Friday, April 29, 2011

New Things & A Bigger Stage

Let me just out with it... I am now a Cat 3 cyclist! I was not expecting this to happen so quickly and I am pumped! I feel like I've hit this mark in my cycling career a bit fast, but I'm not about to complain and I have been wanting to step up to this level for a long time. I can now make myself suffer in any race I'm allowed in with some of the best around. I say this with my upcoming race in Ohio in mind. I will be competing in the combined Cat 1/2/3 field. There is no solo 3 field, nor combined 3/4 field. I am hitting the ground running on this one, folks.

Beyond all of that. If you all remember me mentioning how I broke my trainer the other week... I have a new one that is indeed an investment to one that should last for years!
D2 meeting his new friend!
This weekend looks to be a good one. Sure, I'm missing the senior bar-crawl.... I think I'd rather be doing this.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Where's The Podium? #5: ECCC Championships Crit - 20th

The previous day's road race at the 2011 Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference Championships at Penn State University rendered itself unexpectedly pleasant to David, finishing a well earned 7th, and me with a 3rd place finish. After heading back to IUP to recover and clean the bikes, I found my thoughts of Sunday's PSU criterium similarly daunting with what I remember from 2009. A lot of pain and me being unable to hang on had me pull out of my race early back then. This time around, I had more revenge to take and I believe I made the best of my opportunity there. David, on the other-hand, did not fair so lucky in this technical 1 km race course.

Mens D1 crit had David unfortunately starting at the very back of the pack. His race erupted right away with sandbaggers fast riders working off the front from turn one. I knew this would be a near impossible task to get to the front for David. Those leaders were gapping the field the whole race. Anyway, David went down just before the most technical part of the race. I saw his eyes look right at the curb and his bike slid out from under him. He took some nice road rash and scrapes, but jumped right up. His bike was quite out of focus from that point on, but he up and ran to the spare wheel area and hopped right back into the crit. From then on everything seemed to be a bit off for him and he was eventually pulled. Nevertheless he rode a strong effort and stayed in as long as he could. The tough effort he gave the day before and a crash with a bike not fully recovered will throw anyone's game off. With his race finished, the D2 mens race was to go off before my combined C1&2 crit. I took that time to warm up and get to the race line-up.

I started on the line 3rd row back. I guess it was fairly middle of the pack, but I sure wish I has been able to get their earlier. Either way our race was high-paced and at least to my knowledge, wreck free. I guess i heard that one or two guys went down, I got close a few times, but the technicality of that crit was amazing. The fast turns, the quick pace, the big digs, the fights for positions. All of this made for a crit I really enjoyed.

The more crits I do the more I like them. They are about pain and soaking up the suffering with quick decisions to be made and no room for mistakes.

The beginning of my race, I was a bit sketchy. I was in pain, I was pushed back, and suffering. I did not know the turns too well, let alone at speed and I was around riders that I knew I could/should be beating. This was much more technical than Steel City for sure. I figured out that if I give a real good effort on the final stretch of each lap, with a lap of recovery tossed in every so often, I could get some real gains in positioning. Not panicking is very key in cycling. No matter how difficult or lost things may feel, you never panic. So I gained more positions and when the pace was really let up at the front I actually lead through a few turns. I was very happy with the form I was showing and the work and determination of getting to the front paying off. I bobbed amongst the top 20 from the last 1/3 of the race.

The end of the race had me suffering just as I had throughout it all. I tried to keep my efforts at a smart level. Turns out no sleep the night before will really sap a sprint and sharp minded positioning no matter how "good" I felt about my efforts. I lost positions the last 2 laps and ended out 20th. I didn't know I had slipped back so far, But I was not about to take any huge risks on turns - though I was getting better and better at flying through those bad boys as the race went on.

All in all, I enjoyed the race and was glad to know David was fine from his wreck (not taking out anyone else is key too). I tapped into an aggression that I only hope to keep a hold of. I cut people off for wheels when they were slacking, I never hesitated to work my way up - not caring who was sucking my wheel for a free ride, I jumped people when they were weak, I took the wind like I didn't care. That is the racing I will hope to keep up this weekend. We are off to Ohio this weekend to race around a lake and to see IUP Cycling's alum, Duane Corbett.

By the numbers... I just found my computer yesterday. Whoo! There is another nice surprise I ran into this week as well that I will blog about shortly. Stay tuned... thanks for reading!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Where's The Podium? #4: ECCC Championships RR - 3rd

If you have't read the back-story to this Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference Championship weekend, please feel free to. This post will certainly make more sense. At any rate, David and I, feeling strong and confident from Tuesday night's "black-flagged" criterium race at the Bud Harris Cycling Oval in Pittsburgh, headed to Penn State for the Easterns and the Nittany Cycling Classic races.  (This year, as in 2009, ECCC Championships, "Easterns," and the Nittany Cycling Classic all refer to the same thing.) I forgot my camera for the trip, so the few post-race bike shots will have to suffice.

I will say that my weekend in general did not go as planned, for better or worse. For reasons I will just say are beyond my control Friday night before the Saturday team time trial (TTT) and Black Moshannon road race, I was only able to grab about 2.5 hours of sleep. I was already anxious about how I might do in this race. Knowing how I faired in 2009 had me wondering if I would be able to finish the race, let alone try and place well. I will note that David and I aptly decided against participating in the TTT. There was only two of us, and I will just say it would have been a stretch for us to get there in time and ready to suffer before the road race beginning at 10:10. Thus, we planed for that 10:10 start time for my category C race and David's category D one. Again, the C racers were to do 2 laps of the 21.8mile (?) course while the Ds were to punch out one lap.

The course has a 6 mile climb that separates the favorites from the rest and the descents were similarly decisive for the strongmen, at least the final descent would be. Although I competed one lap of this road race in 2009, the heavy fog that settled on us this time was incredible. I could not tell where I was, but at the end of the day, We all  On top of climbs and into  the descents we could not see more than 20 yards ahead. It made for a memorable and extremely fun/tense workload. Again, my race had two laps up and down and each one had their own flavor.
This bike deserves a wash.
Start Line. No warm-up before hand, but I had a feeling I would be alright. A breakfast of two and  Two gels were consumed leading up to the race and I had two more tucked on the quads. I am not one to rely on gels too often, but having 2.5 hours of sleep the night before rendered me ready to try anything for energy and lessen the pain coming. I got a few twinges of nervousness, but I was eager to just get it all started. In regular "Belgian" form, I didn't hesitate to line up with warmers and I was the only one. You have to know the climbing will make you warm up. Today's climbing would have me screaming to rip off my gloves, cap and arm warmers while the descents would keep me in check.

