16 November 2005

Stolen Bike: Reward


50cm black, lugged steel road bike with white panels. Panels read "ZANCONATO."

Skull and crossbones on one side of top tube, mathematical formula on the other.

Mix of Campy brakes and drivetrain. AlphaQ carbon fork, Truvativ cranks. Front Nimble Spider weel. Back Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheel. Thompson seatpost. Fizik Aireone saddle.

Stolen Sunday, 11/13 at 4 p.m. out of a moving van on 15th St. b/t 5th and 6th Aves. Thanks in advance for any help. Reward.

ysceditor at yahoo dot com

20 July 2005

Tour de Great Lakes - July 13-23

Tour de Great Lakes Trip Report
From July 13 to 23rd I rode from New York City to Milwaukee, Wisconsin via a route that went initially straight northward into Ontario, Canada and then westward over the top of Lake Huron before re-entering the US at Sault Ste. Marie to proceed west through the upper peninsula of Michigan and finishing by proceeding south along the western shores of Lake Michigan to end in Milwaukee. The total distance was 1,255 miles which I rode over an 11 day period.

Why this ride?
I wanted to see if I could do a longer solo trip. Also I liked the idea of demonstrating to myself that the bike was a viable form of transportation for long distance travel, the Queen Mary of land travel, both more costly and slower but still offering an intrinsically rewarding and different experience. Also I liked the unstructured nature of the ride and going very light with minimal gear. My bike was hardly slowed down versus doing say a club ride. Also I like the idea of just riding away from NYC without knowing exactly where I would be going or staying overnight. I felt a need to confront directly and in a small way the fear of the unknown. Additionally I wanted to prove the possibility of riding and doing overnight loops. If overnight rides become candidates, NYCC club rides could cover much greater territory. So, for example, one could take the train to Poughkeepsie, ride 100 miles, say into the Adirondacks, or 1/3 of the way into Vermont, and then return by a different route back to the end of the Harlem line. That's alot of range and you would not need a sag car. A car would add an extra measure of insurance against breakdown of course.

The first 4 days were been really hot, the next 2 quite rainy, followed by 2 cooler but windy days and finally the last 3 were warm with variable wind. I just barely missed getting caught by a severe thunderstorm on the last day by about 15 minutes. It was a severe enough storm that the tornado sirens were turned on!

My Feeling
I generally felt strong but was worried about my knees holding up on day 3 and 4. They had become a little tender by the end of each of those days. I decided to take more breaks to give them a rest which seemed to solve the problem. After the half way point, I felt like I was getting into a groove as it became easier to put the mileage in. Thus on the second to last day with the help of a mild tailwind I packed on the mileage and did 151. Also that helped to space things out so that the very last day was not so long. On a long tour, after 5 days of breakin, I think I could have averaged a bit more, maybe around 125 or 130. If there had been more tailwinds instead of headwinds that would add another 10 to 20 on what could be done. I focused on different parts of riding. Often I thought about keeping my shoulders down (I have this bad habit of scrunching them up) and keeping my elbows in. Also I tried to focus on not pushing the pedals, spinning them instead but not in too low a gear. I basically tried to time trial all the time, although at a lower energy level, one maintainable all day long. In still air, I tended to be in either a 39x15 or a 53x21 one up or down. I averaged about 18 to 19 in still air but I would estimate that I was riding into the wind about 60% of the time, during which my speed and gearing would both be lower. I also tried to pedal in circles by pulling up and back as well as pushing down. During the first week, by the end of a day, my feet really began to hurt alot. All said, my feet getting sore was the biggest limitation on my riding speed. The heat aggravated that I am sure.

The riding was often quite remote with the towns few and far betweeen and very small. I was concerned about the possibility of bike breakdown as I had a stretch at one point of perhaps 300 miles, I estimate, between towns having bike shops.

I went into many taverns for food as I found them to be better and more interesting stops than the countless convenience stores. Invariably I would get asked either where I was going or where I had come from. People were very surprised when I said New York City.

I went as light as possible and wanted to avoid panniers. So all I used were a handlebar bag and a mid-size seat bag. One pair of bike shorts meant I washed them every night. I'd recommend two jerseys since keeping these fresh smelling is pretty important for obvious reasons. For 'normal' clothing I had shorts and a tee shirt, that was all. I also carried bike tights and a yellow rain jacket. Next time around, for a summer time ride, I would skip the bike tights. I never used them. Most evenings I hand washed the riding clothes. Twice I managed to machine wash them which did a much better job. Amazingly, I had no flats at all. I did start the ride with brand new tires which I am sure helped. Generally the rural roads are much cleaner than those of the city. I did break a rear spoke on day two which fortunately I had brought extras and so I replaced it immediately.

Riding Tips
I started to carry in a jersey pocket an extra small water bottle that fits under the bathroom sink faucet so I might use it to fill up my larger bottles when they would not fit. I made sure the smaller one had a top which was easy to drink from so that I effectively had 2 1/3 big bottles of carrying capacity. The weather was so hot I got tired of buying water all the time at $2 or sometimes $3. A few times I did run out forcing me to ride dehydrated until the next source.

I watched Lance and the Tour in many of the motel rooms as about half of them have OLN. Prices varied but were particularly inexpensive in rural Ontario and the upper peninsula of Michigan. I had one place right on Lake Michigan, Garden Corners, which cost only $35 a night. The problem of making reservations is a bit of a challenge when biking because you really don't want to commit to a certain location much in advance. What I found to work best is at about 3:00 to 4:30 or so stopping in a town and then calling ahead for a reservation so you have confidence before taking the next step that there is a motel with a vacancy. The second night, Watertown, I made the mistake of arriving at the location at 6:30 only to find there was no place to stay. To be in a position of having to ride looking for a vacancy is not good especially after 100 miles and with dusk approaching. The tourist information booths, usually located when you enter a state or province, were very helpful at providing information on small motels by town.

Border Crossings
As they are wont to do, the crossing guards try to ask questions which will reveal some inconsistency in your story or if you really have the knowledge that would come with doing a bike trip. Upon re-entry into the US, he asked me my average speed, how many days I had been in Canada, and what my average mileage per day was. I did bring a passport which may now be required although I am not sure of that.

Day Mileage Overnight Location
1 ... 80 ... Cooperstown, NY
2 ... 131 ... Watertown, NY
3 ... 102 ... Westport, Ont
4 ... 130 ... Whitney, Ont
5 ... 101 ... Parry Sound, Ont
6 ... 115 ... Sudbury, Ont
7 ... 110 ... Blind River, Ont
8 ... 120 ... Kinross, MI
9 ... 110 ... Garden Corners, MI
10... 151 ... Green Bay, WI
11... 105 ... Waukesha, WI
Total 1,255

Accompanying Riders
John Zenkus was kind enough to ride with me the first day from Phoenicia, NY to Cooperstown. Chris Teager drove a sag car and at the end of the day transported John back to NYC. On the very last day, my friend Keith Lauritsen, who lives in Green Bay, gave me shelter and then rode with me (and 2 other friends as well) from Neenah, WI down the west side of Lake Winnebago to Fond du Lac, a distance of about 35 miles. That was much appreciated also.

