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.