Monday, October 27, 2008

LIVESTRONG 2008: Part Three - The Ride

Part Three:
Upon arriving in Austin, after a pretty serious "Field of Dreams" traffic jam, Greg and I happened upon Chris Snyder in the parking area a just few feet from where we parked the Eurovan. Sheer luck, especially since we didn't know he rode for/with TeamMBA. So Greg, Chris and I headed over to the start point together. Chris signed up for the 90 mile ride, I believe, but was going to ride 65 instead because of some knee pain. When we got to the start point, he stayed with us with the 45 milers. It was nice to have him along.

As mentioned previously Greg and I switched from 90 to 45 miles due to logistics. In hindsight, we could have easily managed the 65 mile ride, as we had plenty left in the tank at the end of 45, but the 45 mile decision was right on, because Greg blew his rear cluster at mile 43 and that would have been a bummer on the 65 mile course.

We found Marci and the other TeamMBA 45 milers up ahead of us just as were being staged after the 65 milers split, so we moved up to them and said hello right before we were sent off. We left as one group in team colors. Very cool.

I must mention at this point that the Livestrong Challenge ride was the most organized, rider-friendly event I've ever been part of. Every detail made you feel important as a rider. The Powerstops are legendary: porta-potties, massage, food, bike mechanics and espresso station. Peanut butter and jelly never tasted so good! The espresso was also awesome!

The ride started out normally enough - real slow going for the first 4 miles or so, and then the climbs started and it started to spread out. Mostly nice rollers, up and down all day long, with only two climbs I would consider "burners". Everything else was pretty straightforward. It was less demanding than I thought it was going to be. I big ringed at least 75% of the climbs and was amazed that so many people were in their small rings.

The aforementioned Road Tubeless wheels and tires were superb! Apparently there was a lot of chipseal on the ride, but I didn't feel it. Those cattleguards in the road (bastards!) would have def invoked a pinch flat, or two, on my old wheelset, but the tubeless shrugged them off with ease. The wheels are also lighter than my old WH-550's, so they climbed pretty darn well. Pedal strokes easily translated into forward motion. I believe they are a significant advance in cycling technology and I highly recommend them.

The wheels climbed so good in fact, that I found myself dropping folks who appeared to be a lot fitter than myself (or they were at least lighter) on virtually every climb. And that garnered some strange looks! I even climbed one roller at 32mph, and that was surreal because there was a whole line of people spinning away on their small rings chugging up the hill. They MUST have thought I was on EPO. Greg even road up to me at one point and asked me why I was attacking all the time, and I responded that this was the way you are supposed to ride rolling hills - if you don't do them with some pace and take advantage of the momentum gained of the downhills, you will die a slow death climbing a million little hills.

Once we were over the top of the climbs, Greg, Chris and I often laid the hammer down pace-line style, with Greg doing his usual duty at the front. However, even I pulled at the front a few times, as I felt the pace dip a time or two, and I was on good form. So much for the "weasel" nickname! Chris was his usual strong self, humming along on the steel Colnago.

Over the back half of the course we really made some time. At mile 36 or so, Chris was having problems with his cable adjuster just when I started to feel good on a climb, and was starting to rev it up. I thought Greg was ahead of me by a hundred yards (he was actually behind me) so I laid the hammer down to catch "him". When I caught that dude and realized it wasn't Greg, I continued laying down the rubber, what else was I going to do? I was pushing about 28mph on the flats, just flying, passing people left and right. What can I say, I was having a good day! In fact, it was the best day I have had on the bike since my last race in 1997!

However at about mile 40, my right calf cramped (the result of driving straight through a few hours earlier - constant pressure on the accelerator). So I unbuckled my right foot from the pedal and rode one-legged for a half mile or so while I stretched out the calf. Greg and Chris caught me shortly thereafter (Greg was actually about 100 yards behind me) matching my speed on the flats.

My leg felt better the harder I rode, so we were soon back at it plugging away together towards the finish. At about mile 43 or so, Greg's rear cluster came apart. He limped home on the one gear that worked reliably and we all finished pretty much together shortly thereafter. The finish was awesome, like the end of a time trial in the Tour de France or something.

My computer indicated we did 46 miles in 2:57 with an average speed of 15.5 mile per hour. Without the obstacles of the slower masses at the start and slower folks ruining our lines on the descents, I figure we could have laid down 17.5 mph without much additional effort.

But hell, its not a race, it's a party on wheels. Who cares about time other than Lance? Next year we plan to do 90, but I tell you now, I am going to enjoy those Powerstops more! Party!

