fresh in my mind.  I apologizing for not completing the final part of the NVGP series: Dreams... but let's just say that dreams came true and new ones are developing.

 Stillwater Criterium - Initiating the break of the day.
 Most Aggressive Musta...err Rider
 Honored to be up there with those guys.

Road Race National Championship

Located on the Fort Gordon Army base, I started the race at the very back to keep myself from being anxious in the beginning and burning up at the high noon, 100 degree start with 219 Elite National racers from all over the country.  Chuck attacked from the gun, because he is about as inpatient as myself, but he does an awesome job getting exposure for the US Military team and for our team.

Laps 1-3
I kept it cool and surfed the back for the first say, 40 miles.  My numbers won't be accurate, because I stopped using a computer in May and started listening to my body more and trying to focus on the race as it is happening.  Despite my numbers discrepancy, I can guarantee this to be a lot more accurate than the online cycling journal reports available.  I sometimes wonder if they are even at the races.  

Lap 4
A threatening 7-man move was up the road on the start of the 4th lap.  I had tried to bridge up solo on the start of the 3rd lap unsuccessfully as teammates from those represented in the break were trying to shut down any attempt to get across to the move.  This worried me, so I discussed with one of my teammates the need to bridge across.  I told him I would do everything it took to get there and keep it away, or just work to bring the field back together later if I can't, since he had a better chance in the field sprint than me.  I saw my chance on the first substantial climb of the lap and bridged the 40 second gap in a matter of minutes and immediately began taking extended pulls, getting our gap up to 1:15 by the start of the 5th lap.  

Lap 5
On the 5th lap it was me, Rick Norton, and a Monster Media rider trying to up the pace.  I had started this off with aggressive pulls up the climb with moaning and groaning behind me about keeping it smooth.  In any other race... I would have probably chilled out... but this was the National Championships!  We had 8 guys and this was probably all of our best chance, and guys were still trying to conserve energy... And for what?  Every guy in the break had teammates.  Bury yourself, if not for you... then for your teammates, make the field suffer chasing.  Luckily Rick and the Monter Media guy understood the since of urgency and we rolled most of the lap quicker with less participation than the previous lap.  Two riders bridged up near the end of the 5th lap.  I forgot to mention that these were just over 14 mile laps and their were 7 laps of racing.  We came to the feed zone near the end of the 5th lap and we had split our group down to 5 riders through the start/finish with the field charging at 35 seconds back.

Lap 6 
The writing was on the walls but the Monster Media rider, myself, and Rick would not give up.  I was loving it.  We had a couple stragglers that eventually led to everyone but myself willing to work.  I made my last cry for our glory expecting that to be the end of our day and a job well done, and drilled it on the front for a few miles while the remainder of the guys were soaked up by the field.  I didn't stop going until the field caught me.

I took a deep breathe and on the next hill I ramped it up again with a Cal Berry and Metlife rider.  After about a minute I looked back and we were gone

Here we go again! Probably about 24 miles left to go at this point.  We rotated at a quick rate, both of the riders doing a fare share more work, myself never missing a pull... but beginning to fade.  Halfway into the lap we were joined to make a group of 15 riders with a 50 second gap.  I was a bit heartbroken to find out none of my teammates had taken the free ride up and relented to the rear of this large group realizing I had to do whatever possible to stay with this move as long as possible.  We came through the feed zone near the finish at an alarming rate and the group got a little smaller.  

Lap 7
The field was on our tails and after a couple strong attempts from riders to get away, we were dangling out front with about 8 riders remaining.  For sure this was it for the breaks of the day and it was surely going to come to a field sprint now.  So I did the only thing I know how to do.  Attack.  I went solo.  Most of the remainder of the break was being swept up while I was increasing my gap and I just kept thinking to myself, "At least I gave it all", when 4 guys came charging up about a mile later.  I latched on to the group including Max Korus, Jesse Moore, Greg Krause, and Austin Roach.  

Austin was the Metlife rider from my earlier 3-up self counter attack.  He was a big strong man on the flats along with Greg while Jesse and Max pushed it up the hills.  I contributed as much as possible but I was all but finished, I knew it, and I couldn't hide it... but I wanted to keep trying to pull through... because I don't care how tired I am - I'm always going to contest the finish.  I just wanted to make sure they knew I was working while not accidentally popping myself.  

We had 50 seconds going into the last mile of the race.  It was certain we'd stay away and I was fairly certain I'd finish 5th because I was barely able to pull through and sometimes unable to on the flats... but there was a 500 meter kicker before the 500 meter drag to the line.  I covered the first attack to the right by Greg, surprisingly, while Austin had fell off the change of pace on the incline.  On the other side of the road I watched my chance at the Stars and Stripes jersey attack up the road with Max Korus being towed by Jesse Moore up the climb.  I made enough of a dig to grab separation from Greg before the road flattened out, but I would never see a chance to contest the two riders claiming Gold and Silver.  Huge congrats go out to the young Max Korus, 23.  Keck, my teammate, finished 4th in the field sprint to get himself in the top 10 at 9th.  Not bad for a team to send 4 guys and have 2 finish in the top 10!

I am happy with Bronze and am happy knowing that I raced with all my heart and strength and probably had one of my best rides ever on a bike.  I am happy to have shared the podium with some really strong guys and to have had the learning experience.  The weekend was long and hot but thanks to the support I have had as of late from my team, cycling community, friends, and family - it has been a fun ride and I hope it continues through July where I will be racing Tour De Toona in Altoona, PA and the Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend, OR.  Just look out for the mustache and you will find me.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

Work, Life, Cycling - Scaled to fit. (NVGP - Part 3)


The Balance  

The highs and lows of cycling for an amateur cyclist like myself are a lot different than what the pros experience.  Personally I find my highs to be times when I have nothing to worry about but riding my bike:  not having to worry about if I'll have my suit dry-cleaned in time for work, or if I am going to have time to make it to the grocery store in between my Sunday race and my Monday workday, or if I'm going to be able to fit in any quality training or enough sleep throughout the week.  Obviously, lows would be defined when it's stressful to get to a race because I have too many other things to focus on outside of cycling. 

