Monday, December 19, 2011

For The Holidays: Me


A wish list shouldn't be made out of the same materialistic monotony so many make year after year. Rather, a wish list should be created out of a grandeur beyond things you feel too vain to go out and spend your own money on. My wish list lies somewhere between beauty pageant hopes of utilitarianism, (It's a post Kim Jong Il world, y'all!) and more courage in my quest of reaping the benefits of tasteful, shameless self-promotion. Now, I know that may seem like a tall order, but sip away at this cocktail and I'm sure you'll find my intentions are pure and simple.

Ever find yourself at a loss as to how you can make a difference in people's lives?

Not me.

In fact, I have found that by being myself (some of the best advice I've gotten), I can make friends, find success, and go beyond my wildest dreams. Well, I haven't found that last part yet, but the potential is potent. For those that don't know me... put me on your wish list.

There's a lot to me that probably no one person realizes. I have a smart side, a goof side, a party side, a let's get things done side, a dumb side, a "I feel fat" side, a "I've never felt better" side, an annoying side, a nerd-out side, a dork-out side, a hermit side, a passionate side, a idgaf side, an insecure side, and a side or two that I probably don't even realize are there. So, looks like we're on the same page.

What more could this Johnny, John, JohnnyBrison, Johnny B., Johntacular, Clark Kent, Superboy, Chooran, JohnnyCocaine, ,JohnJohn, have in store for everyone!?!?!!? It's anyone's guess, you see.

You surely know of my blog here, but do you know of my other blogs and blog-style sites!?!?! I do keep them separate as I have found that each carries a different vibe that I feel necessary to keep apart from one another. Yet, I am finding myself with a certain yearning to show people more of who I am. It's nothing personal, but I choose to not share a lot of my other interests because I don't think there will be a certain level of understanding or respect for me ... wait... yeah that's called feeling insecure.

I was a rather quiet young person. Insecure? Definitely. Nowadays, I really enjoy socializing and finding new ways to relate to different people. It's a realization that this life is all that I can be certain of and there cannot be any time that I feel I am wasting it. What I like to do with my time is not what you might like to do, but we're here to be different and me putting more of myself out there for you all, though it may seem risky, is something I want to do.

That being said, if you search "JohnnyBrison" on Google you might find more of me than you may expect. But instead of you all taking the time to do all of that, I thought I might as well drop you some links and a brief description of each as I see them. You can click, enjoy, follow, subscribe, join me, forget me, laugh, make fun of, shrug, fall in love with, or do anything you choose to do with the following links. Not my problem.

Blogger ... oh yeah; where you're reading this.

  • Twitter ... this is where I follow cyclists and friends that have taken up twitter. I am reserved, but open to the point that I will tweet drunk and it is what it is.
  • Tumblr #1 ... scroll through and click to see more... scroll through and click to see more. This is my passion of cycling manifested through pictures, words, ideas, and the internet. Tumblr allows me to experience and understand more about the sport of cycling that I love. This blog will dive into a few personal thoughts of mine that I keep from other outlets on the internet, but you see... this one has a theme.
  • Tumblr #2 ... now, this one may blow your mind a bit. I have only shown this to a few select people. I am one that appreciates a lot that goes on in this world and have no other way of adequately showing it or cultivating it until tumblr. This tumblr blog has more vanity to it than I will ordinarily express, but life is short and I will not ignore my appreciation of what I see as beauty, inspiration, and what I sometimes don't understand.
  • Youtube #1 ... some of you may have seen these videos before, but here you are. I hope to have more on the way, but my time for video making has been sent in another direction, though I do not want this one to pass away.
  • Youtube #2 ... some of you may know about this collaboration, but I'm very happy to be a part of it. I hope you subscribe and enjoy more of these that we will be making! 
  • Vimeo ... it's kind of the same as my youtube#1 account.
  • LookBook/Chictopia... full disclosure, people. Yes, I have profiles in each, but I'm no longer updating them, and I am allowing those to pass, though I do sometimes find some inspiration there.

Wow, that was more than I anticipated. Feel free to do what you will with this information. And again, feel free to Google "JohnnyBrison" to see what you're missing in life. I hope that I haven't offended, scared, scarred, or somehow lost anyone with all of this about me. I'm not trying to beat you over the head about me, but please remember that this blog is more for me than it will ever be for you.* Don't take it personally, just know that it's personal... to me... so, me talking more about me is my way of allowing myself to drop the insecurities and know that there is not a thing to be afraid of when I feel like expressing more of who I am. It's like a "I don't want to wast any more time feeling like I have things to hide."

Thank you for reading. If you clicked on one or more of those links, I am forever grateful. I'm nothing special,  just someone that knows I can get away with a lot. If you have any questions... never hesitate to ask me at johnnybrison@gmail.com . I'm getting sleepy and I look forward to tomorrow and the holidays ahead. J. Crew is a little craycray, but I'm enjoying it.

* I really don't expect this post to cause much of a stir.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Worst Foot Foward

I've got no choice in the matter, friends. My right foot/ankle has taken me out of commission (of sorts). You see, if anything touches just below my right ankle a shooting twitch of intense pain, as if a knife is slicing my foot from the inside out, happens and I cannot take another step until pressure is relieved and time for me to recover happens. I imagine it to be a nerve, tendon, obscurely annoying kind of injury I sustained whilst running/jumping around for work.

Thing is, this injury is a non-factor for work as long as I do not have any footwear touching that right ankle of mine. Thus, my solution:
These Sperry Top-Sider kicks are THE only kicks I can wear... at all. I mean unless I just flatten the heels of every right kick I have... this is it. Although, some might've thought it a fashionable statement to wear one wingtip and one sandal at work, I could not allow that to go on for too long.

What is going on for too long is this foot issue. I may have to visit the doctor again, but I really can't imagine what he would be able to do for me. I think I'll just let it be, hope nothing hits/rubs/touches/thinks of touching my right ankle and eventually this will get better.

What is really getting me upset about this foot/ankle issue is that I cannot ride my bike. I'm not about to try and train with one Northwave cycling shoe clipped in and a Sperry/sandal on the other foot. Nope... not gonna happen; and it sucks. I miss my bike.
But, hey! I'm a realist and a moderate optimist... it's not all that bad. I can still work and make money. I absolutely love my job and am happy with life these days. I've said it before, but feeling appreciated for the hard work that I put into my job means a lot to me and I hope to keep it up. This aforementioned issue will pass and that bike is a patient being in my life. I am making friends and doing things that I enjoy. The bike will never leave me.

I'm thinking about that tattoo I've been wanting to get.


Thanks for reading. Anyway, for those that know of my cycling goals for this next year... who knows what will happen, but the realist in me outweighs the optimist. I will do my best and ride when I can. I have a few things in my queue that I want to get after in the new year. You'll see.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hello Again

Yeah, yeah... it's been a while. With that said, changes have happened to me and my youthful life here in NoVa.  I wouldn't imagine that these changes are anything momentous like marriage, expecting a kid, or other silly adult things. Yet, having a job that I appreciate while feeling the appreciation in return is a pretty big thing for me. I do not know what the future of it all holds, of course, but as long as I feel like I am in the right place and can continue developing myself and the things I want, I am in no rush to be anywhere else.