After the ride, we said our goodbyes, cleaned ourselves off, and all three of us made the pilgrimage to the Saltlick for barbecue. As advertised it was the best barbecue we have had in Texas, outpacing Main St, Bakers and Red Hot and Blue. The attention to detail on every item was excellent. We took more pictures inside the Saltlick than we did at the ride! When we were done, Greg and I said goodbye to Chris and we headed back to Dallas - mission accomplished.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all those who donated to my ride this year. I know times are tough and I appreciate your financial sacrifice and I hope i did you all proud. We had a heck of a time, but it was demanding physically, especially since I had to pull an all-nighter to make it to the start on time. Next year I plan to get to Austin at least a day in advance and rest before the ride - and visit the Saltlick before AND after the ride!

I believe the Austin Livestrong ride made 3.7 millions dollars this year and that is a testament to the generosity of all of you and the belief that together we can affect change.

Until next year...Livestrong!!

LIVESTRONG 2008: Part One - Fundraising

This post will be in three parts:
1. Fundraising
2. New Hoops
3. The Ride

Part One:
One of the reasons why I had never done Livestrong in the past (or any charity rides for that matter) is I am a notoriously poor fundraiser. I'm not good at it, don't enjoy it, and am aware that the folks in my sphere of influence are not the most liquid, and not in a position to donate lots of money.

However, I decided to do Livestrong this year as a tribute to my brother-in-law Benny's wife Judy, who died of cancer this year after a very brief illness. I felt so powerless as she was dying, and even more so after she passed, and I basically said "enough is enough" and decided to do something to help cancer research, so that others would not have to lose their loved ones in such a brutal manner.

The fundraising turned out to be an okay experience and I almost met my goal of $1250. (It's not too late to contribute, so if you want to help me meet my goal click here and jump in).

My advice to others who may hate fundraising? Forget it. Just jump in and do it! Whatever discomfort you may experience fundraising is nothing in comparison to what people who have cancer are going though. Man (or woman) up!! If I can do it, any yutz can.

LIVESTRONG 2008: Part Two - New Hoops

Part Two:

In anticipation of riding Livestrong, I decided to upgrade my wheels to something really nice, since my current set of Shimano 105's have over 4500 miles on them and they are getting kinda tired. After meeting a few people who were riding (and raving over) Dura Ace Road Tubeless, I decided to upgrade to this technology for my new hoops. I had been lowballing wheel auctions on ebay for about 3 months and finally got lucky the Wednesday before Livestrong. No way they would leave California on Thursday and get to Dallas by Saturday (unless I wanted to pay, like, $200 to Fed Ex - which defeats the purpose of winning a low-ball auction) so I accepted the fact that I'd have to ride my current rig and paid just $15 shipping by USPS (the seller's preference).

To my utter surprise, the wheels arrived on Saturday after my training ride! WTF!! A quick call to Performance Bike revealed they do not locally stock the Hutchinson tubeless tires required. I made a quick jaunt to my local RBM, and luckily they had them in stock, but unluckily they were $15 more expensive (full retail) per tire than Performance. No discount for riding Livestrong either.

The tires went on real easy. No problems there. I also squirted in some sealant as recommended. And they pumped up no problems either - just used my regular old pump. And they held air!! So I decided their maiden voyage had to be Livestrong, and I moved the rear cluster over from my other wheels and mounted them to my bike. I was a little nervous not having ridden these wheels at all before an important event, but I had faith in the system.

Now, in order to pay for these wheels (which cost me $750 for everything when all was said and done), I took had to take on an extra $$ gig. Unfortunately, the gig was the Saturday night before Livestrong, which meant that I'd have to do the live event, come home and prep my kit, then drive to Austin, and then ride the event (and then since Greg's wife is ready to have her baby we'd have to get our barbeque, and then immediately return to Dallas by 4:30pm).

Yikes! This meant we had to change our plans from 90 miles to 45 miles. More on that later.

So at 3:15 am, we were "south bound and down", the Eurovan loaded and the iTunes pumping out Willie Nelson's "Heartaches of a Fool".

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pez column: Winter training regimen, or old myths debunked

Toolbox: Off-season Myth Busters

by Josh Horowitz

If it works for the gang at Discovery Channel (the actual TV company, not the former cycling team), then it’s good enough for us here at Pez. Since we’re on the off-season theme, Josh has decided to tackle some of his pet peeve off-season training myths and give his perspective. The truth or old-school bahooey? Read and decide for yourself.

I can already tell you that I’m going to get some flak on this one, perhaps even from my fellow Tool Box writers. But I have some strong feelings about winter training techniques, the misconceptions and hard to die old school attitudes, and it’s time to get it out on the table.

Bear in mind, that there is more than one way to skin a cat. These are training techniques that, through my research as well 19 years of racing and training experience, I believe to be flawed. Some coaches may have found effective ways to incorporate these techniques into their training program and that is just fine, but for me there is no better way to throw away your training time than by following these outdated methods. So enough with the disclaimers, let’s get to work.