Racing my bike is a privilege and if it weren't for work and other responsibilities, I could imagine myself riding a high for as long as I can turn the pedals over.  Maybe this is a childish dream, but it's still a beautiful picture, a simple one with lots of fresh air and beautiful views; there are a lot worse dreams to pursue than this.  Alas, unless I win the lottery, I will be tip-toeing the delicate balance between work, life, and cycling.   
Things seem to change pretty rapidly and almost always unexpectedly for me, so I'll use the past few days up until now as an example of what this balance looks like. 

I am at work.  Sounds tough right?  No no, let's be clear, I'm using my break time to write this.  I just possibly had my last coffee for quite a while.  I've been struggling with acid reflux and heartburn for over two weeks, regardless of what I eat or drink.  I've got a doctor's appointment in a few hours during my lunch break to see what the Doc thinks.  I'm very tired today.  I raced two NRC criteriums over the weekend and got a lot of good speed training in.  I raced as expected, trying to attack and get in moves as much as possible, but no fruit for my labor.  I'm saving that for Nature Valley.  I didn't really want to race yesterday with all the things I had left to do at home.  I spent last night doing laundry and organizing what items were okay to move into storage because of the basement flooding, and what items I would need when I get back from Minnesota to get me through the rest of the month before moving into a new place.  I also started making a list of items I'm hoping to recover from the damage.  I'm headed to a final round interview immediately after work tonight for a group house in Columbia Heights that I'm very interested in.  I broke my retainer.  Krazy Glue seems to have saved it, but tastes funny... that's probably really bad for me.  I need to make a list today to make sure I don't forget anything tomorrow.  My flight leaves at 6:15 AM.  I'm going to have to get a cab because of the timing.  I wish I could say it was smooth sailing from there.  But I'll have to spend 6 hours working remotely from the host house.  I just sent in my request for time off for the big stage races, Toona and Cascade, in July.  That'll likely mean more crammed work schedules and graveyard shifts.  I need to book my hotel for Nationals and my flight for Cascade. 

All of this ignores some of the things in life that most people value:  friendship and meeting people off the bike.  I hope I'll be able to squeeze in a date in the next couple months.  That's part of the balance severely suffering right now.  This is why people use online dating websites, right? 

At least I performed a masterful job on my beard, trimming it into a mustache for the Nature Valley Grand Prix.  The handlebar didn't turn out as originally planned, but I'll take the monopoly guy look.  My priorities are just fine.

I'm really looking forward to sharing my dreams for the NVGP during my layover in Wisconsin tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Getting ready for Nature Valley (NVGP - Part 2)

The fine folks at Nature Valley just sent me an awesome care package!  The swag has inspired me to carry on the this mini-series of pre-race hype as planned.  This is a beautiful relationship we have.


Getting ready for Nature Valley

I didn't race over the weekend and haven't touched my bike since last Thursday.  Part of this is by plan, part of it is by necessity.  I'm taking a much needed rest week followed by some tune-ups before I leave, but I'm also doing logistics.  

Bike racing is like war--it's mostly logistics.  For the past week, I've been arranging my life so I'll be able to duke it out with the best in the country in just over a week.


Of course, none of this is very sexy or interesting.  For example, I can think of more thrilling things to describe than, say, the act of booking my flight leaving for Minneapolis - Saint Paul leaving next Tuesday at six in the morning.  I wish I could say that the experience starts then, but I am still obligated to work a half-day remotely when I arrive.  Hot stuff, right?

Fitting this race into my schedule has been my biggest barrier in getting ready for Nature Valley.  I'm not complaining, since I'm doing what all amateur bike racers do who attempt to take the leap into professional bike racing.  It's hard--actually, impossible--to complain about the chance of a liftetime. 

I'll be staying in host housing from next Tuesday until the following Monday, where again I'll have to work (remotely) a half-day before flying back to DC.  I worked two 12.5 hour graveyard shifts this past weekend to allow myself to take off the time needed for this event.  I raced the Tour De Somerville on Memorial Day and BaseCamp International this past Thursday while still cramming in a 65 hour work week.   


My living situation has recently come under duress.  Actually, under water.  A faulty water line in the house I'm living in left my basement room in six inches of water.  For the past week I've been trying to salvage as much of my stuff as possible while figuring out a new living situation.  Couch surfing and Craigslist rental ads have been my focus, when I really wanted to focus on my bike, my fitness, and my dream. 

Also distracting my excitement for NVGP is getting the logistics squared away for Nationals the following week in Augusta, GA.  I'm signed up to take a shot at the crit and road race, but still haven't nailed down the logistics for that trip.  And even though it's early, but not really early, I'm trying to get my schedule opened up to allow me to travel to Tour De Toona and Cascade Cycling Classic.  Again, I'm fortunate, even a little wet and mildewy.  I really have very little to complain about if these are the problems I have right now.

To Do

Rest.  It's not going to come as easily as planned.  Hopefully, just taking a week off the bike should really help.  Other things pending:

-Dentist Appointment.  Hopefully, he will not have to recap all my teeth, as a dentist did for Tyler Hamilton after he gound his teeth down to nubs riding the Tour with a broken clavicle. 