I saw only 5 other bike tourers, far fewer than I expected. Some of the motels were quite used to seeing bikers, but others were not. It seems the route around Lake Michigan gets a fair amount of traffic. The motel operators of the first three nights were not so familiar with bikers.

Highlights just in a list
Thousand Island Border Crosssing - very picturesque islands many with cabins
Algonquin Park - I'd go back there canoing some day
Huntsville, Ont - nice surprisingly touristy town.
Rosseau, Ont - also a little gem surrounded by lakes
Blind River, Ont - scenic and directly on Huron's Georgia Bay
Sault Ste. Marie - a nice touristy place as well
Upper Peninsula, MI - quite desolate so the cycling was almost traffic-free. Lots of forests.

Biggest disappointment - Sudbury, Ont. - a heavy industrial lead smelter town.
I actually did not see that much of Lake Huron.

All of these places must be so cold in winter!

All in all a great trip with special emphasis on the conditioning aspects of it.

02 July 2005

Eric's "Ride The Rockies" Report 6/17-18

Fri. June 17th & Sat. June 18th. New York/Denver/Grand Junction Co.

Whopee! I’ve arrived in Denver at 11:30am on Fri. and take the shuttle straight to my hotel in Downtown. ..The Magnolia. It’s right around the corner from happenin’ 16th Mall. A street with tons of shops restaurants…and bars. Love the hotel. I splurged, but I was only in Denver one night, so why not. The plan was to meet a couple people who were very helpful to my trip. I met Nicole Zaremba in New York where she and I attended her sister Tina’s one woman show. Tina is a client at Atlas Talent Agency where I work (http://www.atlastalent.com/). Tina introduced us and told me Nicole lived in Denver. I replied excitedly that I would be in Colorado in a couple of months as I had fortunately been one of the 2,000 cyclists picked randomly to do “Ride The Rockies” this year. I registered for “Ride the Rockies” because frankly, Europe was gonna be too expensive and I had never been to Colorado in my life and I heard the climbs and the scenery were first rate. So here I was blabbering to Nicole about attending the 20th edition of the tour. She and her boyfriend were happy to hear this and then she told me she had a friend and work colleague named Terri Porter who had gone last year with her father who was a big time cyclist and multiple “Ride The Rockies” veteran. She suggested I get in touch with Terri to help me better prepare for this trip. Nicole was also instrumental in steering me toward Frontier Airlines which had by far the cheapest airfare.

At the time, I assumed I was going to camp on the trip, and had already made plans to borrow some camping gear from my racing buddy Matt Purdue who was an avid camper. Then fate stepped in. I spoke to Terri the following week and she told me that even though her father had made plans to go this year he had to cancel. He had even booked motel rooms in each town. “Are those rooms still available?” I asked. “Yeah sure, you want them? We were just gonna give the reservation back”/ “No no no, I’ll take em”, I said. Who was I kidding. I was born on 19th and 1st avenue. What do I know from camping? I have camped a total of two days in the last 10 years and I wasn’t the one who put up the tents. This was a message from God/MotherNature/Allah. Fate had intervened. I was gonna have a bed, a shower and even a roof over my head each and every night!

We had made a tentative plan to meet up somehere in Denver this Friday Night. Soon after I arrive at the hotel, Nicole called me and gave me the address to a restaurant called Racine’s where I finally got to meet Terri and her Fiance (See picture – Sorry it’s bad, blame it on the waitress who took it) and fellow avid cyclist. I had an appetizer and a drink and talked about the trip, but they had to cut out for a pre-father’s day family get-together. Nicole drove me back to the hotel, but I wasn’t ready to turn in yet. I wasn’t riding tomorrow, all I had to do was catch the Coach USA charter that “Ride the Rockies” set up for a 4 hour trip across the state to Grand Junction, Colorado.

I decided to walk around the mall and noticed what looked like a party right on the street. The name of the bar escapes me, but every Friday in the Summer, there’s a huge party. How could I resist. I got myself a beer and took in the fun atmosphere. It wasn’t long before I heard a girl talking about biking. Well if that wasn’t the perfect time to enter stage left and I introduced myself and told her that I was here in Colorado visiting and that I was doing a week long bike trip. Well I guess I said the right thing because they allowed me to hang with them the rest of the evening. They were Cindy (Nickname is Cici), Amy & Nicole (See above) I had a great time and am grateful that they made me feel at home in their presence. I’m looking forward to seeing two of them in New York in November as they are doing the NYC Marathon and I am under strict orders from Cici to find them a nice restaurant on the Upper West side to hang their hat after the run. I promised I would and most certainly will. After hanging with these party animals, I was done. Gotta get ready to bus it to Grand Junction in the am. Hit the hotel and passed out in minutes flat.

Sat. 6/18

Woke up, got out a bed, dragged the comb across my head. To quote Mr. McCartney and caught a cab to the bus and loaded up to Grand Junction. This was the first time I had ever seen mountains of this magnitude. I had never seen river rapids like the one’s I saw as we headed West. This was cool. I put on my MP3 player and took in the wonderful scenery. I arrived around 1:30 to the Carnival atmosphere of “Ride The Rockies” and signed in. Got my free jersey and watter bottle (which is really cool), found my bicycle which I had sent ahead and found my motel and was very happy with the room. I was spending two nights here and it had a pool! Yes! I popped over to the downtown area and grabbed a bite and made it an early night. Tomorrow was day one of my long awaited ride 405 mile ride across Colorado.

Check out the route on the main link at: http://www.ridetherockies.com/

For the elevation profiles to each day as well as reports from the Denver Post of this years ride click this link below:

Eric's "Ride The Rockie's" report Sun. 6/19

Sunday 6/19 Colorado National Monument – Grand Junction, CO. - 45 Miles

First day on the bike at last! I was excited and nervous and asked myself more than once did I ride enough this year? My odomotor that I bought in February said 2,010 Miles and I had done six races. Surely I’m ready for this right? I’d sent my bike off on June 8th and thanks to a business acquaintance, I got a pass to the fancy Equinox gym in my neighborhood. They had great stationary bikes that were compatible with my look pedals. I could clip in and off I went. Just to be ready I took 8 spinning classes in nine days. They encourage wearing the heart rate monitors to check your recovery. My recovery times from the higher plateaus of my HR max and say.. 120 bpm was improving steadily everyday.

Today’s ride was a fairly steep climb to the top of Colorado National Monument on a crisp, clear but hot day. Shortly into the ride I chatted with a guy named Tom from Colorado Springs, but was soon moving back to his native, Ontario Canada and was doing his 3rd “Ride The Rockies”. I asked him how many miles he did to prepare and breathing heavily, he sputterd out “uh..only about 500 or so”.. He saw me reach for my little Canon Digital Camera and said to me.. “You don’t want to just take pictures of the sights do you? My father was a photographer and I’ll take some pics with you in them.”

