Sunday, May 1, 2016

Where's The Podium #25: All American - 18th

If I'm going to be honest, today was a disappointment. I could've/should've/would've done better. Like a thick fog, a certain weakness stifled my race today.

My teammates took 2nd and 3rd in our Cat4 race, and 4th in the masters-35+ Cat3/4. Awesome. I am happy that they have performed, and expect that they will be upgrading soon.

Yet, seeing/writing as how this blog is all about me... I think I should focus on my performance and result.


You know that feeling... how it feels like to be left out? - that's how it feels from this race. I was left out, and nowhere did that feel most pungent than during the post-race discussions about how good your form is and how good you are right now and how good this teammate or that teammate is .. those comments were not directed at me, nor should they have been. Don't feel sorry. Get away with that. No one congratulates, commends, or cares about my mid-pack finish - least of all me. No one cares that I was boxed-in, that I still had matches to burn, that I still felt strong during the sprint, or that the 'yellow-line rule," slow race pace, dodgy braking from other riders, or moto-ref all may have combined to keep me front doing anything to move up. No one should bend an ear to listen to my post-race recap of the final meters and how I "felt strong," "finished strong", and avoided all the near crashes for a false opportunity at a result because of this or that, and everything else. No one cares how you feel stronger this year than you did last year.

Prove it.

I hate excuses. They are worthless.

Thus, my race day ended up worthless. I will not waste your time explaining each of the four laps in great detail, but they followed a fairly expected path:
  • Lap 1: Slow pothole orientation with a heaping side of moto-ref horn-blaring - the hills were easy - I've seen these road before.
  • Lap 2: Less slow with more of the moto-ref mating call to each and every road without a center-line - this moto-ref is an ass.
  • Lap 3: Some found it fast, I found it expectedly paced. Any breakaway, I knew, would be caught and I was glad for finally having a faster pace to this lap. The moto-ref was enjoying his authority to relegating about 1/3 of the actual offenders to the "yellow-line-rule" he so passionately pursued - which is why riders kept blatantly doing pissing all over that rule.
  • Lap 4: I was focused, but expected and actually hoped for worse. For half the lap I thought the moto-ref had taken a back-seat to let the race pan out as it may, but he kept his necessary-annoyance known, and "nowhere to go" is a lock-in unless you are in the top-10 from the final turn even though I apparently inflated my final placement after the team's excited post-race chit-chat. Honest mistake, guys. I know I was better than some, but obviously not as good as I thought today.

Needless to say, my race finished with a terrible top-20. I usually leave right after finishes to these races, but I stuck around to try to soak up some of the good vibes from the WWVC results (not to mention the next wave of racers lined up right behind my car so I was stuck for the next half-hour regardless). As annoyed as I am at myself, I was happy to see my teammates enjoying their results. I decided to hang around the registration/results paddock, yet unfortunately, I was well out of place. Honestly, I did not belong with the top finishers - even though they were teammates of mine. Through no fault of their own, I had teammates talking about how good the team was, looks at me and exclaim.... "oh and that you're am a good sprinter sometimes too." Yeah... I needed to go.

That is what happens when you get complacent. That is what happens when you get lazy. That is what happens when you lose discipline, control, and self-confidence.

Complacency is a virus.

I am sick of letting myself down and hanging on to this if I am just going to tell the same story over and over again no matter how "strong" I feel.

The only truly good thing about today for me is that my car did not fail after having me run it on "zero" gas for miles on end until my gps could get me to a gas station. I need to get my oil changed, a tire replaced, and apparently a brake replaced... I smell exploitation from a grubby gas station, no?

Tomorrow looks to be a solo ride.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Where's The Podium #23-24: Carl Dolan Back-to-Back 3/4-4/5 ? unknown & 27th

Well, my teammate took victory as the top Cat4 finisher (2nd in the race overall) of the 23rd Annual Carl Dolan Spring Classic Circuit Race in the 3/4 field. Another teammate took 4th in the Cat4 results. That makes for a pretty successful outing for this team in one day.

Not to mention that the guy on the top step here also went on to race the 4/5 race with me 20min after the 3/4... we had a lot of fun!

And I mean that. I made sure to give him a hug after the 3/4 finish. When I heard he took 2nd in the sprint (totally forgetting bout how that most likely meant he took 1st in the Cat4s), I was truly proud and happy for him and WWVC.

Aside from that... I was just as happy about my performance that day. Sure, I didn't get scored for finishing the 3/4 race because the official's camera (iPad?) died after the first 10 crossed the line even though I wasn't contending the finish anyway.... Sure, I finished an abysmal 27th in the 4/5 field that in no way seems like anything out of the ordinary for me given so many of my races finishing mid-pack or worse... but believe me when I say: I had a great day of races!