-Doctor Appointment (Physical/Health Assessment):  My resting heart rate is absurdly low, you say?  Oh, maybe I forgot to tell you--I have the heart of a horse and the circulatory system of a...let's just say I race bikes, Doctor.

-Air Force Cycling Classic - Two NRC Criteriums in Arlington, VA this Saturday and Sunday.  I can't think of a better tune-up.  Scott Zwizanski credited his form at NVGP last year to these two races and I'm hoping I'll benefit as well.  It's high caliber, high intensity criterium racing.  Come out and watch!

-Work:  I did mention that I work, right?

-Pack:  Have to keep reminding myself, "no 1 gallon tub of D'Z Nuts in carry-on."

-Manscape the Handlebar Mustache:  Currently leading the poll, I have no say in this decision.

-Get to airport:  How cool would it be to ride my bike there?  

Getting ready for Nature Valley just consists of "getting my ducks in a row."  I just have quite a few ducks to get organized, and I've probably stepped on a few ducks along the way. 

Next up I'll talk a little more about balancing everything, and when it comes time to race, I promise to give you the good stuff instead of just a visit to the dentist's.

Thanks for reading!

I found this gem from last cyclocross season giving a preview of what to expect from the poll so far:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Who I am. Why I race. (NGVP - Part 1)

Today marks two weeks until the start of the Nature Valley Grand Prix.  My e-mailbox is starting to fill up with updates and excitement from my NVPR coach Marion Clignet and the rest of the NVPR staff.  From a joke, to a dream, to a goal... I'm almost there.


Who I am.
My name is Timothy Rugg.  Most of the local cycling community refers to me as Ruggles.  The name doesn't make, because there's nothing cute about me.  After a fierce battle at Speedweek with a metal barrier, sinus infection, and women in general... the name has evolved into Struggles.

I am a bike racer.  I currently race for the Elite National team, XO Communications/Battley Harley-Davidson.  I started racing exactly three years ago.  I remember seeing Harley at races and group rides and thinking about how awesome it would be to one day get to ride on the squad.  It was a feeling much like Dave Stoller's interest in the 'Italian Cycling Team' in Breaking Away.  Thanks to a lot of trust, guidance, patience, and no frame pumps in spokes from their riders and team management - I've rapidly developed and am now working towards my next step.  I owe a lot to getting to ride for this squad and am very thankful for the support the team has given me.

I haven't always been a bike racer.  I spent 9 years playing the trumpet before I gave up on the dream of Cruise Ship Jazz Performer or High School Band Director.  I switched from music to computers and completed my B.S. at East Carolina University.  During my latter college years I played ultimate frisbee and was the vocals/throat for a post-hardcore/screamo band that did a little touring and recorded one album.

Music is still a huge part of my life and I've been lucky enough to play my trumpet with a couple outfits in the DC area and hope to pick that hobby up more and more as I continue to find things to cram into my already busy schedule. 

I also miss the years I spent immediately after college working for non-profit/humanitarian aid organizations such as Invisible Children, Krochet Kids Intl., and World Concern on the West Coast and in Uganda and Kenya.  These were days when I felt like no matter what I was doing or trying to do, at least I was trying to give something where something was needed.  That sounds generic, but that is all I really want out of life.  
Why I race. 
It was the The Bike Rack and the shop's club team that first took me under their wing.  The friends and support I gained from them is invaluable.  A team composed of men and women, old and young with everything from weekend warriors, cycling enthusiasts, and novice racers created an atmosphere that let its members decide what exactly they wanted out of riding a bike.  I wanted as much as I could get.  I dreamed out loud to my teammates quite often about the possibility of one day going pro while still a little fish in the big Cat 5 racing sea.  It was such a big idea back then; it couldn't be fathomed as a goal.  I had only just watched the Tour De France for the first time and just started learning the names and teams beyond Lance and the Postal Service team.  At most, it may have just been a joke that I bounced off guys to spur some sort of encouragement or reality check. 
I'm racing because I want to achieve this definite dream of becoming a professional bike racer.  I am definitely the kind of person that tries to prove anything is possible.  The more I've been told it's not possible, the closer I've gotten.  I am late to the game at 25 years old, but still new enough to the sport to have the determination and development potential that a pro team could utilize.  
Maybe it's the appeal of travelling the country and possibly the world, of seeing a dream come true, as my job!  I love training hard, racing hard, and resting hard.  The life of a bike racer, hard and impoverished as it may be, seems exciting, simple and challenging. 

Whether I race for my rent money or do it for the joy of racing, I love to ride and race.  I've become more and more in love with the sport.  The thought of having an opportunity to drop everything and take a chance on trying to become a professional bike racer or riding for a professional team is why I've trained and worked as hard has I have.  I'm lucky enough to have the opportunity to make this dream, if not a reality, at least a possibility.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

And we're back!

I took a little hiatus from the blogging but recent excitement and upcoming events have me excited to write again. I opened a twitter account to try to handle the updating... but it has it's limits. Follow me @TimothyRugg for my blogging with brevity and be sure to RT and # appropriately. Like I said, just opened an account - so the twitgon is a little silly to me.

Thanks to guidance from the Nature Valley media guru's, I've got a four part series leading up to the Nature Valley Grand Prix two weeks from now to blog about.
  1. Who I am. Why I race.
  2. Getting ready for NVGP
  3. Balancing Work, Life, and Racing
  4. Dreams for NVGP
You can see my mustache picture in the Riders section on the Nature Valley Pro Ride website. I think I'm going to setup a poll to determine whether to rock the Grizzly Beard, Handlebar Mustache, or Clean Cut look for the race. My rider agreement didn't have any restrictions to facial hair... so, I'll leave that decision in your hands. Then again, if the goal of this opportunity is to try to "Go Pro" then going clean cut might be the most professional option. Then again, again, standing out is hard when you look like everyone else, right?