Myth #1: Riding a fixed gear improves pedaling efficiency and leg speed.

I might as well get the big one out of the way first. Fixed gear bikes are a great toy for tooling around town, cruising the beach, or propping up for all to see outside the coffee shop, but they have no place in a serious road cyclist’s training routine, unless your primary goals are riding on the velodrome. Here’s why:

• When you practice high cadence training on your road bike you are forced to recruit the muscle fibers that are necessary for quick contractions in the pattern required to keep the pedals moving. However, on a fixie, the pedals are always spinning in perfect circles at very high speeds no matter how sloppy or inefficient your stroke is. Your muscles aren’t required to act, they are really only required to react.

• Riding a fixed gear is the exact opposite of riding PowerCranks, whose advantage has been proven repeatedly on this very site. PowerCranks require your muscle fibers to fire throughout the 360 degree pedal stroke. You are required to push across the top, push down in the front, pull across the bottom and pull up in the back. Your pedal stroke may slow temporarily, but the muscular foundation becomes so solid that it only takes a few weeks of high cadence on your road bike to turn the strength you built on the PowerCranks into power.

• Compared to a fixed gear, even on a regular road bike, your muscle fibers are forced to fire in a very efficient manner. At the very least, you’ll have the experience of pushing down and, to some extent, controlling the movement throughout the pedal circle. On a fixed gear, the bike is literally doing all the work for you. You’re really not teaching your legs anything but to get tossed around at ridiculous speeds. Think about a gym member who takes indoor cycling classes which utilize a large heavy fly wheel. They may get their legs whipped around in crazy circles at a cadence of up to 140 rpm, but have you ever seen them achieve this on a real bike? Trust me, it doesn’t translate.

As a final proof, I offer you up this most recent example. Every year, I finish my season on the track. Last night I wrapped things up with the Points Race at Elite Nationals. Even though I geared up to a 50 x 14, due to the increased competition (Garmin Chipotle, Health Net, Rock Racing), I still spun out at about 150 rpm on some of the sprint laps. When I jumped back on my road bike today, however, I felt like I was chopping broccoli. My legs became so accustomed to the forced circles of the track bike that they became lazy, losing the ability to do the work themselves.

Just like with anything in cycling, skills are extremely specific. If you plan on racing on a fixed gear then it makes sense to train on one. If you plan on racing on the road, train on your road bike or, even better, do you winter base on PowerCranks, teaching your muscles to fire in absolute perfection and coordination, and then switch to your ride bike just a few weeks before race season. Save the fixie for the high school kids riding in tight jeans.

Myth #2: Small Ring Only!

As recently as four years ago, I knew coaches and riders who still adhered to this outdated winter training principle. I’m not sure how common it still is today. This is a really simple training concept - put it in the small chain ring on October 1st and don’t shift up until February 1st. Since I didn’t create this technique, and I don’t use it, I can’t tell you exactly what purpose it serves but I can take a guess and I can also tell you why it’s not such a great idea.

My guess is that it was a way for coaches to keep their riders from going too hard in the off season. The idea is that if the rider can’t go into the big ring, he won’t be tempted to hammer the group rides or participate in the club sprints. I also figure the theory is that an entire winter of high cadence, riding will result in a perfect pedal stroke by the time race season comes along.

Here’s why I disagree with this principle. Leg speed can be easily developed at any point in the season. You could even do a heavy load of leg speed training immediately before a high priority race. The reason is that it doesn’t tax your muscular system, your heart or your lungs. In essence, it is really training your brain.

What you can’t do at any point in the season is train strength. Training muscular strength will temporarily slow you down, cause fatigue and require several days of recovery. Can you think of a time of the year where quick recovery and road performance is not at all important? At what point in the season can we afford to destroy our muscles without worrying about getting hammered into the ground at the local race? I think you see where I am going here.

So if you’re my client, it’s the small chain ring that gets tossed out the window during winter training, as you’ll be pedaling at 70-75 rpm (ideally on PowerCranks) for the whole winter. Your legs will feel like blocks of cement and you’ll be struggling on the Friday coffee ride. Then, before your first race, you’ll do two weeks of high cadence and when you’re standing on the podium, I can guarantee your teammates who saw you struggling two weeks earlier will be calling for a blood test.

Myth #3: Long Slow Distance

It won’t be long before I hear the Shofar blow over the cycling club e-group as the troops are rallied to meet for the Long Slow Distance rides up the coast. I have to muffle a scream every time I see 6 hr per week weekend warriors heading out for their 3 hr long slow weekend ride.