Let's take both races one at a time...


Fast. Hard. Hurt. Finished mid-pack...


Less Fast. Sketchy. Finished mid-pack...


Things were fine. It was a difficult day out with my legs certainly feeling the efforts. No one would know how "active" I felt I was. Of course, it was all for naught. Nothing I did added much to the race. I hoped me bridging to a breakaway, chasing a move, or riding tempo on the front could have helped a teammate, but I think we all know in a Cat4+/- field... those efforts mean nothing. I for sure know that my teammates would have come up with their results regardless of my "efforts" - congrats to my teammates. 

I need to focus on myself.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Riding Through Early Season

It feels as thought I'm stronger and more prepared going into this season than any previous. Suffering has never felt more familiar. My training is focused and I am using what I have in front of me to get them most out of what time I have. From investing in a new training program to upgrading my bike frame, excuses are worth truly less than ever.

This post might be a rolling along a different tone than my last post singeing in the burns of a poor race outing, but I must commit to my process. Obviously, there is a lot of room for improvement. It is not difficult to point where I can make gains...

Mass. -- More on that later.

On the positive, I have made gains in other targeted areas. I am learning more about how to handle my new frame. I have noticed skills and abilities sharpened. It's as if riding with control has become a matter of second nature.

The second nature of riding should not be much of a surprise, but what makes this a point of encouragement is the depth to which I sense it now. It is maybe part of what I keeping me fulfilled when riding. My senses on the bike are solid and allow me to continue to focus on areas of opportunity for improvement.

That's a nice way of saying I still have a lot of areas to which I can improve. Paramount of which brings us to that aforementioned word: mass. Beyond natural ability, success in cycling is predicated on the age-old ratio/concept of "strength-to-weight." That ratio is something to live and die by. I mean, maybe it's not all that dire, but it is. Your max and FTP powers might be "impressive," "high," "better than the next guy," or even "elite," but its means nothing if your mass (weight) is also higher than it could be.

There is no need for me insult you by going further on this topic where others can explain it better. What I will go on to say is that the strength to weigh ratio is an area that I have had room for improvement my whole cycling career. I know that I am not alone and that others have gone to great lengths to limit this as a liability. I know of riders that have found great success through putting in effort to improve this area as much as they do to improve any number of the others.

This, now, is where I must place my focus. You all should know by now how lucky I feel to be able to ride, race, and have this as part of my life. With that, I feel I owe this life experience and myself the effort to make the most out of it that I can.

My training leading up to this season has has me put myself through things I was scared to before. I feel very much in tune with my body and the efforts I am pushing further and further. I can sense the responses my body and mind are making to efforts. What I now aim to do will go hand-in-hand with that. I have nothing to lose, and maybe some things to gain by losing mass that holds me back. My afternoon's ride setting a new max power in a sprint means nothing but a new bar to exceed.

That's enough... I have work to do.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Where's The Podium #22: Route One Rampage - 17th

The first race of the year/season/campaign/2016 push...

Honestly, not so great.

Subjectively, this race was fine. It happened. It counted. It challenged. It passed.

Objectively, it was a disaster. I mean... what do you push through 30x30's for but for races like this? What are you even making trying to train for but for races like this? And why did I not ride the 3/4 race?

If I really, honestly, objectively look back on how I raced this season opener... there is nothing to find solace in:
  • I did not line up at the front - happens, but I know better than to let that dictate anything
  • I caught up to the front group after riding hard - dropped back rather than suffer though suffering
  • I accepted defeat.
Speedbumps pitched my handlebars aggressively beyond confort.

I do not think there is much else to say. I am not very balanced as a rider right now. Power means nothing if you cannot make it work for you. Sure, I can drive hard and catch back on to groups and out sprint the riders I was with at the end, but to what success? No victory was left for me at the line. 

I know where my weaknesses lie. I am working on the self-discipline that I believe will help me achieve what I want. 

I will conclude by saying that I need to not be so afraid of things. It's getting on my nerves.

Not from race day, but I like it anyway.
Thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Instead of a Race

What was supposed to be a race weekend turned into a weekend of riding with teammates, and a good amount of hours and miles put under the legs. 73mi+ on Saturday and just under 50mi on Sunday puts this weekend's riding up a notch from the past this year.

a humble man's bike shop
It just so happened that I made the newbie mistake of registering too late - though I thought I had registered weeks ago - for the William & Mary Tidewater Winter Classic. I was put on the waitlist, and such as it is, I did not feel particularly motivated to drive down to the race and be potentially turned away from being abl to line up. Yet, my motivation to ride did not fail. I took my bicycle out in race-ready form (tubular wheels and no saddlebag) to the Clifton group ride. It always helps when teammates begin chatter on the emails about the weekend ride options. The cold was not quite deep enough to turn me away, and I wanted to try my new frame out with the carbons and sprint efforts along the way.

old bike, but with an old friend
We had good numbers at the Clifton ride. For the teammates that were there, we rode hard, communicated, took sprints from the die-hards, and enjoyed the cold outing. As motivated as I was, teammates were ready to roll as well. I put my efforts in for what I thought would be a 55-60 miles ride. They added a bit more than i anticipated. I bonked hard 65 miles on to the end. Luckily a teammate gave me a lift home to save me the uphill to my place from his, and ending with more than I was ready for is not all that bad for how fun it all was.