I'll try to have the first of the series up before BaseCamp International p/b Verizon Wireless Thursday. That race marks the beginning of a rest week and the end of a six week block. I also have a 65 hour work week to ensure I can take the time off to go to Minnesota. Please keep up with me as I try to keep up with all this!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Speedweek: Part 1

We've been on the road since Thursday evening.

I'm staring out into a murky marsh with a a salt water river just a little further out in sight. You can see the downtown waterfront across the river with the church steeple peaking through the moss trees. An ingrid just plucked a fish from the marsh grass.

We'll be finishing up our third race of the Speedweek series in about twelve hours from now in Beaufort, SC downtown. It's a very peaceful morning and I'm still trying to take in the view from our host house. I've been up for a few hours now while my other teammates catch up on sleep. The locals tell me the river I see is one of the most shark infested rivers in the country. In fact, they often find fossils of Megladon teeth to this day. I am not getting into any body of water that has animals that sound like transformers with teeth the size of my palm, even if they are extinct. But possibly we will get to visit the beach while we're here!

Thursday & Friday - (April 28th,29th)

Russ, Brown, and I left the Buzas Bungalow at around 7PM. We made it until Durham, NC and found a Red Roof Inn to rest. We ate at IHOP and finished the long trip to Athens, GA. Grid qualifiers for the Athens Twilight Criterium were at 3:45PM for us Friday, and we all had a lot of trouble putting in a good effort with blocked legs and blocked sinuses. I was at the peak of my sinus infection and my head almost exploded during the seven and half minute effort. Just for showing up we were all granted starting positions within the first third of the race field and Russ a call-up.

Athens Twilight Criterium - (Athens, GA - April 30th)

This video pretty much sums up everything but "The Crash". About 30 laps into the 80 lap race I found myself in a split caused by United-Healthcare's train catching a two-man break. I also found myself behind a UHC rider that lost control into turn one while they were doing their notorious snake-swiping-sweep move. I tried to counter steer heading into the fastest corner upwards of 30mph, but my bike jerked me right into the fence barrier.

If you've seen my facebook page, you've seen the damage to my arm. Nothing broken, but a torn bicep and a hematoma that has since drifted from my upper arm down to my lower arm, has made riding hard.

I took a free lap following the crash. My bike was in one piece. And I was granted my spot back in the split so I knew I had to try to continue racing. The split widdled down as Karl Menzies, Johnny Sundt, and myself took to the front and eventually created about a fourteen man breakaway. Sometime after the halfway point and after many unsuccessful attempts to get away with various moves, the winning move of 4-riders left me behind with a group of content riders that set tempo until the field eventually caught us with 15 laps to go. I went straight to the paramedic when the field caught. My race was over.

Roswell Twilight Criterium (Roswell, GA - May 1st)

I had spent the previous night in the ER making sure my arm wasn't broken. I didn't get to sleep until some time after 4AM. I didn't come here to watch racing, so I figured I'd keep my sling on until the race, get my points for starting, and pull out shortly after. Adrenaline kicked in.

Russ, Jared, and I all found opportunities to get off the front in this one, but the multitude of crashes and even a late-race restart, killed the momentum we were driving. I found myself behind a crash with 5 laps to go, realized their were no longer freelaps at this point, and suffered chasing back on and then charging my way through the field in vein to finish 55th. Jared and Russ managed to avoid a final turn pile-up to make it into the money at 21st and 16th respectively.

Their were many times I had to let out audible grunts from the impact of potholes and having to sprint out of the saddle, but I felt like things went pretty well all things considered.

Rest Day and Beyond

That brings us back full-circle to our enormous pink-flamingo colored host house on an intracoastal waterway in tranquil South Carolina. The Kessells are showing us some real southern hospitality and we are all very excited to show them what we got tonight at the Beaufort Criterium. We're here for two more days with races in Walterboro, SC and Spartanburg, SC before we travel again. For some travel photos check out what Brown has got going over at East Brown and Down.

(Recovery Ride)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I'm Ready

The truth was that for some months he had been going through that partitioning of the things of youth wherein it is decided whether or not to die for what one no longer believes...he used to think that he wanted to be good, he wanted to be kind, he wanted to be brave and wise, but it was all pretty difficult. He wanted to be loved, too, if he could fit in in.

-F. Scott Fitzgerald

I write and erase A LOT. It's probably better that way.

I'm rested. My form is good.

Speedweek starts Friday in Athens, GA with Grid Qualifiers.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Tale of the Turtle Omen

Unlike the sad fortune of the snapper at Carl Dolan, a story has reached my inbox of another turtle that fared a better day and granted one lucky rider a wish for his altruism. A turtle from yesteryear along the same path as the snapper caught the eye of one of the local sprintheads, Pete Custer.

Pete evacuated his car and set the mythical being off towards the grass, safe from the otherwise inevitable encounter with one of the DC metro area's very proud multitasking drivers.

The turtle was shocked by the display of compassion and asked the samaritan, who was built more like a mac truck than a cyclist, to request one wish from him. Pete desperately wanted to win the race he was headed to that day. His wish was granted that day and Pete became a believer of the turtle.

Going back to this past Sunday, where I imagine the fatality remains where we found it out of fear of further curse, a story was remembered. The snapper brought back the memory of the little boxer turtle and the myth of great fortune it provides for the kind-hearted. It was only (super)natural that Pete used his (higher)power to kick to a second place result at Carl Dolan.

I strongly believe Pete would have won at Carl Dolan if their wasn't another being blessed with the powers of the turtle present at the race. I hate to speculate but a case has been opened on whether Evan Fader is actually a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. I've seen him without a helmet, and my guess is Donatello.

