Monthly Archives: December 2007

Back on track

Finally a chance to post.  Holiday travels to Michigan and the social obligations of the season make finding time difficult. So, what do you do? Wake up at 5:00am. Nice and quiet as the snow falls.

The running is finally getting back on track. After trying to log some moderate distance miles of 7-9 miles, I’m starting to get a base to do more.  Did the first “long run” of the Boston training cycle on Sunday. Typically, anything 16 miles or over is considered a long run, and I went 17 miles. The first half was pretty easy (7:30 to 7:45/mile), and then pushed it over the second half (6:45 to 7:00/mile) . It felt pretty good, and I am able to walk today. On days that are good weather, good footing, and you feel good, you have to take advantage of it.  Tough to think that my longest run will hopefully be 6 miles longer than that, but it is still “early.”

In my attempt to become more well rounded, I got skate skis and went out to Weston to give it a try.  Pure comedy.  Luckily I ran into another MRC’er that is new at it and we tried to make our way around the slushy track.  Weston is nice, but a bit pricey (compared to Great Brook).  Nice thing about classic XC skiing is that you can just plop your skis down and go. Skating requires a track to ski on.  So, plopping down money can be a requirement.  I plan on become competent enough to do some races, but losing handily.

I like being a newbie.  No expectations, no pressure, just the enjoyment of the activity. The learning curve is steep, but so is the acquisition of skills.  Able to make large strides in a short amount of time. I find myself sitting here last night hoping for snow.  That’s just weird for me.  I have recently developed a distaste for the winter months because it interferes with most of my activities. Having one that is winter-dependent is nice.

Last day of the year.  2007 generally was kind of lousy on a personal front, with a lot of trials and tribulations, which included the loss of two pets. On an athletic front, it was pretty good, with a couple of cross wins, an upgrade, continued improvement in tris, qualifying for the Team USA to the ITU Long Course Worlds, and general good times. Looking forward to having the good time roll.

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Motown

Every time I come back to Detroit, the place seems a little more depressing.  Must be the “Back East” snobbery setting in.

 I did get a chance to venture to Rochester and run with my friend Laura. We’ve run together for years, back when I first started training for marathons.  She was a four time All American, 2 times Olympic trials qualifier, and all around fast person.  She is still a fast person, having just been on the XC Nationals Female Master winning team.  Here’s a picture of Laura kicking my butt in 1998 at the Reindeer Run. 

Rochester is a pretty cool place.  Hilly for SE Michigan.  Fun to run out there, except with the snow they’ve received, we were not able to hit some of the nice running trails in the area.  Otherwise, I’m running on pancake flat featureless suburbs.  Ugh.

Everyone in MRC seems to be catching the XC ski bug (watch out Colin!!).  We hope to bring the same level of quality competition to XC skiing as we do to everything else (tongue firmly planted in cheek).  I’m actually looking forward to getting home and getting going with the cross training (before I goto India). 

Today, heading off to Royal Oak (another old haunt).  I used to live there, and it is a cool area to grab some food and walk around.  It’s not Newbury Street, but I never go to Newbury Street, so what do I know?  Not much.

16 Weeks to go

With the end of cross season with the cancellation of Natz Schmatz, I’ve turned my attention to the Boston Marathon. Last year I had a DNS due to illness and crappy weather. Year before that I ran with a 100+ degree fever (not recommended).   Year before that it was around 85F. Year before that I think I was injured.  You get the picture. If it wasn’t so close to my house, I think I would get the point and avoid Boston altogether.

I went out for a 14 mile run yesterday on the course starting at Boston College, going to Mile 15, and then back to Mile 22.  Stupendous fun.  Ran the first 4 1/2 with the guys, and then solo the rest of the way.  Nice and slow.  I think I averaged around 7:40s.  Interesting to think that for my longest training run, I should add 10 more miles onto that. Thankfully, the race is 16 weeks away.

It was kind of nice doing an activity that required shoes and clothes. No gear needed. In fact, gear won’t help you here.  More expensive shoes aren’t necessarily better. No carbon fiber, no titanium, no weight weenies, gear hounds, and no wallet advantage. Just run (although I was wearing my GPS!).  Something very pure in running.

16 more chances for long runs, 16 chances for speed work, 16 chances for tempo runs. Now I am down to 15 more long run opportunities (less if you add in the taper).  When put into those terms, one can get panicky.  One way to avoid panic is to do the workouts. You don’t want to be in Hopkinton thinking “what if I did more _____?”.