Where am I? Well, I am working at that J. Crew I mentioned before in Tysons Galleria and enjoying it a lot. It might be my low-key o.c.d., my personable manner and attitude, or just some good timing and luck that has me at this J. Crew, but I feel big things are happening. Some weeks, I put in over 40 hours and am happy to do it. Some days I feel so tired, but ever satisfied with how much effort I put into the work, system, organism, that is this J. Crew. I was originally trained as a men's sales associate, but have become more of the store director's assistant. When changes need to be made, when moves must happen, when cleansing is critical, I am among the go-to for those necessary actions to take place and I love it. Some days are tough, while others are a welcome respite from the hustle.

I don't suppose I have made any enemies at work, and darn-it... I sure hope I never do. The people I work with are an interesting, fun bunch. I'm not about to rate anyone here, but the faves know who they are. Anyway, like I've mentioned, changes are on the way to this store and things are going to continue their upward trend here. I may be meeting the CEO, Mickey Drexler, next week as well since apparently he will be helicoptering around the area. Now, that does mean that the store will have to look all pretty and proper. tomorrow and the next day = a hustle.
Some emerging opportunities are happening for me and I don't want to miss out. I won't allow it, but more on that later.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Johnny Interviews; Johnny's Hired

I feel I am very much overdue for a post here. I am in the middle of some transitioning right, but in a good way. See, I have just landed a new job at J. Crew. Seriously after not even 2 minutes of an interview with the store director, I was hired on the spot and tossed into training for mens sales that night. Actually "that night" was this night (or last night, really). So, that's an interview, hiring, and 4 hour crash-course training in mens sales all in one day. This J. Crew store at Tysons Galleria in McLean, Virginia is a very big one for J. Crew. This locations gets some exclusive pieces of the line that 99% of the other stores do not. Does that make me part of "the 1%"? I think, in some third-party way, yup.

I have been hired as a sales associate exclusively for mens clothing and am very excited at the huge leap forward my wardrobe just took. The store director that interviewed and hired me said they have never hired anyone as quickly as they did me, (1 minute interview and all) saying she recognized an attitude from me that would sell clothes well! (I don't know what she meant exactly, but I'm happy to have it.) I am trying to absorb as much as I can from the four hour crash-course training I just had and the further immersion I will have tomorrow morning. I have told them that I am available any time they need me, but hopefully I can work some time off to watch some cyclocross racing at DC Cross this Sunday, and definitely time to hit up my beloved IUP for Halloween weekend. We'll see. That means "no promises." Anyway, I've been working on a few new "channels" of blogging and have been making strides to begin more shameless "self-promotion." I don't know if I will drop any/all the details of that here just yet, but we'll see how shameless I will get you all can handle.

Here is a video from my YouTube channel (TheJohnnyBrison) and it is a step in the direction I want my videos to take. Realize that this is me putting myself out there more than I am usually comfortable as the audience I have here is not exactly the audience my videos and some of my other self-promotions are intended, but it wouldn't be shameless if I didn't just embrace it... or have you all embrace it whether you or I like it or not.

Hope you enjoyed it enough. I'm still learning how to effectively put these things together at a pretty fast pace. Feedback would be appreciated, but constructive would be best. I'm my own worst critic, and I know I'm putting myself out there more. It is what it is. I am very proud to be working not only for J. Crew, but this particular one and hope that any of you all that will be in the area and possible looking for some wardrobe additions and updating will not hesitate to visit the store! I would love to help you fide everything you need.Thanks for reading. Thanks for watching.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Off-Season '11 Thoughts and Possibilities

I wonder where writing might take me. Sure, I enjoy spilling out whatever comes to my head on here and other various medias that many don't know about, (nothing weird, just my more ways to not annoy everyone; like dividing through different ways of expressing all the things I enjoy) but I'd really enjoy making a bigger impact with what I am capable of writing. That is to say, I really do keep myself in check here and branching out or expanding it would be liberating. I want a creative project; something to put some impassioned effort into. You know, the kind that burns the night oil.

When I was making those videos (#1 & #2) for IUP's cycling club, I really had a lot of fun with them and put a lot of time and effort into them. I love that perfectionistic side of me that comes out in such instances. It really does have an impact on me that I want to get after.
This is going to be a long off-season and I want to make the best of it. At this point, I am looking to get work and though I may find some, I need to keep on top of not only my fitness, but also things that keep me enjoying life outside of cycling and striving to keep creative and pushing myself.

At this point, I think I will merely leave it at this and ponder accordingly. I'm excited to explore possibilities, but who knows what will come of this idea, if anything. (This next section you may choose to read might indeed spark that something.)


Anyway, I filled out and turned in an application to work at J. Crew today in Tysons Galleria in McLean, VA as a sales associate. Upon turning in the application that I was able to fill in at the Betsey Johnson store where a good, newly engaged friend of mine works, the initial interview with the store manager went well and, according to her, I should be having a follow-up meeting with the store director early next week while they put through my background check. I don't imagine it will be an easy job, but I was eager to point out that I was hoping to get as many hours as I could before, during and after the holiday season. I hope they are okay with a somewhat blank canvas as far as I go for selling clothes. Sure, I've had my experience in stores plenty of stores (ex gf much? amirightfellas?), and selling clothes does seem like something that I could become good at, (especially since I really like the clothes) but that'll be for them to decide. As much as I like shopping, I'm picky (some might say frugal) and never seem to have enough money to justify spending too much on clothes. However, I did drop a bit on a few J. Crew purchases investments last week. Apparently, since I can now fit into a size x-small button-up, I can take advantage of sales where others cannot and I totally showed that investment off for my first impression inside the store whilst dealing with that application. I'm rambling, but I'm excited about this prospect!
Yet, in my mind, this optimistic prospect is multifaceted for the following reasons:

  • J. Crew is my favorite clothing brand,
  • I enjoy clothes a lot, though I don't have enough to justify that claim,
  • I need work and money from exchanging my time for that work -  redundant (this probably should have been on top of the list),
  • I will have more opportunities to be social this way; new people to meet, be around, and maybe hang out with,
  • If I'm going to work retail... this would be my first choice (oh yes, more so than a bike shop),
  • I do enjoy fashion with a hope that I can dip myself into it with my own style (I have my opinions on what you wear),
  • Employee discount, and
  • It'll be a new experience.