Lap One. The pace wasn't too high as Penn State took to the front pace making. Their efforts on the front would be the constant for the day. I sat mid-pack of the race until the climbing hit. I was eager to slide up near the front knowing there would probably not be any major moves off the front, but just in case. Before hitting the major climb, someone did try to move off the front, but the PSU boys and others weren't about to panic. That climb the first time through had me getting a little nervous about my form. I had a feeling I could do well to keep with the pace this time through, but I also had in mind the second time I would have to ascend with this leading/chase group. Once we were over the major section of the climb, I took the opportunity to suck down my first gel, strip off my first glove layer, and unzip the jersey to reveal a little of that base layer and release some of that heat. I did this trailing off the group a bit, but I knew I would swing back on through the rolling terrain we were racing through. Our race motorcycle was following us as we crested the big climb and rolled through the top terrain and as I got everything situated to my liking I gave his a thumbs up ad a "thank you" and as one of those things I do to keep myself laughing. The fog was incredible though. I liked that our leading/chase group of 8 or so had the moto sweing forward - leading us down for a visual que as to where the road lead (he was really just sitting next to the breakaway rider not 5 sec up the road). Turning the acute angle left-hand corner down the final descent right onto the finishing stretch, the pace was quickened at least for a show of hustle for the cheering spectators and to size up how this second go-through might shake out.

Lap Two. The pace was much like the first lap. Penn State was on the front and we had finally swallowed up the lone breakaway. I believe he sat on for as long as he could until being popped off the back during that 6 mile climb. He told me later that our group had about a 5 minute lead on the second group on the road. In any case, the selection was made and I began to pay attention to every little detain I could.
Grimy bike - I was happy to clean.
The Details. Keep in mind I have not raced with any of these guys before. I could see that Penn State was still at the front with two teammates working hard. However heroic and honorable their efforts were to be leading out their home race, they were still in the wind 90% of the race. This, I knew, would play to my and everyone else's advantage come the final sprint. I also noticed the University of New Hampshire (UNH) had two boys in this group as well. They were masterful/fearless descenders and their wheel would be the ones I was looking to follow up and down the final climb and descent. I also paid attention to other racer's breathing, size, body language, and tactics. Everything was telling me who to follow, who to watch out for, and who to avoid. a UNH wheel would be the one for me and I think it paid off well. I didn't expect to even be close to the front group let alone having the ability to pick and choose victims.

The Finish. Atop the 6-mile climb, on the aforementioned rollers PSU's riders were still on the front with the UNH pair right behind. I and a Duke University rider were sitting third row and we began to chat up the finish and how we were excited to see things play out. He was a smart rider and I might have looked to follow his wheel. All of a sudden the race was really on when a Cornell rider swung out and cranked the pace up (#matchburning). My gloves were off. I knew I needed full feel of my handlebars and shifters for this finish. PSU was happy to follow this Cornell crank-up lead and we all knew the end was neigh. The descent began and attacks flew. Riders were trying to take the race into their own hands. With the heavy fog, I was quite uneasy to pick out an opportunity to attack and I let the others rip it up knowing I would still have a final say on the finishing stretch. A UNH and Duke rider attacked just before the descent began and their gap was growing. I thought to myself to not let this one slip away. This race was too important to me to let others drop me and give me no say for the win. I took up the chase and looked to have help from the others not wanting to give up before even a fight. We eventually got close to them when we hit the final sketchy, acute-angle, turn to the finish. I knew they did not mention that the yellow line was taken out for the final sprint and I actually swung wide and into the gravel off the pavement when I needed to open my sprint. I could feel the watt sapping pull of the gravel when I lunged out of my saddle and into full-sprint to recover lost positions. After 1.5 rotations of my pedals I snapped myself back onto the pavement and surveyed the rider ahead. Duke and one of the UNH riders were too far ahead for me to see at this point, but I quickly picked off two other riders before seeing the other UNH boy ahead. He saw me coming and knew I would be swinging past him to take the podium. I kept pushing through to the line wishing there were 100 meters more to go, but Duke took a decisive win with UNH holding for second. I was stoked!
A secure third.
I couldn't believe I just took third in the toughest race I had ever participated in. Everything about my racing career went through my mind from the first time I attempted it til the finish taking 3rd. This race meant a lot to me and to round off the podium was a shock and equally exciting moment. I high-fived and congratulated the other racers as they passed me before turning around and I had the biggest smile on my face. This, just like every other painful race is why I race, train, and suffer. I am a pansy when it comes to descending. I am still working on that and my tactics, but given the fact I didn't know any of these riders and who to really watch, I am not a "climber,"the little sleep I got, and that I was unable to shave my legs the night before... something was working in my favor. Had there been an attack on the climb, I doubt I would be able to follow. This limit pushing effort was just what I wanted and my result was everything I didn't expect.
Bronze Medal
David faired well to take 7th in the D race and we are both happy with our form and efforts. The PSU was not over with this road race, however. Easter Sunday would bring the infamous PSU Frat-Row criterium to our legs. Stay tuned for a post-race-post on that endeavor. More personal surprises in that one too. Thanks to everyone for the support and congrats on my podium spot! It helps to have people thinking of me and hoping I roll through on top. I'm still searching for that first win of this season, but I am confident it's not too far off.

By the Numbers. Still no sign of my bike computer. It would have been nice to spit everything I was feeling your way, but such is life.

I hope to find more relevant photos from the races. Anyone know where I might be able to find some? If I spot any good ones I'll add them here. Thanks for reading.