Blame it on Thailand

Those astute observers of my race on Sunday would have noticed that I won the thing on a pit wheel. While Zipp 404s aren’t bad, I do like my Ksyriums with the Challenge Grifos on them. I glued them with help from a team mate, and they have served me well all season. However, a major drawback of the Grifos was one of them came with a long stem, while the other came with a short stem. This is a problem since I could not get a pump on the short stem one without losing lots of air or using an adapter.

So, I am pumping up my tire on Sunday and trying to take the adapter off when the valve snaps. About 15 minutes before my race. After a quick visit to the pit and a trial run of the Zipp, off I went into the history books.

Today I cruised by Landry’s to see if anything could be done for the tire. Verdict is that the stem can’t be replaced. Let’s call Bikeman and see what can be done since this is where I bought it. I’m told by the very helpful people at Bikeman that they get the tires they way they are produced at the factory in Thailand. The batches that they’ve been getting have short stems on them. The only way to fix them is by taking the valve core out, putting an extender on it, etc., etc., etc.

However, all is not lost! I am told that there is a service called Tire Alert that will fix your tubbies. So, I am left with a tubbie that is in need of a new tube and resew. It just so happened that when the tire was deflated there was some peelage going on at one part of the tube. I was actually able to peel the tire off the rim by hand in the store. Hmm, looks like I was living on borrowed time. But, they lasted a whole season without rolling off the rim, which is more than I can say for A LOT of people, and you know who you are.

Searching around the web for some OUTSTANDING deals on the Grifos didn’t turn up anything too spectacular. But, it is the end of the season. I have plenty of time to think about it and plan my next move.

Take Two!

That’s a long day driving back and forth to Warwick to race. By the time I got home on Saturday, it was daddy time, with no time for a nap or much rest. Plus, it is my wife Lara’s b-day on Monday, so we dropped the kids off with friends and went out for dinner. Didn’t get to bed till about 10:30pm, with a 4:00am alarm set. Ugh. Another long day on Sunday.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to do the drive alone. Picked up Scott S. to trek down for Sunday. Good thing about going down to the same venue location is that you don’t have to worry about getting lost. When we got down, the course from yesterday was now today’s parking lot. So I guess the course is going to be different.

Fate would have it that we parked basically next to Skip Medeiros and the crew from Scottee’s Westport Bicycle. Skip and I battled all day yesterday with me taking the win and Skip pushing me all the way. We would end up spending a lot of time together during the race today.

Course was pretty different, although some of the sections were the same. A lot more twisty in between trees, with longer sand sections and shorter road sections, with a downhill finish. You can check out the course and the first lap of the 3/4 Masters from Mike Lowry’s buttcam.

Doing the warmup, I couldn’t figure out where I was going because part of the course from yesterday was run in the opposite direction today.

I registered early so I was on the front row again. I looked around to see who was where, and saw Skip who gave me a nod. The start was a little hairy in that we rocketed on road into a 180 degree turn left into another 180 degree right turn that went into the first sand section and first run-up. Getting into the sand in good position would be key. Since it was an open road start, I was able to be about 8th wheel going into the sand.

A common theme for the course was a little technical skills went a long way, especially on the sand. Drawing from my repeated viewing of cross races on cycling.tv, I felt pretty comfortable on the sand despite not having raced on it for all year in this form where it was actually rideable. I was able to ride past other guys in my group, hit the run-up with momentum, grab the bike by the down tube, shoulder, sprint, and remount into around first place.

The run-up was followed by a steep downhill onto the road and into a set of uphill barriers. I was now in the lead, with a group of three right behind: Roger Goulart (Scottee’s), Matt Theodore (Cape Cod Cyclist/E-Caps), and Skip. Having two guys on another team was a little disconcerting, so I decided to really hit the gas on the power sections. I noticed that I had the sand dialed in better than the other in our group, so I used that as an opportunity to put in a gap, while they were able to rail the corners faster.

I was hoping to push the gap and the pace so that others would make mistakes by taking risks trying to catch up. This happened around a hairpin from dirt to pavement where Skip lost a wheel and slid out. This was right before the finish line and long road section. So, I went into time trial mode and hammered the biggest gear I had, almost overcooking the corner.