Even if you had 45 hrs per week to ride and you plan on doing 21 day stage races, I still wouldn’t recommend this style of training. But if you only have 12 hrs per week to train and you’re wasting half of it rolling down the avenue at 16 mph, you’re losing valuable training time. As I’ve always said, you have to get the most out of every second you’re on the bike. We have another word now for LSD or Long Slow Distance. It’s called JM: Junk Miles.

Originally it was thought that since high stress training breaks down blood capillaries and since capillary density means more blood to working muscles, it is advisable to avoid any high stress training in the winter so to nurture the growth of those capillaries.
However, there’s a new concept now in European endurance training. It’s called MP: Motor Pacing!

Sounds a little more intriguing than anything with the word SLOW in it, right? The concept behind MP is that it teaches your body speed and keeps you firing at an extreme endurance intensity, just below anaerobic threshold. Essentially, it is what some call zone 3 and they do it for up to six hours a day. If you have a loving spouse who doesn’t mind driving along at 28 mph, three hrs a day, causing massive traffic jams everywhere you go, then you’re all set.

For the rest of us, you can simulate this on your own. The challenge is the focus it takes to keep the pace just right. These rides are done just above endurance pace and just below anaerobic threshold. You must concentrate the entire time to make sure you don’t go above or below. I strongly recommend doing these rides on your own with a heart rate monitor or power meter as your guide.

Here in Los Angeles, we have this amazing phenomenon. When I leave my house at 9am to head North on the PCH, there is a blessed tailwind. Then, right around noon when I grab a snack and head back, the wind magically turns around with me. The end result is six glorious hours in the saddle with an average speed of close to 25 mph. Not bad for a solo ride. You might not have anything quite like this where you live, but see if you can come up with a ride that incorporates these principles. One warning though. It is very easy to become overtrained if you spend too much time in Zone 3. Make sure you are recovered completely between workouts and keep track of your resting heart rate in the morning.

As the mercury plummets to 63 degrees here in Los Angeles, I wish you a happy start to your winter training.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Product Review: Wheelbuilder Aero Wheel Cover

All of the racing I do is in the form of either bike Time Trials or Triathlons. Both events (depending on course and conditions) lend themselves toward aerodynamic efficiency, since the focus is on individual performance rather than pack/team strategy. Without a peloton to protect you from the wind, aerodynamics can play a big role in results. Think about the difference in your effort level being on the front of a pack, versus being in the 3rd position or farther back....right, Scot?

The argument for a disc wheel is that is smooths out the airflow across the rear wheel, reducing drag. Also, in some wind angles, it can act as a sail and give a little 'push'. There's also the argument that it streamlines your wallet, thus further reducing drag....or, it could increase drag when your spouse finds out how much you spent on a *single* wheel. The drawback is that they can be tough to control in a strong crosswind....and you'll get laughed at if you use one on your next group ride.

For the State Time Trial championship race down in Pattison, TX this year, I rented a HED carbon disc wheel (for fun, and to see what kind of an benefit I might receive).

The rental ran about $100 for the week for a wheel that normally costs around $700 new. The wheel was lighter than my 60mm carbon Real Design wheel and performed well. Besides, a disc makes a cool roaring sound as you pass someone....probably sounds like 'whining' if *you* get passed while using a disc, but that's a different discussion.

I like new toys for my bike, but couldn't justify spending $700+cassette+tires on a wheel that I might use 5 or 6 times per year.

Enter the aero wheel cover ($100 delivered). This is basically two pieces of lens-shaped plastic that attach to a standard rear wheel, covering the spokes and creating a 'disc-effect'.

Mounting the cover takes about 10 minutes, requiring the cassette to be removed and replaced (a good opportunity to deep clean the cogs!), and small plastic bolts to be fastened around the perimeter of the cover.

Weight is a bit of a drawback with this product, as the wheel is significantly heavier than a carbon disc (like HED or Zipp), since you have the weight of the (non-carbon) cover+spokes....but still, not terrible. I've done two races with it so far and didn't feel that I was dragging an anchor up the hills. I've also ridden it in 20+ mph winds without experiencing control issues (I have other control issues, but I don't like to talk about it).

Does it make me any faster? I have no idea (but I'm going to say 'yes' since I've already bought it). Physical and environmental condition changes between 'test runs' would probably be enough to skew any empirical results. However, I believe that the mental aspect of endurance sports is significant. Waiting on the start line with a skinsuit, shaved legs, aero helmet, aerobars and a disc wheel means you've told yourself "I'm riding fast today".......and......."I hope I don't get pulled over by the local sherrif and taken to jail looking like this".

In my last time trial race, I beat the next guy by less than half a second. No, it wasn't for a podium spot, and I'm not going to say that a disc wheel gained me "X" number of seconds in that race, but it was still one place higher, and I did beat my time from the previous year by almost 5 minutes. Some of that was better training, strategy and better bike positioning, but I would also include the aero advantage too.