Friday, April 22, 2011

How It All Started

Sophomore year. I have my 2008 Raleigh Supercourse that I've begun my cycling career with and I'm scared of what this whole racing bicycles thing might be. I've always been squeamish to this point in life about competition in general. I would tell myself, "So many people have been put through this and survived.. what makes you think you won't? It's only going to be maybe an hour and a half of your life." I have not had and formal training or real understanding of what bike racing is about and how I should go about riding and racing, but I guess everyone starts somewhere. So let's go to my very first race.
Post-race-picture from my first race.
Tuesday night. It's April 21, 2009, (I think) and I am lost in Pittsburgh with then IUP Cycling Club president, Duane Corbett. It's raining, cold, and we are trying to find the cycling Oval that I have come to love. We stop at a gas station and ask for directions. Though they didn't help us much we eventually made it to the Oval and sign in. I was so confused, so cold, and so scared/ready to not even race, but I wasn't about to let too much of that get out verbally. After the sign in we head to the car and get ready as fast as we can. The race starts with us, and probably everyone else, shivering. The race is off and I am as sketchy as they come. All of this was new to me. The pace-lining, the speed, the turns, the work, the sprint at the end. Duane ended up winning, saying that he felt like no one else even wanted to win. I believe I took 8th (probably got worse) after getting pinned on the inside while everyone else swung wide with ample room and speed to find their lines. I was excited we came there and took a win as a team though and the weekend ahead.
Front flat tire Sunday morning before the crit.
The weekend. Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference Championships at Penn State University would provide a big venue for us to get after. At this point, IUP Cycling was in a young form. This big weekend was going to shape my cycling in many ways. Although some of the other IUP cyclists had race their bikes before, I was just a bit too scared to really get into it before this and I wish I had stepped up before. With confidence from his tuesday night win, Duane was pushing for him and me to head to PSU registered to race in the "C" category (D-A; least experienced to most - to put it simply). Category D is what we should have raced and we learned it the hard way. Let me not forget to mention Jon Yuhas and Steven Brewer were joining us at PSU as well. They were appropriately racing the D category as, again, we were all fairly new to this intense kind of road racing.
Saturday morning. Everything was apparently going as planned. We got to Black Moshannon State Park with ample time to warm up for the team time trial. We had never done a TTT before let alone really worked a paceline together and it showed. We each took turns blowing up and going way too hard, losing wheels, missing turns... it was a mess. The road race to follow was and will be the toughest route I have ever raced. It is forever scarred in my mind and legs. I could never have guessed cycling would be this difficult. I know I wanted to puke and stop pedaling. A a certain point, I did get over the climbing and thought how I could make this race that I've been so clearly dropped out of more comfortable. I guzzled down my gels and tried to set myself into a rhythm. Duane had been in a lead group, but was wearing too many clothes and was burning up in the worst way having to stop to strip layers off. He was behind me and I crossed the 1 lap to go line before him.

Funny thing happened when he was making his way to cross the line... Again, we were both in the C race and this meant that we would have to complete a second trip around the Black Moshannon State Park. I pulled myself out of the race. It was all too much. Duane, not knowing that I was already on the roadside decided to make the best of all that pain and the disgrace of pulling oneself out of the race. I saw him approaching the finishing stretch and he actually went no-hands, zipped up his jersey like he was soloing to a win (he was in the middle of a pack for sure too) and he raised his hands in perfect victory salute form. I couldn't stop from laughing when I saw this and hearing the race officials yell at him to firstly, keep the hands on the bars and secondly, remind him that he had another lap to do. We got back to the car in good spirits as we waited for Brewer and Yuhas to finish their races (one lap that began after ours). We packed up and got out of there yapping on about how difficult that race was and how weak we all felt compared to everyone else around us.. but laughing nonetheless.
weekend shirts - how very appropriate...
Sunday morning was met with a certain unease having just undergone a real cycling shock to the system. The night before we all were incredibly hungry and shared one of those pizza hut pasta dishes and we were just ready for anything that would happen during this 6-90 degree corner crit. Again, Duane and I were in the C event. Having witnessed Brewer's crit, we knew this was going to be a sufferfest of a different kind. Duane and I pulled ourselves out of the race before they could pull us. We felt really demoralized after that and the weekend was done as far as we were concerned.

That first weekend has shaped so much of my cycling career thus far.

Everything was changed and an entirely new insight to bike racing was witnessed and experienced by me and all of IUP Cycling. Jon Yuhas was announced that weekend as the second president of IUP Cycling and changes to everything we focussed on were in place. Everyone who went to PSU that weekend has been driven by the experience at IUP. We are a stronger, specialized few now.

This past Tuesday, David Watkins, next year's (and the two years following) IUP Cycling Club president and I went to the Oval and did work to put ourselves in a lead group that established a half-lap lead on the rest of the field. We were feeling strong and comfortable. unfortunately a rider in the peloton went down and didn't get up. She was eventually declared to "be alright," though an ambulance was called just to be sure and the race was thus "black-flagged." I absolutely felt like I was the strongest in the field and would have taken the sprint for first (none of the regular "favs" were there). No finish line reached. No winnings. No worries.
This weekend, David and I, the current IUP Cycling club president for those who didn't know, will be going to Penn State for the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference Championships. I will be racing C for revenge and David will be racing D for good measure. The routes and races are all the same. The stage is set. I will not only be completing each of my events, I will be looking to ride for a placing. I have no idea what to expect, but pain, suffering, and a good relapse to where I was two years ago. I was initially shying away from considering this race as one I wanted to do when I saw it on the ECCC schedule, but this could not be a better way for me to "pass the torch" to David and for us both to represent IUP at the collegiate races. I know this will be a great experience and I know that I have never been stronger as a rider. I am motivated and ready to destroy myself for this. I will give it my all. That you all can be sure of, readers. Everything I have experienced will be put to the test here. I am putting a lot of pressure on myself to perform at my best. I have no doubt this will be a good experience and I wish to make the best of everything that happens.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Where's The Podium? #3: Steel City Showdown - 18th

The Steel City Showdown was a criterium through and through and an amazing event at that! Part of the 2011 ABRA Criterium Series, people from all over came to race this unique, challenging course and I loved every minute of it.
Nathan and Sean hustling to get race ready.
The day's events started with the men's Cat5 race in which IUP Cycling's David Watkins, Sean Morahan, and Nathan Graham opened things up. Their race set the bar high for the day's suffering to be experienced by all. Sean hit the deck early on at turn 1, but hopped right back on and continued his race in well appreciated IUP fashion. Unfortunately the pace was just too fast for Sean and Nathan to stay in, but for first time racers they went into it with a fight and are looking forward to more racing at IUP. David, on the other-hand, was working well to stay in the front group of this race and hung on for a great 7th place. Describing the race, he mentioned how well aware he was of his efforts and that of other competitors. His positioning was perfect throughout the race as far as I could tell and I'm sure his parents - who came to see this interesting sport their son has so readily gotten into - were very proud of his efforts.