I had a pretty good gap going into the sand and into the run-up. On the remount, I spaced out and missed my f’ing saddle. In the process, my bike twists and slams into the dirt and I end up on the ground. Rule number 1: Do not lose focus!! I grab my bike and remount, only to notice my left shifter is now at a 45 degree angle on my handlebar from the 90 degrees it should be. Uh oh. And my left shifter is set up Euro style, meaning that it controls my back break. And I’m going into the steep downhill into barrier section.

I don’t need to shift out of the big chain ring since I’ve been running that all day. But, the brakes could come in handy. A quick check shows they work, but I have to position my hand at 45 degrees to use them. Now I’m back into second or third place after the group caught up to me, and we have 2 laps to go. It’s going to be a dog fight.

Roger goes in front on a fast section, so I’m thinking they’re going to do the 1-2 on me. I am able to gap them again on the second sand section into the lead again. I’m holding the lead into the bell lap, trying to build my gap. The bike is holding together, although it is a bit awkward to brake. Into the barriers the last time, and Roger shoots past me like a rocket. After the race, he said he didn’t hit the brakes. I guess not, because now I’m second.

Thinking about the rest of the course, I know I’ve been a lot faster on the sand, so I sit and wait, saving some energy. We hit the sand with me in second wheel, and I hammer it, riding up until the short hill. I notice out of my peripheral vision he had to dismount much earlier. So, I’m now back into first. I have to keep the pressure on.

I rail a corner a little wide and brake a stake. I go into the steep downhill uphill mulch pit, and my right foot clips a stake. I hear Richard Fries say “And Gary David baubles on the descent, but keeps it up right!!” I know Roger is on my tail pretty close, but there are not real good sections to pass me from here on out. I am trying to keep it fast but in control while he is trying to catch up. Keep the door closed on the inside into the turns, accelerate hard out. Repeat.

We hit the final turn onto the pavement and I have enough of a gap to now that he is not going to pass me. Richard Fries announces my back to back wins and I pump two fingers into the air. Matt takes third.

Best moment of the race (besides winning) was when I hear Richard announce that the Minuteman Road Club is leading the 3/4 Masters and the Cat 4 race, with Steve Wright earning the BadAss award for winning with a broken wrist that he did half way through the race. Unreal stud.

I was able to celebrate with my MRC team mates. Rob had a nasty cut on his knee. Steve a broken wrist. I had a few layers of skin taken off my shin by my back tire grinder on the missed dismount. But, we had two victories, which would turn into three when Tommy Gougen won his race, with Christina taking second in her race. A great performance by the MRC crew, which has now turned into some kind of cross team.

Here are the partial results:

3/4 Masters
1 Gary David (Minuteman Road Club) 32.41
2 Roger Goulart (Scottee's Westport Bicycle)
3 Matthew Theodore (Cape Cod Cyclist/E-Caps) 0.11
4 Chris Brown (Corner Cycle) 0.27
5 Mitchell Medeiros (Scottee's Westport Bicycle)*
6 Christopher Cyr (Bikeman.Com) 0.50
7 Jack Hayden (Essex County Velo) 1.08
8 Derek Griggs (Recycled Sports)* 1.10
9 Robert Carmen (Team International Bike Club, Boston) 1.28
10 James Paterson* 1.39

SHAZAM!!!!


The last time that I raced CX in RI was Nationals, when a double flat saved me from the a$$-kicking I was getting in the 35-39 race. With those happy memories, I ventured back down for the first of a two day adventure at Goddard Park. I hadn’t had time all week to ride my CX bike, putting time in on the trainer watching World Cup races on cycling.tv. Lack of prep time means one of two things: Good race or bad race.

This was a new course at this park, so no one knew what to expect. Rich P. and I arrived at 7:30 to see the course still being strung. There was a coating of snow on the frozen ground. I’ve never ridden a bike on snow (almost literally true). This is going to be interesting.

After changing in the heated (and still relatively unused) heated bathrooms, Rich and I made our way to the course. Our start was tenuous at best. Not being sure how fast or sharp to take the corners meant a slow warm-up lap.

The course itself was very cool actually, and had my name all over it. It was wide enough for almost constant opportunities for passing. There was not too much elevation change either. It started on a road that was slight uphill that went for about 1/2 mile until it hit smooth grass. A series of tight turns in trees followed up a tricky tight off-camber right (made the more tricky because of the frozen tundra). Straight section into a tight left-right combo, followed by another straight section into a hairpin-right turn combo. This led to another straight (more or less) that was slightly downhill into a sweeping right leading us to the beach.