Cool!. As you can see, he did a pretty good job of catching these action shots. (Above) There’s one picture of me doing a bad impersonation of The Satue of Liberty on my New York Cycle Club jersey. If you look closely at the jersey it’s Ms. Liberty wearing her nice red helmet (For safety and yet very stylish) The Jersey got a lot of rave reviews Thanks Tom from Canada for the great shots. I’m forever grateful.

Because he wasn’t quite as in shape, he’d let me pull off the front and then I’d meet up with him again at the aid station. He, like me was motel-ing it, because his wife and daughter had joined him on the trip as a sort of final farewell to Colorado which had been their home for the last 10 years.

Over this week I did an un-scientific pole and can say with pretty good accuracy that atleast 50-60% of the participants in this year’s “Ride The Rockies” were from or resided in Colorado. When riders (looking at my jersey) asked if I was from New York, I said yes. Where in New York was always the follow up.. “The City”, I replied. The reactions from my answer were always of shock. S ome in delight and many with this sour look and inevitably they’d ask, “Well, where do you climb?” I’d then explain that the best climbs locally were in New Jersey and then north out of Jersey to New York again heading upstate to places such as Nyack, Bear Mountain, Harriman State Park and then finally I’d mention.. “you know Central Park is a 6.1 mile Power course with a ¼ mile hill and a 12% + grade. I race there on weekends” Upon hearing this, a group of six guys thought that it must be cool to actually race in Central Park. I told them it was.

I rode with this pack to the top and it was at the downhill that Tom caught up with me. His bike looked like he was carrying a suitcase under his saddle. No wonder he was hyperventilating out there. The downhill was sensational. Beautiful switchbacks with the most stunning views of the canyon. There’s a bike racing film called “American Flyers” starring Kevin Coster, I think from 1982. With many movies of this era, there is something cheesy about it, except for the bike race footage which was shot from races at that time and the footage of Costner on the bike was shot on this very same road. Put it on your Netflix list and get the popcorn.

Once on the flats, the six guys tore off like a bat out of hell and in a split decision, I decided I felt good enough to go and got on their wheel. In about 10 minutes there were just 3 of us and we kept a revolving pace line going for another ten minutes until bike and car traffic back into Grand Junction got out of hand. We all gave each other high-fives to a well done finish to the first day’s ride. Now it was back to the motel and a dip in the pool (Thank you Ramada inn) and then the “Beer Garden” in the center of downtown Grand Junction where “New Belgium Brewery” were this years new proud sponsors. Most years, Coors was the sponsor. They served up a hearty brew called “The Fat Tire”. How appropriate.

A great thing about “Ride The Rockies” was how damn efficient they were. There were always charter buses (at least six of them to take riders to the local High School (where the start/finish was and where the hardy campers would set up camp for the night) or there would be a bus that woud pick up or drop off the motel people to and fro from HS to Beer Garden and back. And there was ALWAYS a beer garden to go to in each town. Beer and biking just go together I guess. I call it my reward.

I was hungry after the beer garden and nothing in the immediate vicinity excited me so I ventured off the beaten path and found a laid back burger joint with a bar and had a terrific burger and met a couple of the most outgoing gals on the ride …Kris & Patricia (see above) They told me they were on “TEAM DFL” short for “Dead Fucking Last” and proceeded to prep me for a water soluable “DFL” tattoo. I was now initiated in a new bike club. Thanks gals. We caught the last buses at 10:00pm happy and full.

Eric's "Ride The Rockie's" report. Mon. 6/20

Grand Junction to Delta – 92 Miles

Today, the second day of riding was going to be the longest hardest ride of the whole trip. This was GRAND MESA. I made sure to stretch an extra 10 minutes and to have the 30 SPF on-hand. I didn’t sweat it too much because I knew I was in a lot better shape than the alarmingly high rate of older fatter riders on this trip. (There were a lot) On top of that there were seven aid stations along the route to hang at. The ride started at 4,500 ft. elev. Between mile 38 and mile 57 it would climb to 10,839 feet. Yep. Almost 20 miles uphill! There were going to be 4 aid stations in that 20 mile period so how could you fail? Well fail many did. The tally of riders that took the bus up from various points on the climbs rather than make it on their own steam was roughly 500 of the 2,000 registered cyclists. Doh!!!

This day started relatively flat and then we all found ourselves on this one continual incline of a manageable 4 or 5% for about 5 miles. Just as I began to wonder where I might take a nature break, the aid station at the foot of the Grand Mesa appeared.There was now 15 miles of super serious climbing to be done. The next five miles was steeper than the last, but the temperature seemed pretty hot, but the time and miles went by and I settled in. The more I rode the more comfortable I was with the heat. (strange huh) Part of it was probably there was no humidity here.

When I’m feeling good on the bike something special happens. I’ve told my racer buddies this before…. music starts flowing in my ears and it calms me and puts me in to a nice steady rhythm. Today the song du Jour was Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them” from “Dark Side of the Moon”. I don’t understand it, but Pink Floyd has a lot of songs that are good to bike to. I think sub-consciously, the line in the song “Up and down and in the end it’s only round and round and round” was heavily on my mind for obvious reasons. The slow relaxing rhythm, yet powerful intermittent bombasts of saxophone and shrieking choral voices seemed to complement this mountain nicely. From there it’s just a short time before I feel this meditative peace. No wonder I saw riders wearing "Dark Side of the Mooon" and "Wish You Were Here" jerseys.

The first time this ever happened was on my New York Cycle Club: http://www.nycc.org/
“graduation’ ride in May 2004. A round trip from Central Park to Bear Mountain. 120 Miles. I was intimidated, cause I had never climbed Bear Mountain. How intimidating the name alone is. Well it wasn’t too bad. I paced myself and found myself getting stronger as the climb progressed. Then it happened. A song I really love.. the Cocteau Twins “Lazy Calm” just eased into to my cortex as I looked over at the stunning view to my left of the valley below. Wow! At that moment in time I was relaxed and at peace just listening to my breathing and the tune in my head and felt for once what it was like to be a satisfied man and content with just being.. No past no future. Just now. I ended of being the 5th rider up the climb, with my future racing team mate Joe Decuiitis reaching the summit first.

I was hoping to get more of this natural drug on this trip and I got it. Pink Floyd was taking me there. I stopped at the aid station with 10 Miles to go for more water and I was back on in no time. I was now passing people like I stole something and was rewarded with a sudden whoosh of cool air and thick patches of snow along both sides of the road. I was getting close, but I was in no rush. At one point I looked up and saw cyclists up above me on another plateau of the same road that I was on and they were continuing up in the opposite direction. I know this was a sight that probably freaked some riders out, but my immediate reaction was cool. I’ll be there soon. I stopped for a minute and took a couple of pictures off the road where other riders were taking pictures near the top ( see above). I didn’t stay long as I was looking forward to closing this deal.

