Life On Two Wheels

Along the river and toward the mountains a morning shadow shimmers across the road. The rays of the first light jet through the trees and across a figure gliding upon the road. His breath trails in short spurts, petrified as it hits the icy air. All is quiet except the slight sound of the athlete as he summons himself for yet another days work. Soon the rest of the world will bustle with life as well and the brief simplicity of cyclist and nature will disappear into the everyday struggle of life in full motion; the errands and intervals, the appointments and intersections, and the deadlines and finish lines OutPaceTheRace

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Racing at the "national level"

Champion, PN- Seven Springs Resort
Tuesday, July 11, 2006

We went out for an hour and a half to re-preview the time trial course one last time before the race tomorrow. I like it more and more as I preview it more, but it’s getting more technical too. This was the first time that I rode it on my time trial bike so the course was a little faster on the faster bike. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so that’s gonna add a bit of a twist to an already fast & twisty course. Today while I was riding down from the condo, to the tt course, something quite rare happened; in fact I don’t recall it ever happening. I was going so fast that I couldn’t pedal, probably around 50-55 mph, in the aero position and everything, and I got a rear flat. I stopped and my front tire blew up, it sounded like a shotgun or something. A car happened to drive by as it happened and I briefly thought they’d opened fire as they went by. Then they stopped, and I was about to make a run for it, when I noticed that the tire had blown from my front wheel. They gave me a ride back up to the condo where I got a new pair of wheels (which I gave a thorough check-up before departing again) and headed out for round two. Kind of an odd experience, not one you look forward to in the future.

Champion, PN- Seven Springs Resort
Monday, July 10, 2006

Today was the road race, it was an incredible course and it absolutely blew the field to pieces. The first lap a group of three went away with one of our guys in it (Steve), then the gap between the three of them and us grew to 6 minutes. On the third lap we began attacking on the way up the flatter of the two significant climbs. This did serious damage to the field and probably lowered it to some 30 guys. Blake got away by himself during his attack and hovered 3 minutes away from the 3 person break. Through the feed zone Craig and I were at the front of what was left of the field (about 8 guys or so), I was at the front and Craig was right behind me. While we were grabbing bottles a small gap opened behind Craig and JV said to drill it as hard as possible, so after getting my feed I went all out and hung on to Craig as did likewise. We caught the group of three in some 30 minutes. Steve had been sitting on after he learned that we were bridging up to them. So when we caught them, he attacked. Then over a little hill Craig attacked and Brent went with him. On the same hill I attacked and tried to bridge up to Craig. I could see Craig and Brent for a while. Craig was sitting on Brent as Brent chased Steve. In the end Craig attacked Brent and caught and passed Steve for the win. Brent caught and passed Steve for second and Steve ended up third. The two guys that I’d dropped caught me on the way up the hill and beat me in a little sprint for fourth.
I think the race went excellently. Craig was extraordinarily strong, and he raced the race perfectly. I learned a lot just watching how he played the race. I think though it would’ve been nice to get the fourth and have three guys on the podium, but I only had a gel throughout the entirety of the race and paid for it on the way up the last climb. Getting caught by the two of them, who happened to be sprinters, on the way up the climb was pretty stupid. If I’d eaten a little more I may’ve been able to catch and sit on Brent as Craig attacked, but if you never make the mistakes then you can’t learn from ‘em. You can’t race a race like that in the heat and not eat without ending up with some issues towards the end. In the meantime, I think Craig and Steve will have a good shot at winning the time trial, Blake too. Maybe if I can get in the rhythm I can do pretty good too, but it’s pretty technical, so we’ll see.

Champion, PN- Seven Springs Resort
Sunday, July 9, 2006

Last day before the road race, I did an easy 2.5 hours checking out the time trial course. It’s a pretty interesting course really, much like the rest of the area. Completely rolling, no sustained hills or descends. The joke is that you’re either descending or ascending the whole time- which is true in part, but usually that refers to big climbs and big descents. I guess it’ll be super hard to get into a rhythm now, before it was just marginally hard- pretty much the reason why I generally time trial poorly. It’s a really nice sample of the area though; fields of corn, old country roads, through the woods, by little rivers and streams, it’s quite nice. As usual though, I won’t have much of a chance to check it out.
But tomorrows the road race not the time trial, the course appears to be pretty intense. Up and down all day, much like the time trial. I guess it’s got some pretty good climbing sections though. It’ll be interesting to see how it turns out. The two previous races seem to have blown up pretty good, so I presume the same will be the case for out race…

Champion, PN- Seven Springs Resort
Saturday, July 8, 2006

Adjusting to Eastern Time is always an effort. It never fails to totally catch me off guard- of course that’s a bit bizarre considering I knew it was coming, but how can you actually go about changing that? Wake up three hours early, or go on your ride right when you wake up. Both alternatives seem somewhat unreasonable. The cold turkey method is always available in the end, so that’s almost always the method of choice… Just arrive on the east coast to race and you’re forced to adjust, good times.
The resort here is pretty swanky, pretty similar to a Park City style ski resort except there’s not much history here. One day they decided that it was time for a ski resort to be made atop this little hill, and voila, it’s here. Maybe I’d say its closer to Alpine Valley in Wisconsin, just because there’s no mountain. No big deal though, it’s just for skiing right? Despite the lackluster of 7 springs, the roads and surrounding terrain are absolutely amazing. It’s hard to find a road that’s not good; you’d have to ride on the turnpike or something. But the terrain is what’s caught me off guard the most, there’s not a single hill here that doesn’t require grinding a slow standing cadence in the 23. Who ever heard of hills in Pennsylvania? Maybe just not me… I saw the elite road race go by today, there were only like 20 guys left in the pack, looks like it’s just gonna blow up.

Champion, PN- Seven Springs Resort
Friday, July 07, 2006

Today was one of travel… I woke up at 4:50 to make the 6:45 departure. I was startled by the amount of airport traffic, apparently everyone’s going on summer vaca ‘cause I missed the mandatory 45 minute prior to departure check in rule, but they “let me slip by this time…” Oooo, United Airlines lay’n the smack down again, watch out or they’ll charge you $85 for the bike while they’re at it… They did show a lame movie with a complementary lame headset and bag of snack mix. Of course this was a 3 hour and 20 minute flight, US Airways only shows one movie to Europe… I think there’s some snack mix to go with that too…
Something unusually odd did happen during my flight though. We took off and the captain announced that it’s okay to unfasten the seat belts. I’m sitting at a window seat, and the lady in front of me reaches her book around the seat so I could see it and mumbles some gibberish about how there’s gum on her book and I put it there so I need to take it off!? I was at a loss for words, I ended up letting her know that she’s a zany old whack & she needs to keep her gum and worthless book to herself. Some people are totally off the wall…