If you're not prepared to spend $700-$2500 on a lightweight carbon disc, the (around $100) aero cover is a good alternative. Look fast, feel fast, be fast.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wednesday r(ain)ide report

Unfortunately, the roads were wet and a threat of rain caused some to pause, contemplating potential face plants and hydroplaning cars careening across the road. Because of this, we decided to cancel the ride.

I remember having a Wednesday ride start, only to get washed out before we got to 75 during last year's freakishly wet weather. We also left early one ride because of a huge thunderstorm (that Samuel and Kelly and Rob continued to ride since the cumulo nimbus skirted the lake without a drop falling), and another ride, despite constant showers, getting soaked because we could not cancel due to a guest from Maine. Kevin and I got to watch him slide out on a tight turn and fall on his keister. Enough of a warning, right there, to avoid rain! I also got swallowed on the ride home by a water covered pot hole. Remembering these incidents from just Wednesday rides was all the justification I needed.

I'm real intrigued by the Exxon/Mobil loop for our lightless winters. We will talk about the logistics of that soon enough.

Friday, October 10, 2008

GC Leader's Jersey

We talked briefly on the ride in the past about having a leader's jersey. I'd be willing to start this off by purchasing something like: (Tour of PA leader's jersey.) Basically, a leader's jersey from one of our American races and we can award it weekly and include their photo on the blog. Each person who wants to be in the running would need to chip in a small amount to the jersey fund such as $5. This money would be for purchasing the next year's jersey with the hope that we can eventually have a customized SMU Leader's jersey.

Some of my thoughts on it would be:
1. Whomever held it the most number of weeks during our Wednesday night ride season would keep it at the end of the year.
2. Simple points 3, 2, 1 for our designated sprints and climbs would be awarded.
3. Breaking road rules will result in penalties, 3 points each for such things as passing cars, running stop lights etc. (we all want to make it back in one piece).
4. Ties will be voted on at the post-ride meeting at Patterson Hall on campus.
5. While points may be deducted for unsportsman-like conduct -- good sportsman conduct will be rewarded i.e. if you push someone up the hill, changes someone's tire, help an old lady cross the street, etc.

Let me know if there is any interest.

Winter Training at Exon Mobil Loop

For those of you who don't know or have heard about this ride, I highly recommend it. If there is some interest I would be willing to carpool over there, my truck can reasonable accept three bikes just let me know who is interested. The ride starts in a week or two. Here are the details on the ride and a little history:

Exxon Mobil off Season Training Ride - so named because it is on Exxon Mobil headquarters road. (mostly considered a Metro VW team ride but actually no one owns it, is just that those who created the ride many many years ago happen to be on metro vw/fcs now)

1.2 mile loop on a 6 lane street with a garden/creek/jog trail median and 2 crossovers that serve as shortcuts if you drop and need to get back in. There is a u-turn at the top and bottom of the loop, you never hit a main road. We ride in the left hand lane. Road is pretty well lit, some ride with a light, many do not. Rear blinkie lights are a good thing.

6:15 is the time when it goes from warm-up pace to efforts.. Any ride time before 6:15 is done at a warm up pace. People come and go at will. People start leaving at 7:30, maybe usu. 8pm, some stay until 8:30. Come a couple of times and you will understand.

Word will be passed through the pack when/what we are doing that night. Sometimes it is full lap pulls for x amount of time then we go to 1/2 lap pulls. There are 2 shortcuts across the median to get back in when you drop off.

• Mon - small chainring night. Work on getting your spin back. If you need to be in your big to stay on, that is somewhat okay, but you won''t win friends getting on or going off the front in the big ring.
• Wed - big chain ring night,-96.871661&sspn=0.008296,0.011609&ie=UTF8&t=h&ll=32.892831,-96.945634&spn=0.01382,0.019226&z=16&layer=c&cbll=32.890861,-96.947405&panoid=P9C6AbDic8JGMw_Z0B3SGA

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Who is going to host the end of year party?

We're open to suggestions.
Kevin had us over for a pool party that rocked, any takers?

Wednesday ride report: Samuel toys with us, Jeff rides like the young Armstrong

Crepuscule looming, we left 15 minutes early on another beautiful day. Ten riders met at the flagpole, including alum David Pearson (fresh from the Dallas Toyota Triathlon, where former SMU swimmer and Olympian Laura Bennett finished 4th and Mina Pizzini, from Cox, finished first in her division. David finished 20th of 48th in his division. Chapeau to all)

Greg, Michael, Clyde, from the F/S, Kevin and David from the alumni, Caryn representing SMU families and Jeff, Sam, and Noah representing our students, all fall into a brisk pace to the lake. Samuel and Jeff (linked together in today's DC) have never been able to ride together until today. Samuel's coach told him to get some miles in, and Jeff was getting some late season confidence building by planning on thrashing everyone else.