And with new experiences come new opportunity. In my wildest dreams... I am successful in more ways than I can allow myself to share here. This job might not be a fit for me, but I'm going to give it a try if they give me a try.  And you know what... it's not lost on me that I could enjoy this job and find success. Being around clothes that I really like might lead to me accepting some of the days that will be tough, but really... I'm not finding it hard to be optimistic about this. I'm thinking there will be enough time for them to train me and get me ready for this holiday season and the craziness that will ensue. I know I lack some of that experience, but I'm young, impressionable, I've graduated college, and I kind of really want to be in that mix. Bring it on, Black Friday shoppers.
They have to hire me for any of this to make much sense. I'll keep you posted. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jeremiah Bishop's Alpine Loop Gran Fondo

This inaugural Alpine Loop Gran Fondo was brought to the public by Cannondale Factory Racing rider, Jeremiah Bishop. This route just so happens to be his favorite training ride and there is no doubt in my mind that it gives him the kind of tough, dependably difficult ride that a competitor of his caliber needs to stay on top of his overall training. Beyond the excitement Jeremiah must have felt at the opportunity to share his favorite ride with so many fellow cyclists, the real purpose and pride of Jeremiah Bishop's Alpine Loop Gran Fondo was, and will continue to be, a ride to raise awareness and support for prostate cancer. To learn more about his and the "Prostate Cancer Awareness Project" initiative, do visit 29000men.org.
Proud of my accomplishment and my legs for that day!
Having finished the ride, I was all smiles. There was a lot about this ride that challenged me in ways I have not so acutely faced (9,300+ ft of climbing for one ride). Yet, I surprised myself in a way that I am proud to write about; suffering with 130 other riders in this challenging and rewarding event.

Overall, I finished 12th. In my age group (18-24) I finished 2nd. My legs found a rhythm on those climbs like I hadn't seen since the Morgantown Road Race and Penn State at the Nittany Cycling Classic. Those were climber's races and this was no different, except that people I was passing on the climbs gave me words of encouragement to keep pushing on and keep driving for strong finishes on each ascent. I either thanked people or tried to pop a joke to spring a smile while we ticked away to the finish.
Here's my Alpine Loop. (Missed turn much? Though, I wasn't the only one.)
The course was, of course, hilly. But what scared me the most were the descents. I am a poor descender to begin with, but at least this was not a race. Remembering this fact helped me not take any uncomfortable unnecessary risks. With hands cramping and the threat of running into the back of some cars let alone off the side of the road or smack into some oncoming cars through blind turns, I made it down those hills like everyone else, and at least I was warned before some sketchy sections. Large yellow "Danger" signs preceded those sections and though I ended up despising the sight of them, (in a "oh what could be coming next!?!" kind of way) they prove to be just an example of how well this event was thought out and supported. Through personal contributions of Jeremiah Bishop and, no doubt, many valuable volunteers, the route was well marked, the riders were well fed, and the suffering was well worth it.

My Strava profile from the ride (my first "epic") indicates how well I felt going up each of those climbs. I didn't know what to expect beyond suffering. The climbs seemed to keep going, and not knowing how far they went after the next turn or what it would feel like climb a dirt/gravel/mud ascent with a difficult average gradient could be construed as a significant disadvantage. Yet, my legs just didn't seem to mind as they slotted into a rhythm and pumped away. Even between the major ascents and descents, I was feeling strong and able. At different points I helped drive a high pace with other riders and even rode away from and passed groups out on the road driving to the finish. I was in a rhythm and did not want to wait any longer than I had to to get across that finish line.

I was careful to keep eating my Nutri-Grain and Cliff bars between rest stops as well as my bottles topped off with liquids throughout the ride. Those rest stops were great to have as fully-stocked, calorie and endurance specific refueling stations for everyone. Experience told me to make sure I left Bryan's car with enough in my pocket to fend for myself against the distance and grueling unknown. Bryan, of course was my ride, and I want to toss full props to him for lugging me back and forth with full participation in the loop; encouraging me to do it in the first place. We both really enjoyed the day and I will say we are looking forward to next year's event. Though neither of us paid too much attention to the "King Of the Mountains"(KOM) competition in preparation for the ride, we now are looking forward to putting our best legs forward in those two sections next year. I will also make sure I don't miss a turn mid-way through the ride either as Bryan and I both missed turns and added to our loop accordingly, though not at the same time.
Doing my best to finish strong after a long dirty climb. (soleport flickr)
Thanks to Jeremiah Bishop for putting on this encouraging event and all the volunteers and riders that back his part in the Prostate Cancer Awareness Project. I had the opportunity to share a few words with him during the ride as he slipped back through the field to chat and personally thank the riders that showed up for his event. After telling him how I could see this event growing from year to year, he shared the optimism in stating his hope that the ride double in size next year. His excitement throughout the event was infectious and I plan on being a part of this for years to come.

Mid Atlantic Timing results show the overall times and where the results lie (missed turns not factored).

I only wish I could train like this all the time (or for races of this nature)... I really could get used to it. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gator(skin) Wrestling

This is pretty self-explanatory. You've all been here. Now, I don't know if it's my weak, end of season arms or that these are the toughest tires I've ever put on my wheels, but I hope you at least enjoy the music... and my boredom.
The reason I got these continental gatorskin tires is that Alpine loop Gran Fondo I'm doing this Saturday.

Song: Little Joy - No One's Better Sake

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Off Season Plans

What might I be able to do now that my races have died down? I have had two offseasons in my young cycling career and each one has been has monotonous, yet rewarding as they could be. This offseason, however, may prove to be a more challenging endeavor. At IUP I had a gym, and consequently a rowing machine, at my disposal. Here, I have to figure out how I am going to get myself to a rowing machine.

If you haven't guessed, I swear by the rowing machine for my cross-training. As much as I would enjoy cyclocross... and not enjoy running or swimming, I really believe that rowing gives me the best low-impact, full-body workout that simply cannot be matched. My legs are engaged in a full range of motion work with arms, abs, back, lung and heart work that I really find painfully addictive. At IUP, I would work on that machine for up to 4 hours to build my base and keep my effort in lengthy check as I would dream of hitting the finish lines first.

That's the goal, of course. Payoff for the less than glamorous offseason work off the bike is what I'm after. I already know, pending some unforeseen disaster, that I will be stronger next season. I just need to put in the time like I have before. It's all up to me.

This bad boy glides at over $1000

That's the kind of pressure I want to put on myself. I need it. But... do I need a rowing machine?
I kind of feel like I might. Does this make me a "creature of habit," a "superstitious person," or a "real big idiot"? I'm not sure, but I think I will go with my gut on this one. Then again, I also have to go with my budget. You all should know that my summer job of riding around Fairfax County roads and neighborhoods tossing larvicide ends by mid-October and I will be needing a job to continue after that. My budget my be pressuring me to look for something more like this...
Solid.
I guess I wouldn't be sinking if I had that contraption under me, but I'm going to try and make this purchase as an investment not only for my cycling, but future offseasons as well.

I'll figure something out. In the meantime, I have some cycling to keep my legs moving. As I think about it, I believe I will have 3 events for the next 3 months that will have me challenging myself.