The beach was very rideable in warmup because it was frozen. But, by game time, it had loosened up meaning you had to do a quick run and remount. A few more turns into a tricky off-camber steep downhill into a run-up and hairpin steep downhill. This led to a long road section (yeah!) followed but a short climb, series of turns, another off-camber, round the gazebo, down to the road again, two lefts and to the finish.

All in all, this course should be blazing fast. But, the snow and icy ground was going to complicate things immensely. After a decision to go to the spikes, I made by way to the start as they were starting the call-ups. Have to work on that timing.

Front row start, which really didn’t matter because the road was so wide there were only three rows. I commented to another person that it was the most starting room we have had. We start and I am shocked to find myself third wheel. I always wondered what I could do if I had a decent start, and now I get to find out. As we approach the grass, I think to myself “Self, you’ve never led onto the grass before” and accelerate around the two guys to be in first place. And I’m building a lead. And, as the Europeans say, I had good sensations in my legs.

But, we hit the Cat 4s right away. Way in God’s name do they have us start behind the Cat 4s is beyond me. Now, it is not a Cat 3/4 35+ race; it is a Cat 3/4 35+ AND Cat 4 race. This shuts down my forward progress and I try to go around people and a few guys in my race catch back up.

Hitting the beach, I decide to ride it after watching the race in Koksijde 5 times. I actually do ride the sand and steep grass hill out of it, but I have to go so wide that I lose two spots and am not in third. Whoops. I jump back on second place and we’re hammering through the 4s, when he skids out on an off-camber. I narrowly miss riding over his hand and arm. Luckily, because it was an off-camber, he slid out of my way. I just on first place and away we go.

We’re railing around the course pretty good, a classic match-up. He is strong in the turns and I am strong on the power sections. We keep getting caught up with 4s who insist on cutting between us. Note to any 4s reading this: if people from another race pass you, and they are leading, do not interfere with them! How do you know they are not in your race? LOOK AT THE GD NUMBERS ON THEIR JERSEY!!!

We’re going into the steep off-camber downhill-uphill combo. A 4 go skidding down in front of me, and another piles into him. I stop in time to avoid going down, but my back tire is out of the drops and rubbing. After I run-up I have to stop, undo the skewer, re-align the wheel, tighten the skewer, and go. Now 1st place is away from me by about 20-30 seconds. Damn! Time to time trial.

I am able to make some ground up little by little, and then “Ding-ding-ding” bell lap. WTF??? We have only been racing for 20-some minutes. It is supposed to be a 40 minute race. And we are not doing 10 minute laps. I power up the hill, with Richard Fries yelling “THE PROFESSOR IS RIPPING THROUGH THE PACK.” Arms resting on the center of the bars, I am all in. Time to catch 1st place.

I get to his wheel just about as we’re getting to the grass. Decision time: do I sit and let him lead, or throw down and go past him? Again, a voice from cycling.tv says when Bart Wellens caught the group at Koksijde, “My favorite tactic is to go right to the front after chasing back on.” Alright then, away we go. I rocket past him hard, drawing from a running tactic of trying to demoralize by putting in an aggressive surge. I gap him as we go into the trees.

I know that he is better in the turns, but if he wants to pass, it is going to hurt. Out of every corner I hit the gas. Those intervals on the trainer are starting to pay off. Rev it up and go. We are now flying as we pass more 4s. I’ve never led into the last lap. I am just focusing on the course and the ride, running clean lines and accelerating like mad. Once we hit the road, I am gone. I look back and I see a bigger gap. Time to move and put it away. Through the off-cambers, round the gazebo, and back to the road. Time to look back, adjust the jersey, arms in the air as Richard says something like “The Professor gets an A for this race today!”

Only a 33 minute race! We could have had time for one more lap, but that’s cool. I talked to second place afterward at the podium, and he said, “When you went by me, I thought “Oh F–k, where did he come from? I thought you were done.” Turns out we had about 1:00 on the rest of the 3/4s 35+ crew. And he’s 45+. Absolutely a strong technical rider. But today, it was my course.

Page Finding Traction

I don’t know who else where there, but this is good to see:

Ciclocross Internacional Asteasu – C2

Asteasu (Guipúzcoa), Spain, December 6, 2007

Results

1 Sven Nys (Bel) Rabobank
2 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job
3 Radomír Simunek (Cze) Palmans-Cras
4 Jonathan Page (USA) Sunweb Pro Job
5 Constantino Zaballa (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne

Hopefully some more good results for NE’s (or New Belgium’s) own. Check out his site.