Sam was dissing my helmet, "Did you get that from a Star Wars set?" An LAS Bionix, recently seen (2006) on Liquigas riders Di Luca and Garzelli, it wasn't a big hit in the peloton but I'm all for my unique fashion statements. Caryn thinks I should put an Alien jaw protruding from the front, but if I get any more grief, I breaking out the 1986 Bell Stratos, very RoboCop!

We top TP Hill and do not see Tony, so Jeff moves to the front and takes off. I chase (foolish and instinctual.) We were held up by a car, Caryn bridges up to us and I get to the front at our sprint point just long enough to see Jeff casually pass me and I did what I could to stay within 2-3 meters. Caryn finished 3rd.

As we regroup, we are missing Samuel, so a loop back finds him talking to a couple of Mirage riders, one of them is our own Kelly Devlin. She rode a lot with us last year but one of the Mirage coaches developed a training program for women that Kelly was the recipient of, so she now rides with the evil empires's storm troopers. We miss her on our rides, a very strong rider and we are grateful she did ride with us because she is such integral part of SMU cycling coming to fruition.

The ride up Flagpole exposed my, I thought former, confusion with left and right. Mike says right, I go left. Note to all, when Mike rides, he is the ride captain. He keeps his sanity, does not succumb to testosterone rages and calls out every single bit of road debris and traffic furniture. My problem is that I see a pretty wheel pass me by and I chase it! Ruff ruff!

Speaking of testosterone (or whatever amygdala circuitry occurs in our brain) Samuel decides to taunt Jeff with a feigned attack down the rolling hill and we take the bait, car in the way be damned. We need to have a talk about that! Sam needs no palmares to add to the resume, and Jeff can't resist beating me. Caryn was 3rd.

As they speed past the group, Michael and Caryn sniff the air to sense all of that animal energy unleashed. Michael says, "I'm going to need to get a hormone patch" Caryn, the only woman on the ride, is dismissive of this male notion of "gotta.... be.... in.... front.... despite..... no.... reason... to... be!" She is also the recipient of male angst when she effortlessly passes weekend warriors on Loving.

Jeff and Samuel decide to talk some, missing the turnoff on Ferndale, fortuitous because it allows the group to make the catch. The sensible seven (Caryn, Clyde, David, Greg, Kevin, Michael and Noah) are riding a nice tempo 'till we return to the lake. We all agreed to make the "Erykah" turn near the Bathhouse but Michael makes the executive decision to head straight since we would have had to stop to let the tri-group pass (and riding next to tri newbies always elicits squeaks of fear if you ride closer than a meter to them.) Davis said, "that's my triathlete training partners" Triathletes must be more organized than roadies, we are always looking for a moment to blow the whole thing up.

Kevin's classic move is neutralized as Jeff pulls away from the group with Sam in tow (me too.) He does a real strong attack, we get a gap, Jeff powers on for 2K and then flicks his elbow in that classic "your turn" motion and Samuel just laughs at him. I found it funny as well, because I really liked it back in 3rd position, doing no work whatsoever. Jeff then realizes that Sam is not as gullible as I am. SMU Cycling is all about the learning curve.

Here is what I remember about the young Lance, circa 1987, so strong that he would get in trouble because he worked way too hard at the wrong time. Granted, his efforts usually had me shelled out the back long before I could judge his tactics personally. As I push 50, I have a greater respect for Peter Green, whose picture is on the back wall at RBM, Campbell Road. He was the revelation on the rides we did. Tactically brilliant, and very willing to teach young riders the nuances of cycling learned from a career as a champion of the British Isles. Thirty years older than most of the fodder on the ride, and always finishing at or near the front. If only I had the ability to do the same to our young recruits.

Back to the ride, Sam and I just let Jeff slowly wither on the head of the arrow. Now Samuel's not going to do any work because it is his easy day, and I'm not going to work because I need some matches for Loving (that sounds strange in a eHarmony sort of way.)

Even though I told Caryn we would regroup at the spillway, I didn't have the snaffle-bit in tight enough on the ponies, so we had no slow-down at Winsted. We missed a turn again though, allowing the group to catch. They were all making turn signals pointing left and this tri girl locks her brakes, saying "you didn't call it out!" Don't people know that that is a common point of divergence?"

I attacked it as hard as I could (I had some matches left) and Jeff marks me rather easily, then I stick to his wheel. Unfortunately, it turns out my matches were wet, as I lead him through the second of the three hills, he sees Noah (he is on a two hill schedule) and says, "a rabbit." Little does he know that is what Kevin calls Jeff.