Myself and another guy in a Discovery Channel Jersey were taking a leisurely spin upward when we both heard the DJ’s sound system up the road and we simultaneously got off our saddles and wanted to sprint to the finish which was flattening out nicely. As we reached the top there was a party going on big time and everyone on a bike who got to the finish was treated to rousing applause from the other cyclists, support staff and locals. Very cool! I enjoyed a big juicy bratwurst sandwich with chips and accepted one of the most delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies I had ever eaten. I posed for a picture in my CRCA (Century Road Club Assoc.) jersey at the elevation sign and was ready and eager to fly down the mountain.

It only took about 10 seconds from setting off down Grand Mesa when expletives began leaving my mouth. This was gonna be something else. 26 + miles of unadulterated speed. It was gonna be at least a half-hour hunched in an aero position. I have to say the first five minutes were very intimidating. It doesn’t really matter if you crash at 45mph or 30mph, it’s gonna be a world of hurt. I eased into it and let the experienced speed demons pass on the left. I got comfy and then fully let it loose and got it to 43mph before I started getting twitchy. As I was entering the valley below I was hit with a blast of heat that felt like a con-air hair dryer was turned on right in my face!. Guess I’m out of the mountains. At the next aid station I stopped and was dying from the heat. There was a nice lady who had a water hose and was filling up the igloo jugs and I asked her to hose me down and she obliged. Other’s followed suit. From here it was just 15 Miles to the finish. It was a long one. Mostly flat with hot winds blowing in our direction and one of the dullest straightest road I’ve ever been on. Finally a left turn on a shaded street and the carnival of sponsorship tents and campers and charter buses appeared Ahh… Job well done! Hello Delta, Colorado. Hit my motel just a couple of blocks away (thank God!) and was in the mood for Mexican. I asked the jolly motel manager and he showed me the way. Just a five minute walk, Yes!. Got the biggest burrito and as a special reward..one cold Dos Equis Beer. I meandered back to my motel which was a whole bunch of Miniature log cabins. It was definitely the most miniature room of the trip. But it had AC, a bed, a shower and TV. I think those (and possibly water) are the most important things to man. I may be exaggerating a little. Tomorrow is just a 34 miler so, I think I shall sleep an extra half-hour tonight. Good night.

01 July 2005

Eric's "Ride The Rockies" report Tue. 6/21

Tue. 6/21 Delta to Montrose – 34 Miles.

After yesterday’s monster 92 miles with 20 miles uphill and 25 miles straight down, it was a smart move to throw in an easy and relatively flat romp through the farms between the towns of Delta and Montrose. I awoke very well rested and the legs felt great. I had a leisurely breakfast at the comfort in across the street and set off for a nice easy ride. I enjoyed biking past the farms, but I have to say this jaded New Yorker was a bit bored by mile 15. There was an aid station there where I refilled my bottles and chilled under a shaded table near the DJ. This DJ gives away “Ride The Rockies” t-shirts with little contests like, “The first person with an ornament on their helmet gets a free t-shirt!” or “The first person who can show me an expired Colorado license get’s a free t-shirt”. So I’m sitting there and the next contest is this. “The first person who can show me a valid driver’s license from East of the Mississippi get’s a free t-Shirt!”. Well I was up off the chair and my wallet out and in this guy’s face in about 4 seconds. Two seconds ahead of somebody else. I showed my NY state license and was declared the winner! Funny thing about these T-shirts. They actually show the route of the tour on the back (That’s cool), but the dates say June 10-june 25th. (That’s wrong) Oh well, it’s a free t-shirt.

Got on the bike and was finished by 11:30 and hit my motel by 12:00. I showered took a nap, went to the “Red Barn” restaurant and had a surprisingly tough steak with spaghetti and set off on to the center of Montrose. The main street was really quite nice and was bustling with crowds of cyclists and locals. I counted at one point four different bands and two solo musicians performing on various corners within a 5 block radius. 2 rock bands, 2 bluegrass bands and 2 folk singers. Wow!! Surprisingly, I hadn’t seen a cowboy hat until today (see above) cool huh!. It was too late to catch the latest Star Wars film up the block and so I headed back and crashed.

Eric's "Ride The Rockie's" report - Wed. 6/22

Wed. 6/22 – Montrose to Gunnison – 65 Miles

I thinks the best cycling days (for me anyway) are filled with both hardship and glory. Today was one of those days. It was recommended to the riders by the ride organizers to sleep in a bit as the kick off point at Hhy 50 is infamous for heavy early morning easterly gusts of wind. Well I was off at 9:15 as those winds were still bad. I got in a pace line about 50 cyclists long to protect myself from the wind. The route for the next 14 miles would takes us from approx. 5,800 ft. elev. to nearly 8,000 ft. elev. which made the pace of this pace line more like a conga line. At the first aid station I met 3 riders who I would spend most of today with as well as Friday – Doug Lowe, his 20 yr. Old son – Dustin and Doug’s buddy Ken. All from Salt Lake City. This was Doug’s 4th “Ride The Rockies”. Doug’s wife Debbie was a real trooper and acted as the “Directeur Sportif” of “TEAM LOWE”. Once the 3 guys would bike off, Debbbie, assisted by Dustin’s girlfriend would pack off the car and camper and set up camp at the next destination. It was very cute to watch Doug text his wife of their current location and she text him as to how good a spot she found for the night.These guys were a hoot and we took turns singing out loud. I started sing “Octopusses Garden” and the song bounced happily in my head for the next 45 minutes. Once over the Cerro summit the winds were gone and we could enjoy a nice down hill (Not!!!).

Shortly after heading downhill we ran into a major snafu. The road we were on was getting completely repaved. With the heat, the tar was wet with huge mounds of gravel mixed in and we were in a steep decline so the bike wanted to go! go! go!. You could tell who the experienced mountain bikers were because they were masterful on their road bikes avoiding breaking too hard and going at good speed. I on the other hand was white knuckling it all the way for 3 f%#@!! Miles. I felt my back wheel fish tail at least twice. I looked down and my Michelin tires, which were yellow with black stripes were now all black with tar and with a nice gravel topping. My wheels had turned into granola clusters! Shit!!!! With my forearms beginning to tire from all the breaking we finally reached aid station 2. There must have been at least 500 cyclist at this aid station which was adjacent to a gas station with dozens more coming in every couple of minutes. Everyone with the same problem….how do we get this crap off our tires? Some had it worse…flats and terrible dings from flying rocks that did damage to paint schemes on $5,000 dollar Serotta’s, Trek’s and Orbea’s. Riders took out their tire hinges to scrape the wheels to no avail. At the aid stations there are always bananas and sliced oranges to eat and someone tried the orange peels as a salve and it worked pretty well. An even better solution was gasoline! Another rider (without asking the station owner) squeezed out some gasoline and poured it on a rag and the crap just came right off. I got me some of that and before I knew it, my wheels returned to their wonderful yellow and black striped luster. The owner saw what was happeing and the old guy look like he was about to have a stroke. Fortunately one of the organizers was right there to let him know that he would be compensated for his trouble.

