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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.