The men's Cat3/4 race for me was set to go off following an exciting women's Cat1/2/3/4 race and finish. I was getting more and more excited as the start-time drew nearer and my legs were feeling as well as I would expect them to. As usual, I was probably one of the few in my race to "have at it" with no arm or leg warmers. Though I got a few comments questioning my sanity and offers to have me borrow extra warmers from friends, I knew this was nothing to worry about and my warm-up did plenty to get me feeling well warm and ready. At the start line I was feeling happy and jittery from the free espresso provided me by Big Bang Bike's tent (thank you much!). I was also happy to be meeting and joking with some future teammates of Whole Wheel Velo Club that made the trip north-westward to race this!
Me cheesin' with future teammates of WWVC
The race started with a half-lap neutral start, but one wouldn't have been able to claim anything neutral by the jostling for position taking place right from the start. I will say I've had worse clip-ins and my position from the front line was unfortunately lost, but I knew it was going to be a tough one for me to get out front anyway. I was aware of my mid-pack positioning and decided to sprint up the hills of the bridges to regain positions and try to keep myself off the back. These sprint-like efforts were sucking my energy, but I knew it was all I could do to try and put myself up there. I found my efforts to work up to the front semi-rewarded, though absolutely energy sapping. I tried to recover well through turns only to punch again so soon. Eventually my efforts began to really take their toll and I popped off the back of a lead group sucking wind and knowing there was nothing more I could do but keep turning the pedals as hard as I could.

What a feeling! I hated and loved it. The more it hurt, the more my thoughts turned into a reflection of my cycling aspirations. I've got a long way to go, but I was right where I wanted to be. My body was aching - begging me to stop - but I wouldn't dare (just like everyone else). Eventually, I found myself suffering with a great intensity that I will say had many contributors to it, but I won't go into that mess. The intense suffering was awesome. I could feel my whole body screaming and I just wanted to keep pushing it. Questions in my mind of whether I could actually finish this race were quickly driven out and I wouldn't rather be doing anything else. I began keeping in mind to not panic and make the best of what was happening around me. Flying through corners, testing limits, chasing gaps, and all the pain gave me such a great feeling - I need to do more crits.
Eventually, I found myself working hard to stick with a slowly forming chase group. I worked on the front when I could and was quickly put in my place by that wind. There were a few sketchy moments of my bike and I whipping from that wind, but it was taken in stride as there were more things I had to worry about than the uncontrollables dished out by the powers that be. The lap cards were a welcome reminder that this suffering did have a commencement and I tried my best to keep my spirits up. It turned out to be easier than I expected. Again, my appreciation of the suffering I was experiencing was great and I found myself drooling, snotting, and sucking wind like the best of them. I thought it best to cheer on the crowd and let my teammates watching and supporting me know that I was having a blast despite any pain-face I may had been displaying. The cheering I gave the crowd actually helped me get a little boost of adrenaline and I could hardly believe a little gap I established on my group at one point. Upon realization of this gap I told them "I don't mean to break-away or anything." I'm sure they understood and I slipped back into the line keeping in mind the race finish was quickly approaching. Ben Hay took the sprint of our little group and I passed a few riders that found a sprint not entirely worth a full effort, or they just burned out.

Turns out I finished 18th and I will accept that with optimism. I set a goal to not be pulled from the race and wherever I was to finish would be where I finished. Don't get me wrong, I would have loved a better placing. I would have loved to be in the lead group. I would have loved to mix it up with the strong-men of the race, but this is my first crit of the season, first cat3/4 race of the season, and it won't be the last. Out of the nearly 80 starters (so I heard) to this crit, to come out top 20 and being in the less than optimum condition I was in from misfortunes of my idiocy yesterday and this morning, I am a happy camper. I wanted to experience this event and it really was everything I expected.
I would like to thank all those who helped make this event possible and as great as it was. Another "thank you" to David's parents for generously giving David money to buy us all a post-race meal. (Dick's Diner, you dawg!) I would also like to thank the help and support from Jason Plank and his girlfriend Kelsey at our race. Unfortunately, her camera's battery died before she could cover more of IUPs racing, but we look forward to seeing what she did get and I will be adding what I can at a later time/post. This race was to be IUP Cycling's biggest with respect to atmosphere and we look forward to racing it for years to come and results to boot. I hope to convince David and the other IUP cyclists to start up and maintain blogs and keep IUP Cycling's going after I'm off to other things. I understand I post this on IUP Cycling's blog with a great lean towards my race, but that's just how it is until they step up and write their own accounts, ya dig?
By the numbers: Well there aren't any to speak of on my end. I cannot seem to find my bike computer and I can only imagine my average heart rate was somewhere around 176bpm with a max of around 202bpm. Who know's, folks. This 45 min race was a good one! Official results can be found HERE. And for those who don't know, I did in fact break my trainer yesterday working an interval. I will be hopefully acquiring a new one that won't break and that will be "all that" for my winter training and warm-up needs (another post will update about this situation shortly).

Again, thanks for reading, I will update (and edit) as I see fit, and do please share your thoughts in the comments section. They are much appreciated.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Independence-Driven Sanity

So that's two races in one week that have had to cancel due to weather. I don't like it one bit, but it is what it is. I am hoping my form will keep being worked with training rides that I would much rather be a race. There is just a whole different mentality and physical focus that happens during a race that no training ride will provide. You dig harder. It's as simple as that.

In full stride, I am looking ahead to the summer of post-graduation and "the real world." I will be moving back in with my parentals and you all should know by now how much I appreciate them. I gave them a call today to toss them my idea before I wrote anything here - anticipating a follow-up email asking me about it.  Anyway, the idea is for me to find an apartment to move into for myself to keep an independence-driven sanity. Not that living at home will drive me insane, but it will.


I have a lifestyle that I'm trying to see work out. There will be quite an alteration of that when I am slapped into work the Monday after graduation, but I am confident I can handle it and keep this cycling front and center. The apartment search will be all window-shopping until I can have a job secured to continue that money income after this temporary summer job. That will be key and the deciding factor. Yet again, I am confident things will work out and that I will end up alright in this world.

Three weeks left of school and I'm trying my best to hold on to the fun of it all. While I'm young! Also, my aforementioned parentals will be celebrating their 29th (I believe) wedding anniversary tomorrow. They are a beautiful and strong, loving couple and I am one lucky kid. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

No Shows

I was really looking forward to writing another post-race-post, but the Allegheny Cycling Association decided to cancel tonight's Tuesday night criterium race. Now last year, as incentive to make Cat 4s race the "B" (cat 3/4) race on Wednesday nights, they shortened the "C" (cat 4/5) to under 15 miles so that there could be no points awarded to Cat 4 racers' licenses (for upgrading their license category to a 3) if they place well during the event. Thus, the Tuesday Night C race would not give me much beyond a fun opportunity to work my legs and hopefully get new racers into the swing of things.