If the legend of the turtle and it's mystical fortune floats, then I'm left to assume that someone from DC Velo ran over that poor snapper at Carl Dolan last Sunday.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Turtle Down - Not forgotten.

This concludes my last crash block of training before USA CRITS Speed Week. I did the double dirty Thursday with my TT rig during the noon goon and my Blue for the rock creek goon ride in the evening, a 90 mile ride Friday out past Sugarloaf Mountain, the Roanoke Twi(night) Criterium Saturday, and a final effort yesterday at the most well organized but most boring race of my life at Carl Dolan. It's time for a weekend off before the 9 day, 7 race, twilight crit racing extravaganza down South.

I'm not a crit racer, but I am a crit racer. I suppose it's the same thing as not considering myself a true climber, but people thinking I am. Hopefully I have that odd personality that likes the solo challenge against a stopwatch, so that we can all agree that I am a TT specialist. But let's not jump ahead of ourselves... I've never had a successful Time Trial due to mechanicals/fit/excuses/equipment/more excuses.

THURSDAY I lived how I expect most pros would. From beginning to end, my whole focus on the day was cycling. I started off the day picking up a rear wheel that had exploded from Cyclelife, which I assumed was due to the collision from the taxi cab I took a couple weeks before. I had some coffee and had some words with Esmond and Frick and watched recorded footage from Paris-Roubaix, the 08' Tom Boonen edition.

From Cyclelife I left for Hains Point for the infamous Noon Goon. It was a massacre of buses when I got there, but it had cleared up for the most part and a group of about twenty riders formed. This was the first time in my new position on my TT bike, and it felt good. I felt fast. And Nima felt pain.

A protein shake later I was at my beloved shop, The Bike Rack. The mechanics and service guys there are about as down to earth as they get and I always enjoy just stopping in to hang out for no reason. Nick Kwasigrouch - the master service specialist at , p90x pioneer, and pista palping randonneur, got lunch at Whole Foods and caught up over some dehydrated kale and pizza. Nick's responsible for the design of the upcoming shop jersey that holds a Vintage and Leopold Trek-esque style that will surely be a hit. I might have to get one for cyclocross. If you need a graphic designer for anything, I'll put you in touch, he's good.

Now back at the Buzas Bungalow (home) a couple hours before the evening ride I set up camp on the porch furniture with a book, beverage, and bike relaxing until the second goon of the day. My legs were wide open and I kept the throttle that way the entire ride. The first of tests following Battenkill showed me that the fitness was really coming along. I cooked myself some pasta and went to bed early. If that's what living like a pro is like, I could live with that.

FRIDAY was an absolutely beautiful day. I had originally intended to go out for 3 easy hours, but realized immediately that this might be my last chance to get a really long hard day on the bike in good conditions. I made sure to grab an extra blueberry scone at Starbucks to account for the caloric deficiency that was pending the 90 mile ride and set off. I finished the ride 8 pounds lighter than I started. That's not that odd though, and I made up for it that evening.

Dinner 1 - 4pm: Pasta and Peas at home while watching Equilibrium.
Dinner 2 - 7pm: Halibut, Risotto, and Beer at Bar Pillar. I missed out on the Mussels but had a good time catching up with two of my old teammates and engaged-cyclists-to-be, Kevin Cross and Dennis Bodewits. I hope I didn't infringe on some last-hour bachelor bonding.
Dinner 3 - 9pm: Pizza and Pasta with Buzas at Pines of Rome in Bethesda, MD.

SATURDAY was reserved for the Roanoke Twilight Criterium in Roanoke, VA. I was very excited as this was the first speed test of the year having a number of pro riders show up to make for a strong field and aggressive racing.

Fast forwarding through the inclement weather that is becoming a pattern when I travel with Russ to races... The seven riders, Keck, Mason, Brown, Russ, Switters, Jared, and myself were ready to roll on the dry 6 corner course at 9:00PM. The only substantial light on the course was through the start finish line. The rest of the course had lights scattered making depth perception harder with the skewed shadows and road inconsistencies invisible. I was frustrated that someone actually thought parking a car with it's high beams on pointing directly at the field before a 90 degree turn was a good idea.

We missed the first move. It was up to Mason and I to bring the field back together. I drilled it on the front alone for the latter part of the chase for 10 laps with Team Mountain Khakis giving me that oh so familiar glare we like to give at local races, meaning, "you aren't getting any help." Within 50 meters of the breakaway I was finally given a break when Russ and Jared jumped across. I immediately went into panic-recovery mode and luckily Russ and Jared were able to form a group with five other riders that lapped the field about 25 laps later.

At this time I was back at the front marking Clayton Barrows/Stans No Tubes who had already lapped the field and was trying to escape again. After a few unsuccessful attempts Switters made it to the front with Russ in tow and the call was made to control the race. Brown, Switters, and I set a mean tempo for the biggest portion of the race making the team look very good and strong with Russ sitting in the passenger seat.

We lost the stranglehold, or I guess more of a firm grip, with about 20 laps to go as the barrage of attacks were unleashed by guys caught out from the breakaway and guys going for gold who were already a lap-up from the earlier 7-man move. It was just Russ, Keck, Jared, and myself left - and as much as we tried to control and keep the tempo high, the winning move did get away by Ziwacki from Team Mountain Khakis.

I tried to get Jared on my wheel for the field sprint but his race had ended many laps prior and was left to hope for the best for Russ who was outkicked at the line by another Mountain Khakis rider and Clayton Barrows. The results show Russ 4th, Jared 7th, Rugg 12th, Keck 13th. However, they don't show how well we rode as a team and how much promise we have for the bigger races to come. That was fun.