  1. September: Jeremiah Bishop's Alpine Loop Gran Fondo. This ride is famed to be the toughest Gran Fondo in the United States as it will cover 95 miles and about 11,000 ft of climbing. It really didn't take much for me to be convinced to do this by local rider Bryan Esposito today. I am looking forward to it and I know I will feel the pain of some serious climbing September 24th.
  2. October: The Florida State Road Race Championships October 30th is a real possibility for me to try and do. Reason being, I have family living in Florida that I haven't visited in a long time (not without my bike, mind you) and since my summer job will be over by then; I figure why not? I don't know what to expect other than some fast, flat road riding, but I could find good legs there too.
  3. November: Pittsburgh's Dirty Dozen is something that I have wanted to do for a few years now. If you don't know about this unique race, do yourself a favor. 13 of Pittsburgh's steepest, toughest climbs will leave a mark and I want it.
I must highlight a common thread amongst each of these events. I really do not expect anything as far as results go. Sure, I would be elated if I do well at them, but that isn't the goal. The goal, as ever, is to have fun with other cyclists and to challenge myself doing events that I haven't been able to before now. I've got nothing to lose and I'm as young as I'll ever be. We'll see what happens with a lot of things that may or may not happen in the nest few months. I can do nothing but do my best and not worry about what I cannot control while enjoying and making the best of the opportunities that I am given.
Watched the ascent of this, the Alto de L'Angliru today at the Vuelta.

Clearly, I am already looking forward to next season as I plan my offseason. I've been losing weight too.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Keeping Touch

Tonight is the night that Hurricane Irene is making herself felt along the east coast of the US. It's now just after 11pm and the news is telling us that, at least for the DC area, the worst of the storm is on our doorstep leaving only hours and hours of rain to fall. We lost power for maybe about an hour and I certainly expected it to remain out for longer, but I guess we hit some luck ad I know others have lost theirs and will not regain it for some time. Bummer.

I was expecting all of this to be worse, but that's what one will get when they pay too much attention to the fanatical new channels. Ratings are one thing they are after and as I surf the tv channels, I am entirely unamused by coverage from anchors risking it all reporting from boardwalks to a wedding that will understandably not fall victim to this tropical plague. Beyond taking time to reflect on this storm, I've had some time this weekend to tend to other things and have some time to think. Interested?
Been losing weight too.
This summer has put me in some perspective that I cannot complain about and refuse to drift to any "what-ifs." As an admitted realist, (whatever that means) I cannot accept much more than what is in front of me. I am a lucky kid able to live with my parents as the search for a job continues. I have a dog that love me unconditionally and a bike that refuses to give up on me through any personal obstacles or whatever else I put myself through. My summer have been full of bike riding, though with a few bumps on that road, and I am looking forward to next season and how my form will be improved. Similarly, I have met a lot of new people and friends through my bike this summer and am certainly looking forward to continuing and growing those relationships into next year. Though nothing substantial has materialized in the job search, I am optimistic about it all and will not allow myself to worry. Yet.

Wow. At this hour, there are more than 70,000 people without power in Virginia due to Irene. I am counting my blessings. Still.
Sweet Sally doesn't like storms.
Has anyone else been reading this summer? I've rad a few good books. Namely, I have gotten into author Stieg Larsson's trilogy series of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I have just finished the second book and am reading Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho while I wait for the last of Larsson's trilogy to arrive from AbeBooks. I am falling in love with reading. It helps me keep away from the computer screen and occupy my time in that unique way books seem to do. You know.

I'm still channel surfing and though all the experts are weighing in and analysis of Irene's path continues, it seems DC is politely ushering our tropical guest northward. Pleasantly underwhelmed.
I got a call this week from a temp/temp-to-hire agency and will be meeting with a pleasant sounding employee of theirs to help me find some work in the next week or two. I'm excited at the prospect of the opportunity, and am thinking some temporary temp work could do me some good. I have  not worked in an office environment and the hook-ups I'm likely to get from this agency will give me that needed experience before I am tossed into it all at once. I can't imagine it being very difficult, (uhm... there are a lot of people in the office work life) but I'm just trying to make the best of this situation. Realistic?

I'm now being distracted by international track and field competitions on NBC's Universal Sports and am realizing that this rant should come to an end soon. I intend to ride with teammates and local riders tomorrow after the rain stops (at the latest) around noon (so predict those ever-vigilant meteorologists). I ended up riding on my trainer today and played xbox while I did for an hour and a half until the power cut out. I guess I could have kept going, but my bum hurt, (from sitting up and having more weight on it than usual for sure) and seeing my time on the bike was a minute past the hour and a half mark, I thought it fair to stop. Thinking about it, I probably should have kept going. My mom made chocolate chip cookies and my weakness for those was much worse than this Irene situation. Can't complain.

Thanks for reading this idiocy. Really.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Where's The Podium? #15: Tour de Millersburg

This August weekend of racing was one that I will be looking forward to coming back to for years. I will just start this all by mentioning how warm, welcoming, and fun the whole town and host families made this event for me and my teammates.
Part of the drive up to Millersberg, PA
Heading to this weekend Whole Wheel Velo brought GC contender, Andrew Shelby, GC alternate, Chris Gould, and a supporting cast of riders including Chris "Ladies-Man" Hall, Joe "Numbas" Mazza, and myself. The weekend of racing began with a 9.5 mile individual time trial.

Andrew and Chris G. were the only from our team that aimed to make their mark on the time trial course, placing well above that aforementioned "supporting cast" of WWVC riders, Chris Hall, Joe, and me. With Andrew sitting 7th and Chris G. 12th, we looked to the criterium ahead of us that afternoon.

Shelby was strong again and able to continue his good showing in the criterium. With a last lap attack, Andrew was coursing through a corner with, as he described, "2mph too much speed," and almost wrecked over a high curb. This near wreck sapped a bit of the mayonnaise from his attack, though he finished the race with a strong mid-pack placement and enough points to have him tied for 8th or 9th going into the final day and road race.
Good morning, bikes of Whole Wheel.
I dearly wish I could have stayed in that  criterium race and been of some assistance to Andrew on that last lap. We all did... but for me, I had known this whole season that I have not been able to stick in these races with the Cat 3 fields, and I simply had to cut my losses again an focus up for the final stage.
Breakfast with Joe Mazza and a ghostly Chris Gould.
The road race was a 54 mile one with three laps of 18 miles to cover. Andrew had a mind to find an ally or two to somehow form a breakaway and possibly climb on the GC ladder with a strong finish and placement. Turns out, he did just that. Unbeknownst to me and Chris hall, the only two other WWVC racers left in the peloton at this point in the race, Andrew had actually broken away with another rider about 4 miles into the last lap. This caused some serious confusion for Chris Hall and I, but only after the race was over.
Me in the road race next to one of those juniors... they loved to throw attacks - I loved to crush their dreams.
As a teammate, I believe I worked well to monitor the front. I rode tempo, shut down breaks, recovered, rode more tempo, shut down more breaks, and recovered some more with a mind to Shelby sitting in the pack. I was doing my job as best I could and with pointers from experienced rider, Pete Custer, in mind. My work was all to be done in moderation and with Andrew, the protected rider, in mind. I really enjoyed this race and doing my best to read it, I kept in mind the riders on the front, the riders to watch, teammates, and myself and how I felt. This is turning into a lot of different aspects of the race on my mind, and I thought I was keeping up well enough.  In this case, however, ignorance was not entirely bliss, but disaster was certainly avoided, but more on that in a bit...