Tonight, David and I made the trip citing no thunderstorms on the radar and just a bit (okay... a lot) of rain. That shouldn't stop the races! When we got there around 5:30 pm for an early sign in and warm-up, the rain was falling and there was little action going on. Our fears were realized when I rolled down my window to a guy sitting in his truck next to me in the parking lot waving to tell me that the ACA cancelled the race.

Upon hearing the news and me rolling up my window, David quickly blurted out that the ACA needed to "harden the f*ck up!"Not to make a waste of a trip or to think twice about riding, David and I  got ready for our ride at the Oval. It was a cold, rainy, windy ride. We did about 15 miles (yes, a touch more than what the aforementioned C race would have been anyway) and worked together pace-lining efforts that ramped up to some nice race-intensity work. We were accompanied by two others who had made the trip not anticipating a cancellation or refusal to race anyway, due to the weather.

It was a beautiful day, yesterday.
In full Belgian stride, David and I both refused to wear leg-warmers, (would have been soaked through and cold anyway) jackets, or warming gels. It was on par with some of our more interesting weather related rides. Anyway, we're made it back to Indiana and I whipped up some spaghetti for our efforts. We are looking forward to racing the Hollidaysburg Spring Classics' Telpower race Saturday and then the Steel City Showdown on Sunday. Please let me know if you would be interested in joining us at the Steel City race on Sunday. I know it will be a once in a year kind of event and IUP would really enjoy some fans. Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 11, 2011

IUP For Four Years

Today is my off-day for the week as far as training on the bike goes and I have some time that I feel I might as well use writing. I spent last night writing a paper and after that was taken care of the amazing weather was just too much to resist. I could not allow myself to sit in my apartment so I went out for a walk around IUP's campus with my camera. You should all know by now that I'm no photographer and it is just something I like to do. There are many instances I wish I could capture the way light is playing off buildings or simply when I see something unexpectedly delightful. I haven't worked up the guys to asking people if I could take pictures of their delightfulness just yet. I might just want to leave that to the professionals. In any case, walking around IUP's campus last night got me to think a lot more about my past four years here than I have on any bike ride of late.
It got me thinking about how when I first visited this school I was not keep to go here. Indiana University of Pennsylvania's lot was not fitting with my conception of what a college campus was to look like. Naive, sure, but this really was the only campus I visited other than GMU's in my hometown. Regardless, I have been here four years.

Don't think I don't wonder about what I could have done differently here. I went into college with the idea that you make it what it is. I am amazed at the friends I've made and I will absolutely miss them. I have been lucky enough to have picked up the beautiful sport of cycling here and I will always keep that in my life. Mistakes are taken as lessons and knowledge is relative. I of course hope I haven't missed opportunities and I an really trying to make the most of the time I have left here. I will be moving on shortly and such is life. No need to linger on the "what could've beens." 
A lot of these new buildings around were not there when I started at IUP. I remember my first day of classes...
I was at this very spot I was lost and frantically trying to avoid being late for classes. I looked up the campus map and thought I had a pretty good idea of where buildings were and what I was to be looking for. Keith Hall had my very first class and I could not, for the life of me, find it. I consulted that on-campus, campus map and was still at a terrified loss. My head on the swivel, I searched for a kind soul that might point me in the right direction. Instead, the chance I took was to ask someone just as lost as me. In my mind, at least I wouldn't feel as embarrassed asking for directions from someone who looked to be in the same aforementioned despair am I. He was looking for Keith too. Upon re-consulting our campus map we wondered if Keith Hall was actually right in front of us. There was no sign from our vantage point that we were right at the steps of our destination, but eventually my memory fades as I step into the building and my collegiate endeavors have officially begun.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Where's The Podium? #2: Hollidaysburg Canoe Creek 1 - 9th

I am going to try and keep my policy of no regrets alive through this one. This race was another animal for me compared to my Morgantown race. Sure Morgantown was a climbing race, but this one was more of hill repeat race. I am running through my mind what I could have done differently to have come out with a better result, but what happens, happens and overall this is still a learning experience.
Terrible fog on the way there and back.
This morning was a rush. I woke up at 6am for the 8:30ish race start and there were a lot of things I wish I had taken care of either the night before or with more patience that would have kept my focus at least intact. For example, the gps system I have for my car is a real pain. The past two weekends it has not been able to find the parks or destinations I need to get to to park and begin my pre-race warm-ups. I have had to rely on either a friend's gps or, like today, guessing a bit and utilizing some rather ambiguous verbal directions from the kind driver next to me. on top of that, I should have gotten gas the night before. Not only was the possibility of missing the sign-in due to not knowing where I was going haunting me, I was on "E" and below that last dial mark for way longer than I felt comfortable. Those two factors alone were enough to unnerve me even before we rolled into the assigned parking lot in a rush to sign in.
David hustling after sign-in.
After my sign-in I rushed back to my car and did what I could to get myself right before the start of the race. After slapping that trust warming gel on the legs and making sure my number race "6" wasn't a number "9," I rolled out with David to the port-a-potty and then off to the start line. The race was to be 5 laps around the hilly course with two 90 degree turns to keep everyone alert. There wasn't a flat spot on the road until the finishing stretch. It was a cold race and I was one, of only two, to have a go at this race again with no leg or knee warmers (How much are tickets to Belgium?)

They combined all of the fields into a single roll out. The Cat 4/5 field was certainly the largest with about 30 or so racers. With us, we had a small women's field and an even smaller Cat 1/2/3 field of four racers leading us out on the course. The 1/2/3s pulled away as we began our race with a brisk spin and it didn't take long for the race to get to business with the rush of a Pitt University rider taking the front on the first hill. The course was up and down the whole way and these hills would become very familiar to our stretching legs. There was some real accordion action going on with the peloton throughout the race with efforts really picking up on the harder sections and down the other sides, while calmer portions allowed for enough recovery to settle in to those behind.

This is where the race began complications for me. I was feeling strong, motivated and confident about this morning's race. It was not a terribly long race and in my mind, there is no reason why I couldn't have gone for the win. The length might just be that deciding factor however. Had this race been longer I doubt there would have been so much chaos on the finishing stretch because those who were continually  sagging on the tougher ascents would have cracked and a truly strong group would have decided the winner.