SUNDAY was the Carl Dolan race. Too short to be considered a road race and laps too long to be considered a criterium. This was simply a 40-mile group ride. I'll spare you all the details and sum up the race with what was discovered on the course...

Biggest snapper turtle I've ever seen! I was as disappointed with the race as I was that someone was careless enough driving to actually hit this turtle. The symbolism is beautiful though, so he/she had a special place in my heart that day.

Eli saved the day with an invite to Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar. We drank, we ate, and we were merry.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New(s) - Too much to read.

I am shifting my entire season focus over to the Capital Bike Share Pseudo-Circuit Race: 2011 . I look at this opportunity as a way to not only promote a great bike share program, but myself as a mega-threat in the Mid-Atlantic racing community. I also think my attendance could capture the interest of the UCI. This could lead to possible random drug testing at the event keeping out recently suspended riders local to our region.

Pete was fast - Pete is banned. Popped for drostanolone, common medical use being the treatment of breast cancer in post-menopausal women. Does it even matter that he is serving a 2-year suspension, seeing that he had hung up his competition bike? I wonder why he admitted to drug use even before the date they were going to sanction him. I hope their is more to the story than we know now. I hope the guys who got second and third to him at Nationals were not clean... because I would go nuts if I found out I got beat by a doper.


I had a bike fit Thursday morning with Josh Frick at CycleLife in Georgetown. I can say without hesitation that this was the best investment I have ever made in regards to my cycling development, mostly because if I hadn't my cycling tenure could have been cut short due to my previous position. I had a lot of things wrong and to spare you the details, he drastically changed my position. I should be able to put out more seated power once the newly recruited supporting muscles are strengthened and physiologically, I shouldn't be at risk of injury. His insight and attention to detail was beyond expectations and his concern with putting me in the most efficient position even more satisfying. I had a Retul fit done with both my road bike and TT bike and it took over 5 hours. He won't miss anything, and Retul doesn't miss anything. The accuracy of the equipment and what the numbers indicate lead me to believe that any fit not done with Retul, is going to miss something. And that something could lead to long-term injury or possibly potential limiter. Contact me if you want more details - but I'm convinced that Josh is the best.


Friday, I made my way up to NYC for a couple days. I have had some recent developments that I'll share when the time is right. I figured I'd stay the night in NYC because of Battenkill on Sunday. The trip started out chaotic and didn't stop until I got home at 4:00 AM Monday morning. I couldn't find my wallet and missed my 7:00AM bus Friday morning. I gave up looking and grabbed my passport and checkbook and was lucky to catch an 8:00AM bus. (UPDATE: My black wallet was right where I left it in a black chair at home)

After some business around the city taking up most of my afternoon I ended up at Stumptown Coffee Roasters downtown and decompressed while waiting for a new friend to show me the city and provide me a place to sleep. It was a wonderful night filled with mango margharittas, catfish tacos, dive bars, big slice pizza, swanky bars, dancing, too many cabs, and a terrible movie that I can only remember had to do with a stalker. It was the way to see NYC. The best part is, I hardly saw a fraction of what that city has to offer. Underneath that cold, dirty, pretentious place their is a city that never sleeps - and I think it's because no one wants to miss out on what it has to offer.

On Saturday, I spent way too much on brunch and then way too much at the farmer's market in Union Square. I still can't believe I spent 17 bucks on a loaf of bread and jam... granted it was fresh pecan/raisin bread and homemade peach jam. I really wanted to get something nice for the host family waiting for me up near the Battenkill race and usually my go to is wine, but how was I supposed to guess they were Catholic? Not going with the gut instinct cost me more than a good gift, but I'm not really going to talk much about Battenkill.

Union Square was the meetup point for an Anti-War rally/march along Broadway that day. I captured a couple pictures of this very moving and democratic event. I learned a lot of cool chants too that I can't get out of my head... but overall this event was a very pleasant surprise that just added to my growing affection with the city.

Stop War, Stop Terrorism, Stop Islamaphobia:

Me in 50 Years:

I caught a chinatown bus to Albany following the rally and met up with Keck Baker and Adam Switters, my host-house-house-mates. They played a joke on me telling me they forgot one of my wheels, we ate Chinese food, went (host)home, watched the Sunny King Criterium online and went to bed.

In the morning Keck cooked an awesome breakfast including steak, eggs, and oatmeal - and we watched Paris-Roubaix before heading to Cambridge for Battenkill.


I had a chance, and I missed it. It's another long-story that will replay through my head over and over until I can redeem myself. The short-story is I was bridging with 2 riders, 70 miles into the 100 mile race, that went on to place 1st and 3rd. I hesitated when they attacked the group of 7 that my move had evolved into after I had finished taking a hard pull. The field was on our heels and I was eventually swallowed up.

With 10 miles to go on the quicksand decent before the infamous Meetinghouse climb I was forced to chase after a Jelly Belly rider unclipped and drifted us both towards the ditch. I chased back on to the remaining group of about 50 riders right before the climb and came up finding myself and about 10 riders with a gap to the charging peloton. I went on a desperate two-man chase after the field with a cyclecity rider, but our effort fell short and eventually I settled into the grupetto until the finish.

The grupetto was a depressing place to be on Sunday for me. I have big aspirations, maybe bigger than realistic sometimes... but the grupetto is a place for riders who have done their job for the day and are usually unconcerned with their finishing positions. I was concerned with my result, I didn't finish the job.