I'll note now that this 18 mile loop was not the most difficult, and it showed; I was in it at the end. The hills were not enough to shake me and though it rained during our race, (which I actually enjoy) having a rolling enclosure that allowed for the whole use of the road for most of the course made a huge difference for everyone to be able to move throughout the peloton. My intake of two gels, plenty of water with nuun tablets, and one cliff bar throughout the race proved to be enough for my efforts. Again, with all the activity that I was a part of on the front, I had fun and knew when I needed to recover and how to ride the different sections. I am happy knowing this and I was really hoping that my efforts last weekend at the Tour of Page County would slide over like they had here.

Andrew had indeed gone up the rode with another rider with most of the third lap to grind away. Chris informed me that, after talking to Andrew near the end of the second lap, Andrew was still feeling good for an attack off the front with a rider or two. At that point I was recovering and eating to keep my energy levels up for that fateful last lap and going into that final lap I let Andrew know I was there as I slipped to the front to continue my monitoring. Apparently I was not monitoring enough when Andrew and his compadre went up the rode, as I was probably slipping back down the field to recover. Either way, neither Chris Hall nor I saw this move. Knowing whether Andrew was up there or not, I kept all that stuff I mentioned before in mind as I shifted my focus from simply monitoring the front to marking strong riders like Brian Sjoberg and his teammates as they chased on the front to reel Andrew in. Their efforts were not enough and Chris Hall and I gave a big sigh of relief when we heard that Andrew was indeed successfully up the road after our finish.

I ended up 20th in the road race as I had nothing left for the finish, and I'm okay with that (job done). Andrew let his breakaway companion take the win (in a show of great class, though he was kicking himself for it a bit when he learned their gap had increased later in that final lap and later learning that the guy didn't even know where the finish line actually was) and he took a strong second in the road race and enough points to catapult himself to 5th on GC for the weekend!

We are all proud of his work and strong performance. I should say, that we are all proud of his hard work and performances throughout the season. He now has enough points to cat-up and cannot wait to submit for his upgrade. I am proud to have done what I could (however small or sometimes confused my help was) to be a part of his upgrading and I am also proud that he is upgrading as fast as he can. He is a confident, realistic, and aggressive rider that knows class and will be a strong racer with the big boys.
Whole Wheel Velo team of Millersburg with the Special Olympians that were on hand all day handing out water through the feed zone. 
I hope to be in that upgradeable position at some point in the next year or two. It will take me a lot of focus and hard work to get there, but I am as eager as I always am. I might even have to get in a TT position once or twice to get there as well.
Dirty legs after the road race waiting for their tun in the shower.
As I've mentioned, the town of Millersberg really did an amazing job supporting, embracing, and sacrificing a lot for us racers. From kids to an 82 year old man, that rides a segway around town (and cooked us spaghetti Friday night), the racers were treated like royalty. Our host family, Mark and Debbie, went the extra mile! They actually slept in their front room on couches and allowed us racers to take over their bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, driveway, yard, front porch, and anything else they had to offer. Our team was humbled at their hospitality and cannot wait to visit and race with them again next year. The town of Millersberg was so sweet and genuinely friendly to us all and it means a lot.

By the Numbers: Road Race


  • 53.8 miles
  • Time racing - 2:09:05
  • Average speed - 25.0 mph
  • Average HR - 164 bpm
  • Strava (note: power output and calories there cannot be trusted as I don't have a power meter and Strava somehow places numbers for that stuff after I upload)

Thanks for reading and I hope to have more teammates joining us there next year!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Where's The Podium? #14: ToPC Road Race/Criterium

Back to racing at the Tour of Page County. This is a race for the hardmen. The strongest made their presence known and the weaker were picked off by these two grueling days. Everyone was challenged and I, for one, had a great weekend with friends and bikes.

This race was promoted by teammate Chris Gould. His tireless efforts to put on a memorable and challenging weekend should not go without mention. Everyone that put in efforts to have this weekend of racing (not unlike many others, but not all) to run as smoothly as possible did a great job. It was a new experience for me to help out with corner marshaling, but I learned a lot and still raced as best I could, and to be honest, better than I expected, though there aren't any good results to show for it.

If I was not racing, I was to be on a corner. This made for an added challenge to the efforts out there, but I am glad I could do my part in the whole that made this all work.

Anyway, Saturday was the road race. I went in with minimal expectations and a mind to just ride with the group for as long as I could. I also rode with the mindset that I was back to racing after a lot of unexpected time off, and form was what I as personally after. Yes, I did expect to get dropped. I could go into why I thought that, but there's not much use beyond me knowing that I would. No selling myself short here, though. Remember, I did better than expected.

The pace wasn't blistering from the start and for the most part, it was tame throughout the first half of my race. In the race I was described as somewhat "aggressive" by my teammate. I'll take that. I thought, as long as the pace isn't that I'm being shelled off the back, I might as well be active on the front with a teammate in mind and fall off when I fall off. So that's just how it went. I didn't know the course, but our race was to ride it for 5 laps and approximately 60 miles. I made it 4 with 3 in the group and the last on solo off the back.

While I was with the group, I think I rode well. I was in the mix near the front as often as I could be. I drove pace a bit, wasn't afraid to hit the front leading into climbs, and did my part to ride tempo and recover when I could. Again, after the 3rd lap I fell off to ride a lap solo and I knew my race was over. I still have a lot to learn about this distance and these efforts for so long on my body. I am still figuring out what I need, how I can rely on a feed for my bottles, and what I must do to prepare for such rides.

With what I knew and how I had been feeling leading up to this race, I had a good race Saturday. I should now know that feeds are expected at this distance and with a bigger team, I might be more likely to have someone help me out and hand me a bottle. Thus, I need feed bottles at the ready. This road race marked the first time I have ever had a bottle handed to me and it was perfectly done so by teammate Ed Patrick's wife, Kristin. A big thank you goes to her for helping me surviving as long as I did and to Andrew, while in the race, for keeping my head straight about getting a bottle when I needed to.

Andrew took 7th for the road race. I could tell he would have gotten a better spot, but he got boxed in on that climb and could not move around to edge out a better spot. With that race over I was back to my car for a quick change, fluid and food gathering, and back out to a corner for some second half marshaling. I am happy with how the race went for me and it helped to build some measure of confidence in myself for the races to come.

Saturday night was another pleasant surprise. I'm having trouble adequately summing up all that happened. Not because I was drunky, but just because there was so much going on. All the people, conversations, jokes, food, beer selections, and smiles made me so excited to be there. I don't know how people found much comfortable sleep with the rowdiness some of us "last standing" caused, but it made for a memorable time.

Sunday was ahead and more racing with it. The downtown Luray Criterium is something everyone who has raced will not soon forget. That climb. Ouch. Each race had lapped riders, breakaways, and strong finishers. I was not one of those finishers, but I'll live. Marshaling was tough, but it didn't have it as bad as some and I knew I wouldn't last the whole race.

Again, this race weekend was all about getting back some form and having some momentum to carry into the next weekend; which will be in the Millersberg Stage Race. I lost weight and am happy with how my bike performed. Ahead to Millersberg, we're going to have a larger than usual Cat 3 squad and a rider or two that we want to have in contention for that general classification (one in particular, mind you). Awesome! I will be doing my absolute best to help out when and where I can and am not afraid to sacrifice myself for that possibility of a teammate winning. At this point, I am happy to play the teammate role and I know it doesn't go unappreciated. I just hope my efforts are used to the best of their ability and that I can make a positive difference for the team!