The race really erupted with 2 laps to go when that aforementioned University of Pitt racer thought the sign said 1 to go and he put a real dig attack at the front and opened up a gap on one of the tougher hills. Most were scrambling to keep up with that attack and I quickly moved past a lot of the racers finding myself one of the chasers of his short-lived break away. I was with maybe 5-6 racers and we worked well together to reel him and any other break away attempts back in. Note: I did not shy away from taking any pulls to close a gap as I knew nothing would stick and there would be time for recovery. Unfortunately, after our select group reeled in those attacks, we didn't keep the gas flowing as hard and were caught by a large chase group. I won't say at the time I minded so much as I knew I wasn't losing the race being part of a larger group, but in hindsight it would have been nice for us to continue to act with a sense of urgency. With either 2 or 1 to go we caught a straggler from the 1/2/3 race and he was of the "Spokes n Skis" team. They are the hosting bicycle club of the Hollidaysburg Spring Classics series and they certainly had strength in numbers for this race. I was happy to encourage us working together to catch any escapees, but the race was back together with 1 lap to go and no one was about to try to be a hero at this point.

The pace was still hard and my legs were feeling the efforts. I didn't have doubts about my ability and I was paying attention to wheels I wanted to follow when the finish was upon us. The problem was, there were so many to choose from.

Expectations: I listened to my gut. That Cat 1/2/3 rider we picked up, though he may have been on the same team as many of the contenders in our field, would prove the best wheel for me to follow when we it this finishing stretch. Certainly he knows the finish and would have a lot left in his tank for either a lead-out or just a good dig to the front. He goes - I follow, and whether I drop the hammer hard enough in a jump from his wheel to take the sprint or someone else just pips me at the line, I made the right move going to the front and not hesitating. No matter how many people are in the final field sprint, his wheel was mine and I took advantage of it in the best way

Reality: We swing onto the final stretch (that we did not ride through on any of the laps except for the roll out and the line hadn't even been drawn yet) and it's anyone's game. I see the Cat 1/2/3 racer right in front of me make dig to the front and put a little gap on everyone - no one takes his wheel. My hesitation is that it's just too far from the line and maybe someone else will follow this move that I can grab a wheel from. I don't know this finishing stretch and I have no clue where the finish line really is. I had been paying attention to the other strong riders throughout the race and there were any I could have taken. I know who had done long hard pulls on the front and who didn't suffer as bad as everyone else on the continuous hills. I am bobbing over the yellow line (center-line rule nulled) trying to pick a wheel that will take me to the line. The group is moving fast and everyone seems to have enough for the win. A surge on my right goes away and I am left dodging some of the riders now cracking from the sprint. I continue to accelerate and I see he line is now maybe 75 yards ahead with at least 5-8 riders still ahead of me. I believe I still pass more before I cross it and I am not happy with myself.

I played my cards right up until that finishing stretch. I should have gone with my gut instinct rather than left it to chance. I am mad I didn't go with that rider while I had the chance. He may not have had enough to take me to the line, but I certainly would have been better off to catch someone else's wheel up front rather than swinging around behind working for a lessor position. I may not have known the finish, but he did and a sharper mind would have told me to go with him. I had him and maybe two other racers I was looking to follow at the finish and I failed to really utilize any of them.

I am hard on myself and that is that. I am still learning lessons and I will take these and hopefully apply them to my next endeavors. On a more positive note, one of the Team Spokes N Skis racers told me at the start line that had read my post about Morgantown and mentioned that he actually picked up a tip from it that I unfortunately forgot to remember in my rush to get ready for this morning's start. He then whipped it out and dropped some liquid race-weight - when you gotta go.... I always appreciate readers and he is telling me I should race the Hollidaysburg Telpower race coming up in a few weeks that sounds a lot like another nice climbing race like Morgantown.  Anyway, it was nice to see and hear his kids cheering us all on marshaling a corner with his wife. On the last lap I definitely heard a "Go Daddy!" coming from those excited fans. It sounds like another serious climbing race like Morgantown! (Note: Today's race was not a climbing on in my opinion, but a punchy-hill one. Climbing races make you push and suffer much more than today.) We'll see how I feel after my next week of crits. The Team SNS riders are a good bunch and I do hope to see them in future races.

At this point, I am guessing as to my official race result. I could have ended up worse than 6th, but I don't think I was any further down than 8th. I will post up the official result when I can. Either way I am certainly happy that I did the race. It was a very well run and organized race and post -race soup and sandwiches was a very much appreciated touch! I made a joke this race when I saw a rider toss one of his unnecessary bottles from his bike a the start of the final lap. I yelled out "Like a Pro!" and no one else seemed to find this too funny as I guess things were supposed to get serious. I like to keep things light especially when I can tell others are suffering more than me (though none of that matter when I don't come out with a good result). I took off my extra cage last night knowing that carrying a second bottle in a race that would hover around an hour would be extra weight. Beyond garnering no laughs from my little exclamation, a hard effort was what I needed and a real check on my mental edge within the race is good to have.
By the numbers, I remembered to start my garmin at the race start and today's was about 24(.01) miles exactly with a max speed of 36.7 pmh and an average of 20.8 mph. I have a recorded time of 1 hour 9 minutes with a max hr of 189 bpm and an average of 159 bpm. Only 1703 ft of climbing with a max speed of 36.7 mph.
Pretty house I believe a friend may have been telling me about the other day that I was happy to see - back in Indiana.
Thanks for reading and I hope these climbing legs and lessons I'm acquiring will help me in the future. This racing is what I love and I'm excited to begin crit racing at the Bud harris Cycling Oval on Tuesday (on Wednesday nights I have class which has it's pluses and minuses) and the Steel City Showdown on Sunday. Oh baby!

OFFICIAL RESULTS: I took 9th not 6th. Not happy about that result at all, but I'm really prepping for this weekend.

Tomorrow is the infamous "Hell of The North," Paris-Roubaix race. This Queen of the Classics is a true test of a strong-man's will. I am excited to watch it live tomorrow morning from some live feeds presented by Cycling Fans. If you don't know about Paris-Roubaix, get familiar. This race makes legends out of cyclings very best and solidifies them in cycling history. I am entirely humbled by the true passion of everyone involved in this, the most difficult one-day race of the year. It will also be showing in prime time on Versus starting at 7pm for a 3 hour exclusive coverage of the race tomorrow evening. Oh baby baby!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Loner Status: Reflective?