At last I, and my new found friends were off again heading to the summit of Blue Mesa. We got into a nice pace as the climbs began and I was feeling really good and was more than happy to pull our group at any opportunity. In fact I was pulling so hard at one point that I had lost my buddies. Oooops. Man I felt good. I was gonna keep going and hard too! I was just flying past slower riders until my pace matched those of 5 or 6 other riders and we were just pounding the peddles. About ten minutes later a very fit couple had had it and dropped from the pace. I was beginning to feel like Ivan Basso or Floyd Landis or Lance…just keeping a blistering pace and watching others snap around me like overstretched rubber bands. I forgot to mention that I was wearing my heart rate monitor and it was telling me great things. My heart rate stayed between 130 and 145 and whenever the road flattened out I was below 120. As one cyclist told me, if you are below 120 on a ride you’re heart doesn’t even know it’s having a workout! The road got steeper and twistier as we headed for the summit at the beautiful Blue Mesa resevoir. I was still in my middle ring and more gears to spare. It was now me and one other rider who was at my pace. I had to do it….the famous “LOOK” that Lance Armstrong gave to Jan Ullrich on the climb of L’Alpe d’Huez at the 2001 Tour de France… http://www.usatoday.com/sports/cycling/2003-07-11-the-look_x.htm

I pulled in front of the guy without showing any hint of bother, I got off the saddle and looked back and stared hard enough for him to notice and then dropped him like a bad habit. I was such an ass!, but I couldn’t help it. After surviving the “Tar Pits” the cycling gods had shined on me. I continued to float up and around a nasty 180 degree switchback with atleast a 9-10% gradient which led to another ½ mile of gradient of 6-7% before the aid station at the Blue Mesa Summit. (Picture above). I had a satisfying lunch and found my buddies who got there and enjoyed a terrific ride downhill leading to Gunnison. Got to my Motel in Gunnison (The Super 8) It was surprisingly nice and the bathroom was bigger than a lot of NY studio apartments. Best of all the Community dinner was right across the street from the motel. I met up with Doug, Ken & Dustin et al. and had delicious BBQ ribs and a couple Brewskies from the tour sponsor “New Belgium Beer” Their “Fat Tire” brew is quite tasty. I called it a night relatively early around 9:15. I don’t know if it was the beer, but I all of a sudden felt very tired and was getting a sore throat. uh oh…see next day’s report…

30 June 2005

Eric's "Ride The Rockies" report. Thur. 6/23

Thur. 6/23 Gunnison to Salida – 66 Miles

Weeks before my trip I had been warned that the first couple of days in Colorado I might have some acclimation issues. I certainly took their word for it and was drinking lots of water the week before I left. Always having a bottle with me. On the plane I had 2 bottles of water and kept asking for more from the flight attendants. I was determined to beat this thing. Friday, I was fine. Saturday up and down the national monument, no prob. Monday 92 miles a cinch. Etc. Yesterday (Montrose to Gunnison) I had felt my strongest and could barely keep from skipping as I headed to the community dinner right across the street from my motel. Then I guess I did something bad… I had a couple of beers and had the audacity to do it at 7,800 feet altitude. Mother Nature clearly took offense at my hubris and smite me down last night and today I was gonna pay! I woke this morning and my stomach felt like there was a boulder stuck in it and had to force myself to eat as I woke at a relatively late 8:00am. One piece of good news, the ride out to Salida ran past my motel. As it happened I saw my buddies go by and I could barely wave to them as they yelled to me to get on the bike. I told them I had to eat breakfast and off they went. I forced down a bagel, some cereal and a lot of OJ. I did not feel like riding this day at all. I felt a fever and my throat was dry and sore.

I mounted the bike and made my self one rule….one aid station at a time. This was the second biggest day. 66 Miles and 4000 feet of elevation up and over Monarch Pass (Elev. 11,312) and over the continental divide from the Pacific to the Atlantic side. Of course it started raining the first couple of miles, but by the time the first aid station at mile 18 came round, things were looking up both weather-wise and for me. I hit the john and felt better immediately. Filled up on bananas oranges and Gatorade and set off again. The sun was shining and I was making myself take triple swigs each time I reached for my water bottles. The Beatles “Getting Better” started buzzing in my head as my body was starting to come around. Reached the aid station in Sargents at the foot of Monarch Pass and actually felt hungry enough to eat a PB&J and a peanut butter Cliff Bar. Again I promised myself to ease it, but I couldn’t help pass it seemed hundreds of older folks (50+) already in their granny chain and I hardly felt anything. Looking back at the picture (inset) that I took from behind my back, it was steeper than I remembered at the time. Reminded me of Stateline hill along 9W heading back to NYC from Nyack only it was 10 miles of this. I stayed in the middle ring for about 3 quarters of the way and then had to stop for a nature break and eat a gel and another cliff Bar. As with every last peak, you knew you were getting close because the mobile DJ was crankin’ the tunes and it served as inspiration to all of us. I was getting cold and was looking forward to throwing on my jacket and leg warmers and eating some hot food. At last I reached the top and it was freezing!!!! Just a minute after reaching the summit I caught sight of Ken and Dustin. They offered to take pictures, but I was looking for the port a potty and was sort of incoherent. They looked ready to head downhill and I was gonna definitely chill for a while. Do I smell cheeseburgers? Yes!!!. The line was long, but my craving could not be squelched. On the cheeseburger line I ran into a rider from Colorado I rode with some of the first day – Craig and we caught up on the days in between and sat at a table out in the sun trying to warm up. I finally got up from the table an hour late.I was actually not looking too forward to hunching down in the drops for another ½ hour of straight downhill. Normally on any day I would, but there was a nasty sideways wind and it was blowing the riders out toward the outer edge of the cliff. As I was heading down it felt lke I had a flat. I slowed when it was clear to and checked the tires. Nope, there fine. Found out later that many cyclists had the same experience. Must have had something to do with the heavy winds. While stopped, I took a picture (above) of the view heading down. Just like at Grand Mesa, after about 20 minutes of wide endless switchbacks at 35 + miles an hour heat hit me like a furnace as we were again below the snow line. 17 miles of downhill later I reached the final aid station, filled up on water and dragged myself to Salida. The motel was just 5 blocks away from the High school where the campers set and the start/finish. The Motel looked like a total hole from the outside, but wasn’t too bad on the inside. I asked the owner what places I could order from, because I was in self-preservation mode and was gonna hibernate in bed and hope I was better tomorrow. I ordered a pepperoni pizza, Gatorade and potato chips and then lied comatose staring at the TV until I finally conked out around 9:00pm.

Eric's "Ride The Rockies" report. Fri. 6/24

Fri. 6/24 Salida to Leadvillle - 59 Miles

Woke up feeling almost 100 percent again after my acclimatizing issues Wed & Thursday. Met up with my buddies Doug, Ken & Dustin. Actually I caught up with them at aid station 1 and we just rolled from there. I was sporting my lovely Brooklyn Jersey that Atlas Client Heather Ballantyne gave me because her husband Frankie wasn’t biking. Thanks Heather. I was surprised that so many people commented to me about it and asked if I was from New York. Ironically the Jersey is an Italian Cycling team from the 1970’s sponsored by an Italian chewing gum factory called Brooklyn Chewing gum. If you ever get a chance to see the cycling documentary “A Sunday in Hell” you’ll see Belgian cyclist and Brooklyn team leader Roger De Vlaeminck lose the 1976 Paris-Roubaix by a bike length after dominating the race.