By the Numbers:
Saturday

  • Time - 2 hours 32min.
  • Distance - 51.7 mi.
  • Speed - Max: 48.5 mph. Average: 20.3 mph.
  • Elevation gain - 3,957 ft.
Sunday
... not a lot to talk about, so I'll leave it at that.

Thanks for reading and I hope to race this again next year. Results should be better by then, though the race will be just as hard.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pushes

I hesitate to say that these next two weekends are to be my last two pushes of this road season, but at least for this team, they will probably be the last, most important ones. The Tour of Page County and Tour of Millersberg will prove to be tough races for me. I can tell. I'm over racing weight and I am just not having the greatest half to the racing season I would have hoped to. Not gonna lie and say it hasn't gotten my spirits down a bit, but that's all what it is. Nothing is gonna keep me off the bike and I'm still gonna race and ride my hardest. There is always next year and I intend to continue improvement.

But let's keep things in the moment for now. I rode the Arlington "hills ride" for the first time last week and though it was not entirely the hills ride in its entirety, I got a damn good taste and will hopefully have some fresher legs to work with tonight. Turns out my bike fits well in my Tiburon's trunk. As long as the seats are down, D2 is a happy bike.
I had everything I needed, last Wednesday, other than clean legs. They cramped on me, as I knew they would, half-way through the somewhat altered ride teammate Ed took me on. I was bummed, but with 31 miles logged on the work bike earlier in the day and a backyard mowed in between the rides, I didn't stand much of a chance to stay fresh the whole ride. Such is life, readers... at least, such is mine.
New shoes, helmet and glasses patiently waiting in traffic with me on our way to the ride.
Aforementioned contents patiently dealing with my exhausted toss of them to my car's floor.
With crampy legs and nearly being hit by a car ignoring the fact that she had just passed Ed and I while we were in the bike lane to her right as she was beginning to make a right turn, I had a good time and will be back to suffer a bit more. This isn't the only "hill" work that I've been up to though. If you must know. (I know you are) I have a Strava account and here is a link to one ride I did over the weekend. I found this little hill a few weeks ago. It was the one I was riding when my shifter broke. Anyway, this ride was a leg tester and I liked how they felt when I needed to push them.
Tonight should be fun and I hope to get another sunset to drive back home to. It's a bit cloudy and I might have to ride some other way if it's too bad/ annoying to drive and ride in.

thanks for reading. It's been a while, but there have been no races and nothing else to really report on as far as cycling goes. Gotta get right.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Losses and Some Consolation

That car engine fire has dropped my '03 Camry from the road. It happens and I will have to deal with buying a used or (with a slight possibility) new car. This situation I find myself in is why there is insurance. The total loss will not be without compensation for it and I am looking at options for my next investment.

Closer to my feelings is a loss on my bike. During a moderate hill repeat ride, my right-hand/ RD shifter broke on me. It was a little mechanism that kicks the parts under the hood around that either broke off or was just worn down. This comes as a crippling blow to my racing hopes for this weekend as I am missing the Tour de 'Toona and have to now replace the shifter. I will be contacting SRAM as soon as Monday after my dental appointment as the shifter should be under warranty. I should have called them last week, but there's nothing I can do about that now beyond being patient.

Those are the less than great things that have gone on in the past week. I have, however, found myself to be an award winning poet!
I wrote:

How many wins will
These boys take from the others?
Hold your breath, Paris.

And what do ya know?! HTC-Highroad liked mine the best out of over 150 entries! I was proud of it and fairly confident that it would be noticed when I wrote it, but to be enough for the win was a huge surprise and a welcome rush of accomplishment where it has been lacking elsewhere in my efforts.

You've all got yourselves a proper award winning writer/poet in front of you. (I'm milking this for all it's worth.)
More than I expected...
In all, I received Lezyne's HTC-Highroad Port-A-Shop kit with a bunch of sleek tools and useful stuff, an HTC-Highroad water bottle, an HTC-Highroad Tour of California t-shirt and, in a welcome "personal touch fashion," a nice postcard note from them! All I was expecting was the tool-kit! This was so mice to receive and kick my spirits up. I am going to keep this stuff for sure as possibly the closest I will get to professional cycling...

Anyway, I'm happy with the prize and I am happy to have the opportunity to look for a new (to me) car next week. It will turn into a hassle, I'm sure, but I'm not about to complain. I do hope SRAM honors the warranty and even if it takes a few more days for the process to get me that Rival shifter, the money saved will be more than worth it. You all know how it goes.

So, I'm sitting here sipping water out of my new bottle and I have to share how excited I am at a possible job connection that was extended to me through this cycling team I'm on. It's all in a preliminary stage at this point, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't excited and already dreaming about an apartment to call my own in Arlington, Va.

There are ups and downs in life. I am taking them as they come as best I can and am doing my best to keep my optimism up. Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Whole Wheel Fireworks

What an amazing day! Put simply, I would say that this trio performance is unmatched by any other Whole Wheel effort at least this year. (I say that because I've only been here for a few months, but I would contend that we have set the bar a bit higher with today's effort.) As you'll see, having multiple water bottles amongst teammates to share while effectively striking matches to start a blaze can really come in handy - we were feeling the heat!

The corse was relatively flat. There was nothing beyond a few rollers and we were pleasantly surprised at how fast and comfortable we were feeling. Knowing the course profile was the best we could do without being able to actually pre-ride the way (not that we'd want to in this case) and each of us knew just how to drive the front. I believe I can speak for the three of us when I tell you that comfort and efficiency were all in effect on today's ride where teamwork proved a dominant and about hot enough to light a fire.

Chris (Derf), Andrew, and I made quick work of our competitors as we cruised our way up the left side of the road from the get go. I had my means of navigation for most of the way and with their help we made sure our directions were sound and without hinderance as we cruised by without noticing much more, to the effect of course marshaling, than a county sherif's vehicle to our left (good eye, Andrew). Golly, I'll bet he could have written us a fine for how fast we were leaving the rest in smoke behind us! #amirightfellas ? Derf, Andrew, and I each had our time-checks and everything was pointing to better than expected results. However, breaking from the rest was not the most surprising part of the day. It was after we stopped for a nature-break and taking on some food while still ahead of where we thought we would be that had our spirits well intact for the rest of the way.

Yet, not all was to go as planned. I made note of an initial warning sign I was experiencing, but got the optimistic go-ahead nod from my teammates and kept up the pace at the front. I was happy to have reassuring teammates there and though second flare of warning was noted by myself and Andrew, Derf was there to keep us right on schedule and well assured that things were still pointed in the right direction with our heads up and doubts down to not let up as he felt we had more than enough in our favor to take a few risks. That wind screaming by and slight smell of burning we are all accustomed to when we think bike racing with carbon tubulars was nothing to be alarmed about. Unfortunately, as we rounded a corner all we had going for us was up in flames as smoke billowed from under my car's hood and through my air conditioning vents.
Andrew's photo here shows Derf all about the fireworks display and me not digging it so much, but it was a good time for sure!