Jeff attacks the 3rd hill, but Noah drops his chain and Jeff passes, then cruises up with me sputtering and bouncing my rear wheel in pursuit. Another 2-3 meter failure for me. He can talk at the top, I have a heart rate that needs to be calmed, and Michael tells us, "first three do it again" No, No and No, unanimous decision. Caryn was 3rd (again.)

Caryn was paced up by this RBM guy who rode the three hills no handed! He said it was training for Italy. I could not do that, especially at that speed. The Mirage/Matrix/RBM guys, despite how cutthroat some rides are, some are really talented cyclists.

Samuel was chillin' at the water fountain, we picked him up and David, Caryn and myself were duly dropped by the group, so all discussions and city limit sign sprints were not recorded (If a sprint was won in the forest, did it make a sound?)

Check out today's paper,

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Daily Campus, Thursday edition Oct 9

Look for another SMU Cycling story, if space permits.

Former MLB Player competing in the Ironman

The best quotes are below:

Conine, 42, admits his brethren are typically aerobically challenged.

“Baseball has probably the worst-conditioned athletes,” the one-time outfielder/first baseman told the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Running around the bases four times and running down four to six baseballs is not physically taxing.”

“Lady, I'm not an athlete,” John Kruk once famously said. “I'm a professional baseball player.”

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

D Magazine story about David Feherty getting hit on his bike h

Chris, thanks for sending this link, a great story
Go to this months D Magazine...
I posted this response to the story on-line

The most important part of the story is that is humanizes a cyclist, because the problem with this culture is that we forget to respect each other. We often see how most motorists re very courteous (almost too nice, who hasn't been motioned on, only to confuse everyone) Cyclists must remember to maintain their own humanity in the face of the serious risks we must endure.
As I cycle on the streets, you observe that some motorists forget that a pedestrian, or a cyclist, or another driver is another individual, not an obstacle. A vehicle too easily isolates the driver from the environment, creating a disconnect between the excessively filtered cabin and the outside.
David's descriptions of this life threatening event would be even more cathartic to us if we could get a response from the driver who caused the accident, the infamy of being a villain in such a life affirming story.

I know it is a small thing, but considering where we started, little things add up.

The news feed of cycling news featured on the USA Cycling web site had the DC story (that John Coleman wrote about us) featured between numerous Lance articles, Levi stories and Zabriskie's bronze at the Worlds. Quite proud to see the words "SMU Cycling" on a page that features these American cycling icons, even if is a link to our own Daily Campus. Since it was placed a few days ago, you have to scroll down the list of recently featured articles, but a few days ago we were on top!

Monday, October 6, 2008

US Open Triathlon Dallas - Race Report

Sunday 10/5 was the 2nd annual US Open Triathlon Championship. Its fun to do a race of this type for the opportunity to see firsthand the performance of nationally ranked professional atheletes. Even had a racer from the US Olympic Triathlon team.

The day started early with a 4:00am alarm to load up and head down to the American Airlines Center. This race is logistically challenging due to the fact that the bike portion is a point-to-point course, starting at Joe Pool lake in Cedar Hill and finishing at the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas. Saturday was spent in mandatory race-briefings, packet pickup and bike checkin down in Cedar Hill.

I arrived at American Airlines Center a little before 5:00am and set up my running gear in the 2nd transition area (T2), then caught a shuttle bus down to Joe Pool lake at Cedar Hill state park. Once there, I had plenty of time to set up my first transition area (T1) with my gear for the swim and bike portion. Things are a little different with this race, in that you have to pack all of your gear before heading out to the bike course, since the race organizers pick up all the gear bags and transport them downtown to be picked up at the finish.

We watched the pro and elite racers start about 7:30am, with several of them turning in swim times of 18 to 20 minutes for 1500 meters! I hit the swim at about 8:15 (with wetsuit, since the race was wetsuit legal at 76 degrees water temp). The swim start for age-group atheletes was a time-trial start with 4 racers starting every 10 seconds...didn't end up with the 'washing machine' of arms and legs that usually results from 50+ people starting at the same time. Fortunately, the water was calm sunday morning (it was pretty choppy on saturday afternoon) which made for a smooth swim. The only trouble was sun in our eyes coming back in which made it almost impossible to see the course I just followed the splashing in front of me and hoped for the best.

I exited the 1500 meter swim at 31:51 (I'm not a fast swimmer), and headed into transition to get on the bike. T1 took more time than I'm used to, making sure everything was packed up and ready to go. Several of us got held up exiting transition as a race volunteer motioned a delivery truck to back up across the bike course, blocking us for a minute or so.