I did see that person in the grupetto that did do his job - Tim Mitchell of CCB. He worked hard to bring back moves to help secure a good result for his teammate Dylan McNicholas who finished second in the field sprint. I have always noticed Tim, an exceptional time-trialist, working hard for his teammates. I saw it at Battenkill as he was part of the effort chasing me down and at Killington and GMSR last year helping Cameron Cogburn get results that definitely contributed to his eventual pro contract with Jelly Belly. To see a rider that strong in the grupetto made it clear that he had turned himself inside out for his team.

Congrats to our girls team going 1,2 in their race and to the other MABRA riders who had a great ride. Rob Sheffield comes to mind for the Cat 2 race, placing 4th - but I bet he's kicking himself too, because he and I both know he had the ability to win. And like me, I suspect he wouldn't be entirely satisfied with anything but the top step.

Finally - A picture of our strongman Russ once again getting the attention of the cameras with a first mile attack that stayed away for almost fifty miles. Be afraid of the lookback:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Race Report: Snow and Dancing Shoes.

The Morgantown Road Race was Saturday and it was amazing enough that the race even happened. I rode up with Russ Langley (seen below with his Retro Harley Flames Jersey and Dirt Bike Moto-Cross Fender). Russ looked like the Christmas present that you had to use all the remaining bits of multiple giftwrap rolls to keep from having to buy another roll. His wheels didn't even match! Russell the Hodgepodge Muscle.

We wouldn't have made it without the Element (Thanks Tom Buzas - Battley Harley Davidson). We went through a mountain pass near the MD/WV border and entered a blizzard with the all-wheel drive box car, taking on limited visibility, an ice skating rink, and inches of accumulating snow. We overtook cars laid victim in the ditches, semi-trucks that couldn't get enough traction on the uphill spinning there wheels frivolously, and a marr of accidents that the conditions had pressed it's will upon. We held hope that on the other side of the pass the skies would open up and we'd be racing.

I placed my trainer underneath the hatch of the Element to hide from the rain that waited for us at the course and started warming up when the snow started coming down. I kept warming up, today was the last chance to get a tune-up before the much anticipated Battenkill race next weekend in Cambridge, NY.

The officials and the ABRA held out hope while half the race entrants huddled into the Mason Dixon Park lodge for a thirty minute delay because it looked like this:

The snow did cease and the ensueing rain melted it quickly. Shortly after we were set free to race our bikes!

Russ was an animal for the first 30 miles until he flatted out. Up until then we had a perfect double-threat going. He would attack anytime the field would start to get content on the flats and downhills and I would attack the climbs, bridging up to Russ, and forcing the remainder of the field to chase.

Once Russ was gone we were down to eight riders. Three from GPOA (Formerly known as Indiana Regional Medical), Adam Farabaugh, and riders from Freddie Fu, Richmond Velo Sport, and CAT racing. NCVC and DC Velo were left out so we were all content enough to ride in a smooth paceline for the next ten miles. Well, I wasn't. I tried attacking a couple of short risers to pull out Adam and one of the GPOA guys hoping to better my odds, but noone was having that.

It was my last opportunity to make something happen with the final climb ten miles from the finish. I nailed it from the bottom to the top, going hard enough to encourage two riders, Freddi Fu and Richmond Velo Sport riders, to come with me up and over as the remaining riders had to set their own pace. The two riders who came with me were on board to establish our gap and despite a valiant chase from behind we eventually saw the fast approaching chase lose reach.

Due to some pre-race reconnaisance during our thirty minute delay, I was able to ride the course in reverse to pick out some good attack points during the last 3 miles of the race if it came down to a small group to avoid a sprint finish. This made the difference for me.

At 2.5 miles to go I saw my first marker, the Welcome to West Virgina sign. And as I left Pennsylvania I ramped the pace up a short hill as soon as the Freddie Fu rider came off the front and it was enough to keep him on the small step of the podium. Him and his team put in a great ride and I look forward to racing them again.

I had two spots left to attack and the Richmond Velo Sport rider, Stephen Mull, didn't look to be fading. He was a much bigger guy then me, and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to take him at the line. At the "1 mile" sign I set a high pace up a short hill to see if he could handle the pace. He could. I elbowed him through at the crest, but he remarked, "I can't go any harder". I didn't know if I had just got him to admit he didn't have it or if he was playing games with me to ride my wheel to the finish, just to jump me at the line.

Last chance. Approximately a kilometer to the line and one last double kicker hill. I had slowed up after my previous move to get him to make one more pull. As soon as he came off I sprinted up my last chance to finally see him open up a gap. I came over the top, put my head down, and mashed my way through the last 500 meters, not letting up until 100 meters to go where I got to put both hands in the air for my first race of the season.

Photo Credit: Fred Jordan

And completely unrelated to the race...

I've signed up for a free introductory class for Ballet and another for Tap Dancing later this month.

I can relate it to cycling.

Ballet will help with core muscles and balance. Tap Dancing is just intriguing thanks to exposure to Fred Astaire and feeling like I might have the same qualities evaluated of Astaire's first screen test: "Can't act. Can't sing. Balding. Can dance a little." And of course I might be taking the metaphor, "He is dancing on the pedals" a bit literally.

This could all go by the wayside due to some other upcoming developments... but I'm letting the idea dance in my head for a bit.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Still here, sort of...

Redlands isn't going to work out this year. Jefferson Cup isn't going to work out either. It's being rescheduled during the Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville, AR and Speedweek down south. The season is changing every day!

I am very excited that I'll get to go support the ABRA series in West Virgina this weekend at the Morgantown Road Race. I had a good ride there last year being bested at the line by the infamous Nick Waite. The race course is beautiful with decent climbs while being just long enough to cause attrition and selections in the outcome. It'd be fun if we could do two loops, but one will be enough as I look to prepare for Battenkill the following week. Last year I had to race on a twenty pound cyclo-cross bike. This year I'll be on my new Blue Axino full carbon frame with Zipp 303 wheels. I think I'm flirting around the fifteen pound range this time around. It also looks like I'll have some company with Sean Barrie and Russ Langley creating a stout three man roster.