That might have to be the last drive my '03 Toyota Camry can give and though I was hoping/expecting that stubborn vehicle to last me to settling down with a family and a swap for a true yuppie vehicle after running out in a blaze of glory a few years down the road, I could not have asked for a better day (July 4th) or teammates for it to catch fire with. Teamwork really showed its forte as the three of us quickly shared those aforementioned water bottles to extinguish the fires and cool the engine after popping that hood. After pouring those bottles to my engine's content, our thoughts were quickly slapped our bikes as we had them off the rear rack and at a safe distance as we waited for the various tow-trucks and the ride back to NoVa. All is well aside from my car and I will know the extent of the disaster, at the earliest, after work tomorrow. And though the bikes collectively were worth more than that Camry from the start, I believe I can easily place my bike as my most valuable (for the $) vehicle.

Thanks for reading and I hope you all enjoy your 4th fireworks as much as we did earlier today (planned and sparkly or otherwise).

Sunday, July 3, 2011

More Please

This past week has been pretty good for my cycling. At least I'm happy with how my training has gone and I have been given a taste of more group ride possibilities and people to ride with. On top of that, I attended a proper cycling get-together to watch the first stage of the Tour de France.

The Tour de France gets cyclists really excited. It's a spectacle. It's a dream. It's a bike race. Three weeks from now some phenomenal bike rider will be on the top step of the podium in Paris, France and we will all be talking about how they did it, how others lost it, and who will be back for vengeance, defiance, and glory. The excitement doesn't just stop at the riders. Let's not forget their bikes, jerseys, gear, and overall team appearance. Everything is examined and under the microscope of pro judgement. These teams are class and we amateurs are taking notes.
Philippe Gilbert, 2011 Belgian National Champion, on his way to win the first stage of this year's TDF.
But allow me to bring it back in a bit. I'm going to have my first race in over two weeks tomorrow on the 4th of July. I have strong, motivated teammates along side me and I am hoping to perform with them. I think any one of us can have a crack at a good result, but I believe it will come down to an in-race decision on who is feeling the best and how the race itself unfolds. My legs have been building well the past week and I hope I can be at least more useful in this event. I'm excited to be racing and I am happy to be in the mix again.

Some thing I was hoping for/expecting in the mail never came this week and I will be missing those tomorrow morning, but it all comes down to the rider and I really expect them to come next week in time for the next big weekend for me at the Tour de 'Toona. That will be a real test, but first thing's first.

I am still meeting and getting to know cyclists around the area. I am excited for every chance I get and am never disappointed. I think I got lucky in picking this group of riders to develop with and find it amazing how cycling brings not only us, but the world together. I'm gonna go ride.
There's a reason why he's my favorite.
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Should Post More

At least I feel like I should. Again, this blog is for me. Well, I don't mean to be too selfish, but that's the only way I can justify writing all this nonsense for people like me to read. Anything of interest is sort of on the "unnecessary" side of real life. Real life equalling stuff like:

  • Family,
  • Work,
  • Friends, (I need to work on this)
  • Money, (I still need a job lined up after the summer)
  • Apartment (after I get that job lined up...)
  • ... certainly some other things too.
Then cycling. But I'm not gonna lie to you. Right now, I really am hoping to keep cycling as close to the top as possible. I'll try to keep my head on straight, but if it could get a job that pays well that has to do with cycling, I might lose my mind.

I'm not about to complain about what I have now. That would be useless and who knows what is gonna happen in the future. I don't. You don't. Life is in the present.

I have realized that cycling is working its way into many aspects of my life. I mean first it started when I could see physical changed in my body physique after a few months of continuous riding when I first started... and if you know me, you'll know that that's all it took for me to be hooked. That's power. To change what I look like with something that I am enjoying more and more? Keep me on the list!

What I am meaning to get at is that cycling is a passion I have. I wouldn't say it's my only passion, but it's the most prominent right now. It is a driving force. I am trying desperately to have it stay that way. problem is... I have to live in this real world. I want to make a healthy living, I want to ride as much as I can, and I don't want either of those two things to clash. Maybe I'm being a tad short-sighted.

Let me step back. Okay. Uhm. This would be easier if I had some hindsight bais. My ignorance of the aforementioned future is a limiting factor here.

So I guess I will have to wing it. As long as I will try to apply for a job with some cycling company as some administrative support guy, I will also be applying to jobs in government agencies. I don't know where the fish will bite. I don't know how qualified I am or am not. I would hire me, but what do I know? My B.A. in international studies with that econ minor seems to perk people's ears for a gummint job, but I don't know where I fit. I don't feel like I fit.

Whoa whoa, John. Hold up. You did graduate. You are not an idiot. You can sort of write (at least for your own enjoyment). You know how to use the internet, share links, make videos, research, you know how to talk diplomatically and usually without bias. Okay. But they don't know that. My resume reflects the stuff on paper with a little out of ink, but again... they don't know me. 

Maybe what I need is an interview. They will get to see me, hear me talk, and hopefully find that I am able to learn and find interest in a lot of things. I hesitate to say "just about anything," because that would be a lie. There's a lot out there that I don't want to have anything to do with, but I guess I am in no position to be picky. On top of that, it's not like my phone is buzzing out of my pocket with potential employers anyway.

I really am wanting to get my life going, but as my dad has aptly put, "You're stuck." That I am, Dad. That. I. Am. So what's a 22 year old to do? Stop grumbling. Stop blogging. Stop dreaming. Start putting effort into that unknowable future. Four years at IUP was just a first step, John.

I mean, ideally I would like to have some work experience - preferably in a government agency that will pay will, give nice benefits, and allow me to still race and continually develop as a cyclist - and then go back to school for a masters - living the life as a hard(er) working student while still developing as a cyclist - to eventually make enough money to support others than myself and my cycling "development" (in quotes there as I don't know how many years I have left to be getting better and better at that point).

I have a sense of urgency and this is what is going through my head... The summer is waning and all I'm doing is whining... or ranting at least. Maybe I don't need to settle down into any career at this point, but I have to have a job after the summer. I need to make money and get an apartment for myself (if that job pays enough) or with some other kids. I am still young and I still want to meet other people my age. I need to get out. I need to enjoy my life. I need to get more fit. I need to harden up and get better at cycling. I need to destroy whatever is holding me back and work for what I want.

All those "needs." Sense of urgency.

You all should know I'm not trying to complain. It's my situation and I need to get through it. If anyone knows of any job opportunities for a multi-talented, quick learner, hard worker, diligent, likable, get-the-job-done type... I'm not all that picky. At least, I won't tell anyone I don't like the job. But I digress (about time, right?).

Life as I know it is all I know. I have hopes, fears, and really... not that many beers*. I really do enjoy this blog and writing for it needs to be more than about my racing (Where's The Podium?). I'm real with you all. I am really going to be in a pinch if I don't get a job lined up after the summer and all that I might have saved will go to paying meager bills and utter annoyance. Things might go sour for me and I really don't want that. But that's enough worrying. Worrying is for people with too much time to waste. That, I do not have. 