I've been working up in my mind the appreciation I have living by myself and the perks it affords me. I can listen to whatever music I want, (I think I have good taste) I can ride my trainer as late as I need to, (papers are eating up my time) I can have over whomever I please, (friends all around anyway) what's mine is mine, (food - but also dishes), and there are a whole host of other things you can imagine I am appreciative of. I'm a single, male, 22 year old college student. My location in this Indiana of Pennsylvania couldn't be much better either.

But I'm not gonna run wild with this one. I will just briefly reflect upon this situation I have found myself in. Don't think I'm running without a leash in this town. I have realized I need to keep to myself to a degree, lest I run into some tough sights of yester-semester. Really, I just mean to say I am trying to appreciate as much of my young, free, single, cycling life I have left in this town. I am not going to say I'm not happy to be moving on, but there's a lot of what I will call "potential" that I can't help but wonder about  for my college life.

I'm not gonna dwell on anything beyond mentioning it. I live alone and I really enjoy that. I will be moving back in with my parentals and I am not about to complain. They have done so much for me and will graciously continue to. I do try to not take them for granted. Beyond that I do try to live in the moment.

I have pondered to the conclusion that maybe the reason why I have turned to blogging so much is in fact because I live alone. My old roommate, Spencer, is a character. Beyond being a really great, issueless roommate, we would often spend time just talking stuff we had going on and just communicated like human beings. It seems simple, but the stuff I am talking about now, I have shared with a few people recently, but certainly not in this detail.

Some people are meeting me at this time and I couldn't be happier. I am a very talkative person at the moment and I am positive throughout which makes me more outgoing. I consider myself to be a realist, but I know when to relax it... I think. Anyway, I have to let go of this topic and keep moving forward.

I've got the Holidaysburg Spring Classic road race this weekend to hustle. I will be bringing some new racers to that event and I hope the weather holds. I do know it will not be as tough as this past weekend in many respects. Thanks for reading. You and I are just getting to know each other, blogger.

Monday, April 4, 2011

That Moment...

…when Cancellara and Chavanel touched and held hands is, I believe, one of the most beautiful things in cycling one can witness. The two had been out on attacks all day. Each had their own moves and moments of possible glory. Yet, when they realized that their own solo efforts were not enough to shape the race alone, they shared a moment of absolute respect and strength not only to each other, but to the race, to the Classics, to the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, and to this beautiful sport of cycling. I absolutely love seeing such respect in the professional races and I believe it is something that grounds this as a gentleman’s/lady’s sport. I only hope to ride away in a break that deems such an honor. Whether we (my breakaway companion and I) are about to be swept up 5k from the finish, or know that it will be a one on one battle to the line, that is on the bucket list.

Also, the moment the lead group hit the final climb of the race, Philippe Gilbert attacked...
My heart goes out to the big hearted Belgian, Philippe Gilbert. His attack on the final climb to break the will of all humanity is why he is my absolute favorite cyclist.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Where's The Podium? #1: Morgantown Road Race - 4th

Let's start from the top. An afternoon race start time is key. JR Petsko's ABRA racing series is full of them and that alone is enough to make me want to keep coming back. It was with that in mind that I took the horrific weather with some reserved animosity. We could have been racing in the terrible snow, sleet, rain, and wind with not a prayer for sun early in the morning. Yet, all of that mixed in with a grueling "pain-cave" race made the Morgantown Road Race a race of great proportions with everyone involved. Myself, David Watkins and John Blank (after a clutch no-show opened up a spot for John) all raced in the Cat 4/5 race. I will say that although this race's distance was longer than I have ever raced, I believe the length allowed me to really figure out what it was that I needed to do. I had more time to read the race, judge my effort, and make my moves.
Looking at some other racers getting ready, the rain began to fall.. then a snow mix.
Slushy seat and bike
There I am warming up and this will lead nicely to me talking about the race and my tactics therein. I chose to pack no leg-warmers. I wasn't even going to consider it (channeling my inner Belgian). I wore my Elite Ozone warming gel and that was all that I needed. I will contend that I was the only one not wearing leg or knee warmers in all of the races and I am proud of that. That was part of my mental preparation... there was nothing that would stand in the way of me doing this race in the best way I could manage. It was going to be tough, leg-warmers or not and I have nothing to hide. Also note the Power Bar energy gel tucked on the quad. I had another slipped on the other side and that's where they stayed until use in the race.  I also decided against wearing my wind/water-proof jacket. I knew I would get cold, but I also knew my legs were the important component here. When we finally did get rolling after a 30 min delay for weather improvement, everyone was unsure of how things would unfold.

Rolling out, things were good and bad. Tough cold, wind, rain added to terrible road conditions with potholes that knocked many people's water bottles out (I almost lost one of mine) was the bad.  There was a lot of talking during the first 8 miles or so before a break happened with I'm guessing three or four riders and another trailing to bridge a gap to them. I will say that I would have probably tried to get with that break had I been able to move to the front, but I was sure glad to find out that staying in the peloton was just what I needed. I made it a goal of mine to go with any and every break that happened no matter what - afraid that the race would slip from me without my control. The peloton caught that break I believe on the first climb, but again I was not near the front so I am unsure of when that happened. Nonetheless, they were caught and another break was to go I believe on the 2nd climb (no one could control that one but those three).

Note about that 2nd breakaway: It stuck. They were all from the same team (TOMS... like Toms Shoes) and they admitted that they were just using the race to get points so that they could cat-up. I mean, I can accept that, but it kinda stinks to be racing below your level just for points. Apparently they actually started the race late, bridged up to the peloton, passed us all and took the 1-2-3. I fail to see how that is impressive when they could have raced in the Cat 3/4 race and challenged themselves with better competition. Enough said.... maybe.

With the breakaway gone the rest of the race was to be decided on the climbs and the rolling hills to the finish. I ended up finding myself with a nice group after the first climb. I believe David was at least there and it was at that point that I took my first energy gel and I suggested David do the same. The timing of my intake worked well for me. His proved to be a little more difficult as I believe we hit the second climb of the day struggling to open the thing and he was admittedly not ready for the horrid taste of banana-strawberry (it was all that was left when we shopped) bitterness. That second climb was a test indeed. A select group got away at that one and I was in the red to keep with them.