I still have many things to get squared away before the season is in full swing. I have my bicycle fit pending with Josh Frick at Cyclelife and am flirting with the idea of having a body composition analysis test performed using their BodPod. I didn't start thinking about that until yesterday when discussing my weight with John Cutler. I had a caliper test done my freshmen year of college and at a skant 130 pounds I was estimated to have 3.7% body fat. Now I'm hovering around 145 and with intentions to clean up some bad eating/drinking habits, I expect it to duck down to 140 or even less. I was 155 in November and have seen my power continuously improve while still losing weight, and if I can continue to improve my power to weight ratio in a healthy way, I intend to. I'm also trying to understand how to incorporate my power meter into my training. I'm still in the "Oooo, Ahhh" phase where I just look at the numbers and try to make the numbers do what I want. Normally that requires some structure... but I've been able to have my way with it, but that romance will soon fade and I'll be wondering how the heck I'm supposed to use it as a tool, and not just a guage.

Just a few notes of late...

Haymarket Bikes is awesome. They did an awesome job putting my Blue together and it is without a doubt the best bike I've ever ridden.

Teaism is ridiculously good. The place has an awesome atmosphere and not a detail is missed in the food/drinks, decorations, and service. My goto is a chai tea, salty oat cookie, and the chicken bento box. Teaism is very supportive of the cycling community sponsoring multiple teams and being very bike friendly at their multiple locations.

Second day on the Blue I got rearended at a stoplight in DC by a Cabbie. We're damned if we run the lights, damned if we don't. We worked things out in an unusually polite and sympathetic manner and carried on.

Read The Great Gatsby. If you read it in highschool as part of assigned reading, it probably sucked, try again. If you have lived and loved at all - you will be grossly enamored with this book. I only picked it up because I heard that Baz Luhrmann, director for Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge, was going to start production of this film remake later this year. These are admittedly a couple of my favorite films and the idea that The Great Gatbsy could compare, had me invested in the tragic love story immediately.

All that said...

This a rather matter-of-fact post that I am not all that thrilled about. I've had a lot of deeper things on my mind with a lot more subtance, but significance is hard to guage and appropriateness even moreso. I just didn't want to slowly fade out completely. I'll open up eventually, but those are the turtles.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2011 Race Schedule: B-A-N-A-N-A-S

Alright, alright. I know that's a very optimistic plan and will likely endure many changes throughout the season due to overkill, illness, work, and relationships... but while my mind is excited about racing, I'll try to publish an avenue of accountability and we'll just have to see how it all pans out.

Have you seen the reg list for Jeff Cup so far? Wow. First official race of the year is going to be bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

You better bring your BANANA POWER!!!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Here we go again...

I'm moving to New York City! I'm going to work at a hedge fund in Manhattan. Training and racing will be tough, but I'll get used to it. I'll get my riding done in Central Park, Prospect Park, and on the trainer - if I can find room in the closet-sized apartment. I'll miss you all. Actually, I won't.

Don't jump to conclusions. I would miss you, but I'm not going anywhere. A week ago the above fiction was a reality for me. A lot can change in a week. Sometimes the love of your life becomes the love of part of your life. Sometimes the best professional transition isn't the best personal transition. Sometimes it's worth riding into the wind because eventually it will be at your back again. I hope.

Without further ado... It's with a tiny bit of pleasure that I reintroduce myself to the escape of writing about whatever I want, but mostly cycling, to your most poignant commentary and your "my job gives me way too much time to read this and I can't find anything better to do" readership. Be gentle. I'm not a writer. I do not proofread, and I make a lot of typos. I'll at least perform one spellcheck before publishing, but I will never guarantee proper grammar.

2011 Season

"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man." -Benjamin Franklin

Beautiful and true... but more applicable:

"Be always at war with NCVC, at peace with teammates and the turtles, and let each new year find you some NRC podiums without disgracing the sponsors by yelling at a promoter and less skin rashes" -Tim Rugg p/b Lysol

It's hard to start a new year without closing the door on last year. I wrote about almost every race I was in my first full season in 2009, but didn't write a lick last year. That was mostly due to The Mexecutioner putting me on radio silence. But hopefully I have tamed the tongue and actually have something valuable to write about every now and then. I mostly want to write again because I still read the same blogs I was reading two years ago and still appreciate their contributors enough that I'd like to try to contribute a bit myself. Last year in a nutshell: After recovering from a major medical procedure I spent the entire season trying to prove I was good enough to ride with the guys I got to ride with. I ride with the best, and I took things a bit too seriously from time to time trying to show I belonged - but I came away with a few breakthrough rides and I wasn't kicked off the team. So door closed, 2010 was successful.

I don't know how much I've matured as a bike racer mentally. Every year the goals keep getting higher and higher, and it's hard to know how I'll react pursuing, succeeding, or failing at them. Physically, I'm almost ready. Our team has a slew of talent this year and I think we're all in for a treat on where we're headed this season. Just look at Chuck... winning the Tour of Bahamas and taking on Big George to ride in style in SC, Jared winning the NC State Road Race, and Switters winning in California. It's February! And these guys are riding with little to no support! I'm anxious, but patient. I'll loosen the legs up a bit in Greenville, SC a couple weekends from now. My current job is going to make it possible for me to do a lot of NRC races this year and travel to a lot of big races. Jeff Cup is right around the corner... It's almost time to get serious. It's going to be an awesome year for racing. I'll post a schedule soon.