Any how, I meet up with the guys and had a nice relatively easy ride. The route we took along 285 was marvelous because to the riders left (as you’ll see in the pictures) the highest peaks of the Rockies are right there. Mt. Harvard and a couple of other Ivy league named peaks. Further down past Buena Vista, CO. the roaring rapids of the Arkansas river were on our right. It was a nice relaxing day, with some inclines and no real hills. 5 miles to go it began to rain mixed with some hail as we rose steadlily up to 10,000 feet. A few miles back Doug got something (maybe a passing bug) lodged in his throat. Dustin hung back with his pop while Ken and I picked up the pace. Ken had his HS reunion in Idaho the next day and was in a rush to grab the rental car to get to the airport. I followed his wheel as the weather drew worse. I pulled a bit and looked back and realized I dropped him. He was laboring from riding off the saddle as it was literally giving him a pain the ass. As usual on these long rides the ride planners liked to stick it to us and give us a nice sharp incline to the finish. I got shelter in Doug’s family camper for a little bit until the rain/hail let up. Like they tell us all the time here….if you don’t like the weather in Colorado, wait 20 minutes. Leadville was the one town that Terri did not have a room reserved as there were too few available to start with. This was a blessing in disguise. I found out there was a charter bus available from Leadville to Copper Mountain resort for the trip and had paid for a room there in April. About 25 minutes drive from Leadville and we drove up a long pass and I mentioned out loud to other passengers on the bus “Glad we’re not climbing this tomorrow” (laughing) “We are” said a woman’s voice near the front. “This is Fremont Pass. It starts at mile six”. I sighed and realized that the day had taken it out of me and I wasn’t fully 100% quite yet. Oh well, I thought. I’ll get a good night’s rest tonight and be in a better mood for a climb tomorrow than I am now.

All I can say about Copper Mountain Resort is Wow! (see above) It’s beautiful. The room overlooked a man made lake with pedal boats. The town is made up of cobblestone streets with every imaginable shop and restaurant. I had an early dinner at a sports themed bar & Grill called “Endo’s” and had a delicious turkey burger. If at anytime someone says to me where should we ski in Colorado, I’m definitely thinking Copper. Hit their grocery store for breakfast snacks (bananas, cliff bars) in a pre-emptive move as I had to get up extra early and be at the finish at Breckenridge early and didn’t want to stand around Leadville at the community breakfast for an hour. Was in bed by 8:00 pm (I am such the party boy) and set the alarm for 4:30am. Tomorrow was going to be a long long day and would end back in my bed back in NYC.

29 June 2005

Eric's "Ride The Rockies" report. Sat. 6/25

Sat. 6/25 – Leadville to Breckenridge – 45 miles

Last day and this was going to be a long one! Quite a bit of logistics involved. I awoke in lovely Copper Mountain resort at 4:30am. The weather channel says 40 degrees and so I dress accordingly, Knee warmers and my heavy jacket. I pack my suitcase and knapsack for p/up by the Alpine Cycle people who will deliver it back to me in Breckenridge. I catch the 5:30am charter back to the start at Leadville (Elevation 10,000+) Today was the day I was going to do a test ride on the $6,500 Serotta Titanium/Carbon Legend TI. This puppy was light!. The Mission was to be riding by 6:30 and get to Breckenridge between 9:30-10:00 – get my pedals and saddle swapped back on to my bike, take the bike to the company that was packing my bike and sending it back home. Find my luggage then shower at the portable shower bus and make the 12:00 Noon charter to Denver airport that I had a reservation for. From there it was a 4:55 flight to La Guardia.

After gulping a coffee, filled my water bottles and chewed on a cliff bar, I was off. It took me about 10 minutes to get really comfortable with the Shimano Ultegra gearing as my Giant has the entry level Tiagra gears. I skipped the first aid station just 9 miles out of Leadville at the foot of Fremont Pass which if anyone has climbed Bear Mountain, is very similar. Bear is 5 miles, Fremont pass is 4 and slightly less steep than Bear, but you are starting at 10,000 feet and climbing to 11,350 and boy I felt it. Anytime I went faster than 12 mph, I’d start hyperventilating, so I decided to keep it at 7-8mph. That worked Better! I managed to settle into a rhythm and started passing those early rising old farts (60 yo and over) It didn’t seem that long but 25 minutes later I was at the top, grabbed a banana to eat and one for later in my back jersey, hit the Port a potty then filled another bottle with Gatorade and down Fremont I went riding on “my” $6,500 dollar speed machine. The two lane road was very wide and very steep. Perfect for checking out how fast you could humanly go. The wind was light as I started downhill and shifted into the heaviest gear I could get my hands on and away I went. Whoopeee!!!!. I have never gone faster than 42mph on my giant, but on the Serotta, I was at 44mph and I wasn’t at the steepest part yet! I hunched down into my lowest position and glanced every now and then to see my eventual top speed – 48mph!!. I think the Serotta just felt so much more stable than my bike does at speed so I was comfortable pushing it. Carefully, I whooshed past some more tentative riders and eventually got down do what seemed flat land about 15 minutes later. The signs lead to an intimately narrow two lane bike path surrounded by deep vegetation and felt to be on a continuously slight downhill. It was the best damn little bike path I was ever on!! The name of this path is the “Ten Mile Creek Bike path” I highly recommend it. What made it especially fun was that the direction of the path was never fully revealed until you were about 30 yards from the turn, due to the trees and the sharpness of the curves. I averaged about 25mph for the next half-hour of pure heaven! It was still early, about 8:15 and so there were few cyclists going the other way to contend with and it seemed that I was definitely one of the earliest risers for the last day, so I had the path almost to myself. I had skipped a little aid station after Fremont Pass to make time and got to the aid station at the end of the dreamy bike path in Frisco, CO. and pulled out a snickers I had bought yesterday and ate another banana. Re-filled the water/Gatorade and had 10 more miles that (as the profile shows) went slightly uphill as I left Frisco on route 9 to Breckenridge. I latched on to a group of 3 riders and basically drafted off of them. I pulled to the front twice just to be polite, but I was definitlely letting them do the work and they seemed happy to. They rarely even drafted eachother so, I kept getting on the wheel of whichever bike happened to be closer to me. It was a long ten miles and I was getting a little tired when I finally sqaw the sign welcoming us to Breckenridge. As usual there was a slight uphill as got near the finish. All of a sudden there are crowds on both sides of the road. Clapping, cheering, banging cow bells. Wow! I feel like I’m at a race with fans and everything! Cool! I make a final sweep left and then right onto the main drag and the finish. There’s 300 people clapping and cheering us and it’s 9:45am!. I could only imagine what the finish line crowd would be like at 12:00 or 1:00pm. I made great time too!. As I made it over to the Serotta dealers, locals were patting me on the back and little children looked up at me in awe as if I was a pro or something. It hit me there that the “Ride the Rockies” wasn’t easy and not everyone could do it or imagine doing it and here I was at Breckenridge. I had ridden all 405 miles of the trip and rode well. Even on my bad day up Monarch Pass I still was a lot stronger than most. The icing on the cake was that I didn’t have one single flat the whole trip. Those who know me, know I fear changing a flat. I’m all thumbs to this day about it but am determined to improve on it, but I was relieved I didn’t have to on this trip anyway. Got my bike back, dropped it off to the People Powered Sports outfit that was shipping my bike and quickly found my luggage amongst other in the parking lot. Hit the shower and felt brand new and ready to hit the bus by 11:15. I walked over to the main st. in Breckenridge and grabbed a turkey & Swiss sandwich, a Gatorade and water for the 90 min. bus trip to DIA. As the bus headed to Denver I marveled at the beauty of the fast flowing river along side the highway as it continued nearly it seemed to downtown Denver. I realized what a great week it was and how blessed I was to not have any accidents or injuries this long week. I sat on that bus completely satisfied and at Peace. My only lingering thought was when am I gonna see this beautiful place again?