What I do have is a firm passion (among others), ambitions, drive, and as much common sense as I can muster. I thank you for reading this. I didn't think it would turn into me talking so much about job yearning, but it is what is largely on my mind. I would share some of the other stuff, but this is neither the time nor the place... and frankly, you're not the intended audience - sorry.

*no this was not some drunken rant - I have no time for that either... I'll let you know when I do.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Okay Kids...

Let's all look at how to not take a corner.
Taken immediately before my spill this is why I got what I will call a Cat-4-tat on my rear.

For the love of cycling agony, please do not ever take a corner like this. I know better and you all do too. My only possible explanation for this was a severe miscalculation on where I was in the turn and when I could start stamping on the pedals to drill back up that hill.

Thanks to Jor Taylor for snapping the pic for a lesson re-learned and her immediate concern for my well being rather than snapping any more photos of the actual spill. Though, I wouldn't have complained if she had taken more seeing how ridiculous I look here. How embarrassing.

Where's The Podium? #13: ToWC Day 2

The Tour of Washington County Day 2 took racers to an early morning individual time trial, criterium in the afternoon, and a Fathers Day with some all out efforts to round out the general classifications.

The worst of it for me was a bit two-fold. I did not end up being able to finish and end up on the "results" of the stage race because of a spill I took through 90 degree, right turn to the finishing hill of the afternoon criterium. I was not riding particularly strong at that point and was thus, popped off the back. I would have been pulled out of the race in a lap or two anyway. It is just a bummer that I had to go out the way I did.
paramedic's bandaging.
How it happened: Having been popped, again, I was not around anyone and I was really just riding within my limits to continue the race until the officials would have pulled me. Having already burned matches into the red trying to hold onto the the back of the group, I was, at the point of my spill, not taking risks or looking to make my day anymore painful. That is what made this spill entirely unexpected. I was not taking turns with any amount of aggression. Just before the spill, I wasn't avoiding any debris or anything unpredictable through the turn. My wheels slid out from under me and although my left shoe immediately unclipped, my right shoe did not and my right leg was consequently pinned down to the road and the sliding over the road commenced.
"raw meat"-like, but not that bad actually.
The positives are that I didn't take anyone else out and certainly that my bike sustained no damage save a few scratches on the brake lever, handlebar tape, and right pedal. My right shoe sustained some damage, but nothing to cause a replacement beyond the buckle* holding down my top strap.
and that's where that happened.
Beyond my woes, A big shout-out goes to my Whole Wheel Velo Club teammate and damn classy rider, Andrew Shelby, for taking 6th for the overall weekend (increasing his placement with every passing stage). Although I would have liked to have had a bigger impact in his success and possible higher placing, his class and smart racing earned him his very impressive placement and I have learned a lot watching his preparation, recovery, and tenacity throughout the stage race. I look forward to continue racing with him and other WWVC cyclists.

Speaking of which, teammate Chris Gould had a somewhat uncomfortable weekend battling some sickness on this second day. He raced in the criterium, but was pulled early due to throwing up a few times prior to the event and consequently losing a lot of his energy and water. I'm sure he will bounce back soon and anticipation for his Tour of Page County is growing as August draws nearer (bikereg here).

So, although I ht the pavement, the weekend was a success and being part of it is a blessing. I'm really pulling for my form to come around and allow me to be at least a dark-horse for some results in the upcoming races next month and beyond. Also note that I am again starting to think about cyclocross and my sights are set on acquiring a bike for such events. I'm sure I can either borrow an offered teammate's bike or find one for cheap. The first season I'm into it for the thrills, spills. beer, and fun suffering throughout.
crashes will be had here too.
The weekend also had me meeting a lot of people in this well knit group of cyclists, friends and families. A weekend stage race will give much more opportunities for cyclists, family members and fans tagging along for the event. I am still trying to meet more cyclists and work my way through these events.

This road rash won't keep me from competing in a race next weekend. Thanks for reading.

*Then again, I have been searching online for replacement buckles and I am coming up at a loss. I will try emailing the company, though I know Vittoria is not known for making shoes and as my former team's sponsoring shop owner thought, they may have just put their name on some factory-made shoes and might not have much as far as company interest in these shoes. They still prove to be uncomfortable at times, though that has largely subsided this season.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Where's The Podium? #12: ToWC Day 1

I can say that I have not been happier to have been dropped in a road race than today. There are a few reasons why, my friends.
1. It was on my own terms - I dropped myself.
2. It was to help out a teammate - like a good teammate should (hopes to).
3. I didn't drop the hammer until the end - sacrificive effort. (yes, I just made up that word)

Let me be frank, however. The prologue that opened up the legs this morning five-before-10:00 for me was a somewhat race-shattering effort for me. Finishing in 50th and well over a minute back on GC had me a bit wary as to how I might attempt to stack up against the rest of the field in a 37 mile race.

The course was a roller-fanatic's dream. Six laps of kicks and recovery repeats just about summed up this race for me.

Having the yellow/center line rule is surely a necessary race rule. However, allowing for no advancement or even bobbing over that opposing traffic barrier kept the road race peloton fairly stable and me stuck in the back 50% of the pack for the entire race until the finish.

That being said, with six laps of this course to be had, everyone could find where ground could be made up one side of the other and where risks could be taken and consequent places to the front.

Each lap ticking away had not only my confidence trickling upward for my ability in the race, but also my sense of urgency to be up at or at least near the front for my teammate, Andrew Shelby.

The bell lap is wring and my calves are beginning to cramp. I had felt their them tensing up with each preceding lap. Fighting those cramps was that aforementioned increasing sense of urgency to now be at the front for my teammate. I found a pair of racers surging to the front through turns and downhills as the group slowed and swelled during uphill efforts. Latching onto the wheel of that surge had me take risks and gain valuable positions with minimized effort. Though I had been no closer than here wheels behind Andrew's mid-pack positioning throughout the race, with some purposeful positioning I was finally on his wheel and able to let him know I was moving around him right before the final steep rollers. It was exactly then that I was able to finally use my "protected," yet ever-cramping legs on the front.

I drilled it as best I could. I lead over the 4th to last climb and into the 3rd. It was there that I popped and thought I would be quickly overtaken. The pace simply slowed with me and others on the front and it was not until the 2nd to last kicker that I was quickly overtaken. My legs were in full cramp and I simply wanted them to survive. Upon my purposeful droppage, I saw Andrew well positioned near the front. This told me that my effort was not in vain and that it was now in Andrew's hand to make an effort to the finish line.  I was able to catch the uphill finish though the racers sprinting the uphill looked rather like spots of vibrating color from my vantage point.
Spike in heart rate is where I drilled the front at the end. Boom.
I finished the road race 37th, moving up 13 spots to 37th place on GC. I'll take it. My job was to work as a teammate and I did that as best I could.

My work isn't done, however. Tomorrow is day 2 of this omnium Tour of Washington County. There is a time trial in the morning and a criterium in the afternoon. I know my efforts as a teammate will be better served in the criterium, but anything can happen and the times could be tight for Andrew and his GC contention.

Thanks for reading. I will update in more depth when I have my computer in front of me.