A lot was going through my mind at that point. Firstly, I thought that I just needed to limit my losses and tick away as hard as I could. Secondly, I needed to not give up. This race was not going to slip by me. Thirdly, I thought to make a joke with the others suffering by saying "I shouldn't have had all that candy at Halloween!" but I also  [fourthly] thought I might save that one. Fifthly, the thought of doubt came in the form of me wondering how I was going to handle the next climbs and bridging back the gap that was occurring and how much weight I wish I could have really lost during training. 

A gap certainly did occur and I had to bridge on the descent to keep with them. They were cooking and I was frying. Eventually I did come up on their wheels and recovered enough to give a few pulls to make sure we were not going to have too many others join us. It was clear that our work should not be done in groups of two or three, so eventually we formed a nice "chasing group," as they'd say, and worked together. Hitting the third climb was a brutal thing. We were all on the rivet and I would contend I was the worst. My pain-face was evident just sucking wind. I remember blurred vision just looking down at my front wheel; I suppose to make sure it was still rolling forward. Although I believe the pace was quicker on the second climb, energy stores were being tested on this third one and my legs were screaming. Yet, so were everyone else's (one must never forget). I fell off the wheels of my group again and knew that even after the summit, I would still have to work myself hard to catch them again.

The descents were sketchy. Wet pavement is one thing, but I am not used to such switchbacks. I don't know if they just look fast doing them in the pros, but I did my best to hold a line without skidding off-road. However, I didn't really have a problem with them and don't you think the only switchbacks were on the descents. Uphill switchbacks reminded me that these were the kind of climbs I have dreamed about killing. Though I surely hoped they wouldn't kill me.

I suffered to bridge the gap to my group of five and I wondered if I was burning too much of what I had left for the finish. Upon that thought my tactics came to mind. Instead of taking more pulls like I had done after the second climb, I decided I had better not just latch onto a wheel directly. Rather, I knew I needed to protect myself, my efforts, and my legs for when I needed them most. I trailed off the back a bit and did no more work than to remain as inconspicuous as possible (out of sight - out of mind) Now I do understand this kind of thinking and tactics. I was benefitting from the work of others and am no better than the Toms teammates taking advantage of a situation. Albeit, they chose to race an "easier" race for points. My move was a race time decision and it paid off. I got no complaints from the guys trading pulls and I tried to stay off the back just enough so as to hope they would think I was suffering more than I was and maybe even still trying to catch their group. I don't think I fooled anyone though.

Tactics are something I am very much focussed on this year. I want to race like I know what I am doing. I chose to take the race into my own hands and play it how I needed to. I did not take any wind for the last 10+ miles and I am okay with that. Some may call it cheap, I call it race tactics. It was within this time that I made sure I took my second energy gel, made sure that I was drinking a lot of my V8 Fusion/water mix in my bottles, and recover. I played my cards right and I am happy with how it turned out.

The last 2-3 miles I knew from the drive in. It was a relief to know where I was and what to look for through the finishing miles - crossing the state line from Pennsylvania into West Virginia. Those last two miles were testing for everyone in my group. The two guys who put the most effort in pushing the pace before this point got dropped by three of our group's members on the third to last roller within the final mile. I was still playing my patience card and kept to their pace as they slowly faded to a surge from those aforementioned three. I knew how close we were to the finish and I knew I needed to attack my waning lead-out and find more suitable wheels to follow before the road opened up at the "200m to go" mark where the yellow-line-rule was to be nulled for any sprint finish. I caught my three targets on the second to last roller and for some reason a straggler from the Cat 3/4 was following their wheels too. Upon bridging and recognizing (by not recognizing this rider from our breakaway) this atrocity I readily snapped at the rider to back off their wheels and I found my position at I believe third wheel with about 500m left. Once we rolled up on the last little roller to the slight uphill finish, I knew where to look for that "200m to go" sign and I quickly accelerated and swept to the left side of the road upon us passing that sign. I was surprised that no one in front of me had tried this move and I was happy to have it all to myself. I don't know what happened with the other riders of my group, but after I swung over, I took the sprint with strength and full confidence I had just taken 4th.
I had high spirits before and after the race. I felt confident in myself, my training, preparation, and mental state. I was excited to just be racing and I wanted the race to be a learning experience above all. Beyond that, I wanted to work not only my legs for a result, but also my tactics and mental game. They say that it is not always the strongest that wins a race, but sometimes the smartest. I believe I played this one right and I got the "win" I wanted. I am not a "climber," but I made it work out. I knew that my pull after the third climb was not necessary unless someone in my group was to yell at me for not doing any work. We were not going to be caught by anyone behind and I knew I needed to do my best to recover. I do wish it could have been for the top spot on the podium, but I am happy with my result. My bike needs a shower.

Looking ahead to other races, I believe I just need to try to remain consistent. Continue and believe in my training, remain patient, and going with my gut during a race. There is no need to go into the red for a pull when I have a greater concern - the finish line.
Great race and I look forward to the next ABRA event.
David finished 25th in his first ever bicycle race and I am not sure where John Blank finished yet. As a team I believe we are happy about the race and I am most certainly looking forward to the next weekend. I will update as I see fit. Thanks for reading!

Other info about race: Unfortunately, I forgot to start my garmin right when the whistle blew so I lost the first few miles of the race, but my average speed was 20.2 mph, max heart rate was 191 bpm with an average hr at 161 bpm, I had an average cadence of 88 rpm, and the total ascent was 3199 ft for my recorded 47.95 miles. The official race results can be found HERE For the race my official finishing time was 2 hours 24 minutes and 28 seconds, but think about this... the finishing time of the Cat 1,2,3's race was 2 hours 8 minutes 55 sec. We all had ~50 miles to do so yeah; I have a long way to go. I did win $20 though!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Beginning is Here

This will be a short post. I am packed, fed and ready for tomorrow's first race of my third cycling season! I'm very excited and happy again to have the opportunity to race my bicycle. Thank you all for reading through the winter boredom. Tomorrow is what I have been working for and it's just beginning. I will look to learn a lot from tomorrow. It is a type of race that will challenge everyone. Perfect. I have just finished my pre-race-day dinner and am all packed for the morning.
The races start at noon. We've got a 2 hour drive to get there and I'm aiming for us to leave around 8-8:30.
I've got a big smile on my face right now and some sleep to catch. Thanks again for reading. Look for a race report "Where's The Podium?" post after tomorrow.