Maybe next year….


15 June 2005

The FBF Massacre, or The Strangest Race

Well now, last night was interesting. I’ll try to relay all of the fun and excitement of the Cat 5 FBF race last night, but I’m sure that there are other stories.

Well, things started out all fine and dandy like normal. There were a few squirrelly riders mixed in with the group, but hey it’s Cat 5, you have to expect as much. The first four laps of our five-lap race go pretty well. Holding a decent pace myself and another unattached rider tried for a break on lap 2, just to break the group up and tire them out a little. It only held for a kilometer or so, but it wasn’t really meant to last. There were a few other attempts at breaks, but they all relented to the 91 degree heat after a kilometer or so as well.

Lap four comes around and the 1’s catches the Cat 5 group before the first corner. The race coordinators neutralize our field till the 1’s pass. Just as an aside, for those who are new to racing, never, ever pass the pace car. When they slow down to neutralize the field stay behind them or else the coordinators are going to get in a car and come and yell at your group. Not fun. So anyway, the coordinators come up to talk to the 12 or so of us who were in the front of the group when it was neutralized. We ask for another lap to make up for the neutralized lap (it did end up being about half of the last lap that was neutralized). We get the lap and start passing the news back through the group. Problem #1. Some idiot in the middle of the field keeps yelling, “Last lap!” as we’re trying to get the info about the extra lap through the pack. As a result about half the pack think that we’re stopping at 5 laps and the other half think that we’re going for 6. Now, the coordinators should have used the megaphone or at least rolled back through the group to let everyone know about the extra lap, but by this point it was a pretty ornery group and I don’t think that there was any better way to get the info out then the way it was handled, by the group itself.

So they release the group just before the second corner. There’s a quick mad dash to regain placement and soon order is restored. We come around the final corner and those that didn’t hear about the extra lap start a sprint. But those of us that do know think that they’re trying a break and set up to chase. The only problem is that those who were going for sprint sat up once they were over the line and those of us that were chasing had to maneuver through a group of riders sitting up after a hard sprint. (Apparently there was a crash at this point right on the first corner, but I was up at the front of the pack and didn’t see anything.) As we come around the corner we’re neutralized once more, this time because we caught the 4’s. We’re let go just before the second corner once again and in the mad dash to regain position a rider goes down one place up and on my left. He brings down a few riders behind him and to his left in one of the most painful looking crashes I’ve ever seen. As the group passes him and rounds the second corner there’s another dash to pick up positions that were lost by this crash. Of course this results in one rider clipping another riders rear wheel and the first rider goes down hard. This second crash happened further up in the field proving that even the front of the pack isn’t safe in a Cat 5 race. So now I’m still in the top 20 of this large field, but I have to sprint up to regain position before coming into the last corner. We come around the corner and sprint for the line. Once again I come in somewhere ~15th having had to fight my way through two crashes, one right before the sprint. I don’t know the field size as the results haven’t been posted on racelistings.com yet, but I’d imagine it was close to last week.

Overall not a bad finish for a race that had more confusing twists and turns that anyone expected.

Apparently there were winners for the 5th lap sprint and the 6th lap sprint as well. Once I have the results I’ll put them up as well.

Till Sunday’s Tour of New York,


08 June 2005

Romancing the Sprint, Or, Who knew Cat 5 had team tactics?

So I’ve been sick, really out of it cold and flu stuff for the past week or so. So as a result I missed two weeks of FBF (Floyd Bennett Field) racing fun, including the first race with Euri the machine from Miya Shoji out of the 5’s and in the 4’s. So finally yesterday I was able to race again. A week out sick and then a week of training and trying to get some form back resulted in a fairly good ride last night. The Cat 5 race was fairly quick at 24mph average for the 5 lap, 11.5 mile course with a large field of 41 starters.

Now this really isn’t impressive for FBF, however the fact that we were racing in 90 degree weather with a 15mph wind coming out of the south made it all the more intense (read draining). Not much happened in the early portion of the race, a few mechanicals and some squirrelly riding around a large puddle on the back flat kept the pace nice and light. A small group of riders broke off the front on lap 3 with myself, a Kissena rider, the two Miya Shoji guys and a few others (about 8 in all). We were caught on the back straight, but stayed towards the front and kept the pace up into the last lap.

On lap 4 something happened that would shape the finish of the race, the wind shifted from corner 3 to corner 4, right into the finish. Previously, the group had been slowing after corner 3 with any breaks being formed after corner 4 heading into the start/finish. So in the bell lap a two-man break formed on the back straight. Nobody thought that they would keep away, especially with the wind on the back half of the course, so the group just kicked the pace up a bit and slowly reeled them in. Then after passing the 1km to go point the pack started to wind up for the bunch sprint. All of a sudden teams became organized. People started lead-out trains with the riders pulling off into the field completely wiped after their turn at the front was done. This kept those of us without teams swerving through the mass of cast off lead-out men and fighting to contest the sprint.

This was when I made my mistake. I pulled off to the left of the field in an attempt to pull up a few spots, but I forgot that the wind had shifted and pulled out too soon. I did move up, to about 15th – 18th by my count, but not as far as I feel I could have. But I did have a good strong sprint at ~34 mph (again into the wind) according to my computer and I did move up a good 5-6 places as well.

Overall the race was definitely a success and I can’t wait till next week when I use FBF as a training race for the Kissena Prospect Park series.

Till next week.


26 May 2005

Matt meets Mario in Florence. Posted by Hello

10 May 2005

Training Stuff: Sample Week

This comes from my friend Tom Ziermann, a Cat. 2 racer for CRCA/Next:

For beginning racers and/or racers with limited training time

Easy day, try and loosen-up and recover from the weekend. Low gear (42x 17, 16, 15)
90rpm or more, flat terrain, no hills. 15-25 miles (1-2 hours)

Speedwork and/or Intervals
Two separate workouts can be done. In the morning do sprints, in the afternoon do intervals.