Sunday provided a bit of a different pace. I rode to a teammate's place and we rolled out to the roads by Mason Neck State Park for measured, interval work. It was a bit more than I expected, but it was just what my legs needed. A bit more work and effort to drive home the weekend's riding was great. Not to mention the warm, sunny 60s weather the area enjoyed. I now recline very tired, but glad with where my legs are. There is a lot of room for improvement, but I learned a lot this weekend and look forward to the races coming up.

Anyway, I want to get back in the habit of grabbing a few pictures for this place. Hopefully I'll have a few more to spruce up the posts with next time.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, February 22, 2016

On Again

Each year, this off-season mantra plays through my head again and again: "You get out what you put in".

I live life trying to get the most out of it. I have talked on here before about how fortunate I feel to be in the position that I am to even pedal a bicycle for the fun of it. I am even more fortunate to be able to compete and try again and again to win.

Looking forward to my 2016 season, I see a lot of opportunity. That opportunity comes in the form of strategy. I am planning my season upon a more focused way of racing. I will play to my strengths, and do everything I can to give myself the best chance to win.

I have to finally let go of my amazing 2011 Scott Addict R2 frame that has treated me so well over the past 5 years. I have moved to a single-season used 2015 Felt AR5 frame. I am swapping over all of my SRAM 10speed components and powermeter. Until now, I hadn't realized I do not have a good picture of the bike yet, but here it is mid-assembly.

I had some help, but I did most of the assembly myself. No one to blame but me for any mechanical failure. Having worked in a bike shop over this past summer, a lot of things have been demystified. Having a better understanding of what I need to be doing as far as maintenance and repair will go a long way for me this year and beyond.

Speaking of which, I have applied to numerous doctor of physical therapy (DPT) programs. It has been an arduous process completing prerequisites, taking standardized tests, and waiting to hear back. More on this to come, I'm sure.

Funnily enough, my support crew has gotten the itch to start racing a bicycle, herself. I don't know if it's seeing my scars, watching crashes happen less than 100m from where she has been sitting, or all of my nerdy bike-talking over the past FOUR years, but she has herself a 2015 Felt ZW5 ready to race! Note that she came to me about wanting to race... I never suggested it, but I'm all for it and am ready to throw back my 100% support her way.

One thing we both recognize is that we hope for the same thing when we ride - to have fun! For me, losing sight of that serves no one any good. I like to think that having fun is what keeps me riding.

I'll finish this post by sharing a rider on the other side of the globe that I find to epitomize what having fun on the bike is all about. I discovered Mark Ferguson of "Cycling Maven"'s vlogs on YouTube recently and have not stopped watching. His channel and following has been growing, and I hope you all can see what I mean when you check out his videos. From racing tips and in-race footage, to rider interviews and life-style commentary, Mark shares with his viewers a lot of what makes him fulfilled in life and the cycling culture he loves in Melbourne, Australia. Check out his channel here: YouTube - Cycling Maven.

Thanks for reading. I hope to be touching base here more often. I've got biology class in less than an hour.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Where's The Podium #21: Dawg Days Circuit Race 3/4 - Last(?)

This race... I'm not sure what I can say...

I fought hard, dug when I could, held my lines, and came up lacking in the last lap. I am frustrated, but no finger pointing except to myself. How much did I want this? How much did I want to risk in this pack? Sure, there was sketchiness and ridiculous riding on all sides, but my tactic to stay safe and ride opportunities when I could held strong for me until I faded in the last lap. I saw other team moves going and willed my legs to follow as best they could. I really stepped off of the gas in the last lap when I realized two things:
  1. I was not going to win this race from where I was - edged out to in 20th+ spot after avoiding crashing into other riders swaying from their lines and squeezing their brakes.
  2. I don't trust anyone around me - I've crashed enough this season. Seriously.
I did, however, decide to take pictures of my race experience - except during the race itself. Naturally.

I race...

26.3 mi/h average
182 hr average
98 rpm cadence average

I don't think there's much else to say. I will have to make up for this one. It's leaving a really bad taste in my mouth. I will keep riding and continue to drop weight for next season.

Thanks for reading.