The bike course started with a couple miles ride through the state park on some hilly, winding roads. A couple riders went down hard on one of the curves and were still lying on the pavement as I went by. (volunteers were on the scene and help was on the way, but it looked like a bad crash)....not a good sign to have a crash this early. We exited the state park on 1382 for a slow uphill against the wind. We then made our way toward downtown through a fairly hilly course. On the plus side, the entire course was coned off from traffic with great traffic control by police and volunteers. The negative of this course was poor road condition (potholes, ruts, cracks), especially as we got closer to downtown.

I tried to keep the effort on the bike in check, but pushed it as hard as the road conditions allowed (had to really keep alert on the downhill sections for potholes....they come up pretty quick at 30+ mph!). The course took us through some fairly rundown areas of town, with a nice sweeping turn at the Lew Sterrett Jail. The most memorable moment was coming across the Commerce street bridge with the downtown skyline ahead....not many opportunities to get that view on a bike!

The wind picked up toward the end of the bike course, pushing me around a little with my disc wheel...overall, not too bad, though.

Finished the 40K bike in 1:15:25 and headed out onto the Katy trail for the 10K run. Thankfully, this was a flat run course because I was fading pretty bad by about mile 4. I pushed it through and finished the run in 51:18 for a total race time of 2:44:26. 19th place out of 47 in the mens 40-44 agegroup.

In comparison, Greg Bennett (the pro winner of the race) finished in 1:46:52 for a $120,000 prize. Now all I have to do is 'shave' off an hour from my race time......

Finishing at the American Airlines center is a great venue...lots of energy, food, music...basically a big party at the completion of your race. The organizers do a great job with challenging logistics, would just be nice to find a better bike course into downtown.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Unbridled Ponies: Some musings on the group ride. The Wednesday ride report

Yesterday was a glorious day to ride, one of those brief interludes of perfect weather in Texas, after a hot summer. Jeff, Kevin, Nicky, Clyde, Michael, Noah, Jeff from Team MBA, Greg, and one of Chase Ingraham's friends, Josh (?) Caryn, myself and a recent Law grad and friend of Finney, Chris.

There was a time, before my accumulation of bikes (5), bike parts (built 5 bikes!),and apparel, (a peloton full of choices) that I could barely keep one bike on the road and a flat became a financial crisis if the tube was beyond repair or worse, the tire was finished.

My LeMond era ADR team replica jersey soon showed the ravages of the sun (and the heat of the dryer) I had a pair of blingy white and grey Lotto cycling shoes, but dismal socks. Usually one pair of cycling shorts that soon (due to the 1 oz weight Lycra from low quality mail order shorts) had that tell tale sign of poor quality, the gluteal cleft (ass crack) peering out to the wheel suckers.

A cyclist shouldn't be judged by their bike or their apparel, but by enthusiasm, willingness to suffer, and acknowledging what they need to do to improve, plus an esprit de corps with fellow cyclists. Even then a few comments are not unwelcome, like the time my early build y-foil was referred to as, "Like a Ferrari with bald tires" (which, by the way is finally finished after 8 years, it has a new Chris King headset)

That said, yesterday was very disappointing. We had a really large group that was frisky and some anticipated putting the hurt on, while other looked at surviving. The group dynamic has developed where we have a ride that can provide an enjoyable experience for most of us. We were forced to unbridle the frisky ponies so that the rest could mentor a new initiate to the club. While we did not completely succumb to the Matrix/Mirage model (leave exactly on time, wait for no one, especially people you do not know, drop anyone who falls just a bit off, sneer at last years equipment, drop the rest of the strangers, determine that if you are not on a team-you suck, complain about someone's missed shift etc.) we were not prepared (as a group) to welcome a new rider with the grace we have asked these people to join us with.

Michael Vangeli sent me a very eloquent response regarding yesterday's ride. We have had a dialogue about the goals and expectations we have regarding our group. Lee, Clyde, Greg and Rob have also communicated their opinions regarding the group ride.

A few points to consider.

We feel very strongly that since we are riding for fun (no jerseys to be awarded) that stop signs are acknowledged, stop lights to be obeyed, and general courtesy given to cars since we expect the same from them. We are not riding on a closed course and given Dallas' reputation as hazardous to bikes, we want to be as safe as possible. SMU would expect us to be safe citizens, so always wear a helmet and obey traffic rules.

That we determine that someone stays with slower riders and mentors them. Doesn't have to be the whole group, we just won't abandon anyone. Some people will never be expected to do it since they will have their own defined training agenda.

We will try to coordinate with the other SMU group, so that we have a sense of what is best for the new rider. We will try to get the two different rides to have at least some sense of common purpose and determine which ride is most suitable for new riders.

And lastly, the rides are meant to be fun, challenging, provide a sense of community at SMU and to assist in developing a competitive collegiate cycling club that competes at USAC events.

So Sam, Travis, Jeff, Nicky et al, you can continue to kick our gluteal clefts out on the roads!

For now...