Sprint workout: 3-5 sprints (250 meters) on flat road or gradual down hill.
Intervals: 1km hard, 4km easy. 5-6 sets. As your fitness improves do longer intervals.
25-40 miles.

Longest ride of the week with some hills. 30-50 miles.

Much like Tuesday. Sprints and Intervals (3-4 each)

Low gears like Monday. Easy spin.

If racing Sunday do and easy day 30-40 miles. If no race do a long group ride.

Race Day. If no race train like a race. Hard group rides are good for this.

Total weekly miles: 145-245 miles

Other notes:
If time is limited a 30 minute easy spin on indoor train is good for a recovery ride (Mon/Fri).
Don’t take the day off before a race. If you want a day off take it 2 days before the race.

27 April 2005

Correction: Forsyth Places Fifth at Branchbrook

King of the Jungle

Submitted by Matt Purdue

Obviously I could not see what in the hell was happening at the finish line at last weekend's Branchbrook race. How rude of all those riders who finished in front of me to block my view!

Chris Forsyth actually finished fifth in a field of some 40 riders, including some very strong Cat. 4s. Again, Chris did this without the benefit of any help from his only teammate: me. Chris rode a smart race, hanging toward the back and saving his legs until the final sprint. Nice work, Chris.

With Cipollini now retired, we seem to have a new Lion King in the making.

26 April 2005

Race Report: Prospect Park, Brooklyn, 4/24

Hi Team,

Things went well, especially considering it was my first Cat. 4 race (it was actually a combined field, cat. 3 + 4).

Of course, it started raining just before I woke up, so I slapped the fenders on and donned warmer clothing (they came off before the race). It took me longer than I thought to get there, so I rushed a bit (well, a lot) and was therefore pretty warmed up.

My race was the cat. 3/4 field, 37.5 miles, 11 laps with a field of about 40; it looked like there were more cat. 3’s than cat. 4’s. The Prospect Park loop has a few narrow spots and curbs but for the most part it wasn't too scary.

After the first lap, I wasn’t sure I could hold on for the whole race, but I was determined not to loose contact with the pack. At times the speeds were pretty fast, but I had enough juice to pull ahead when I saw opportunities. It seemed like most of us simply took turns near the front, and for the most part, the pack was never spread out that much. There were breaks all the time, but they all got caught. As the race wore on, the pack seemed to be happy enough to take it relatively slow for short periods.

The pressure was usually on climbing that one hill; this is where the speed would pick up, and I’d have to really push to stay in contact, but it wasn’t too hard to move up once the hill was over. On the last lap after the hill, the pack was split in two; I was towards the front of the second group, and the first group was pulling away. Once past the hill, I went into time trial mode and just pushed like hell. It took me nearly a mile but I caught them (and towed about 10 guys with me). Unfortunately, that left me pretty spent for the finish (which was long and flat). Once the finish was in sight, Everyone bolted, including me. To be honest, I don’t really know how I did; there were at least 15 people ahead of me, but I don’t know if they who were 3’s or 4’s.

If I learned anything, it was that it’s more important to stay with the pack than anything else. It would probably have been less effort to keep up on the hill one way or another than to catch them with a virtual time trial effort. I could also be closer to the front, since my being about 3/5 of the way back was why I got separated when the pack split up. I didn’t get out of the saddle at all to climb; since the hill is long (maybe ½ mile) and not very steep, it made more sense to say seated and just get in a good rhythm. Another mistake I made was after the race—I just coasted to a halt and got of the bike, then stood around eating energy bars with some friends for a good half-hour. When I got back on the bike to go home, I felt like a 99-year-old man getting into a cold tub.

It was great to ride with these more experienced, more predictable, stronger and less dangerous racers, and I know I beat some of them, so I’m pretty happy. I was not too cold, and I never felt like I was dying or anything (the worst I felt was in the first ¼ of the race, pretty typical for me). Before we got to the last lap, I actually entertained thoughts of trying to place in 5th or better in cat. 4, but I used up my reserves catching the pack. Overall I’m pleased.


Race Report: Branchbrook, Newark, 23 April 05

Welcome to the Jungle

Submitted by Matt Purdue

When Chris F. and I rolled to the starting line, we knew we were in for it. Of the 40-some riders in the field, only five of us were unattached. The rest of the field consisted of teams of various shapes, sizes and colors.

The attacks began as soon as the race began, with riders flying off the front, attacking and counterattacking almost immediately. Teammates would surge to the head of the pack, then drop back to let other teammates counterattack. It felt like I was floating in a hot air balloon watching F-18s dogfight around me with 50mm cannons.

Half of the Branchbook Park course is a narrow, rather twisty flat that runs along the backside of the park. Along most of this portion, riders were literally rubbing shoulders and elbows at 26 mph. If you were caught on the inside of a turn, you were squeezed against the curb by the pack. This seemed like a recipe for disaster. Finally, on lap 4, the pack pinched an unattached Century rider against the curb; I was directly behind him, and saw that he literally had nowhere to go. In hindsight, the only thing he could have done was hold his line, stick out his elbows, lean back into the pack and hope for the best

Instead, he drifted into the curb. I first heard a loud “tick, tick, tick” that must have been his pedal scraping the curb, then I saw him pitch violently to the right and catapult off his bike. His tire blew with a shrill “PSSSSSSSS” and the pack flew by. (Chris later talked to him; he was dirty but unhurt, having landed on the grass.)

Chris and I spent most of the race trying to stay out of trouble. I wasted too much time on the front, battling my ever-increasing heart rate and the wind. Chris spent too much time off the back, trying to fight his way up through the pack. Meanwhile, riders were constantly taking wild chances, shooting through gaps no wider than 42cm handlebars.

The finish came down to a field sprint and neither Chris nor I were factors. I finished about 18th and Chris was not far behind me. So for results this race gets a C-. But as a learning experience this race gets an A.

18 April 2005

The View From the Back (or a First Race Of The Season post)

Well Matt and Craig have what happened at the front of the race down, and as this was my first race of the season I got a good look at the back of the pack. See I was one of the many who got shelled in the second lap. So from my memory, this is what happened:

The race starts and we all roll off together. I think to myself, hey I remember this...I can do this. I stay towards the front of the pack up to the lake and I’m feeling pretty good. I’m ready to move to the front and cover the break for Matt and Craig. But as Matt said, the best laid plans… By the time we crest Harlem Hill for the first time I'm clinging to the back of the pack with a nasty leg cramp. Apparently I remembered how to race, but not how to warm up for a short 12 miler that's more crit than road race. Oh well. Pretty soon after the rollers on lap one I find myself off the back, about 10 feet off the main field. I stay in this position for the rest of the lap, but by the time we hit the Boathouse I start to cramp again. Since I'm just far enough off the back to stay out of the draft I'm working pretty damn hard to try and catch the field.

By the time Harlem Hill starts to rise up in front of us again I realize that it's not going to happen as the field slowly inches away from me. First it's 15 feet, then 20 then as we hit the winding rollers after the Hill and they're gone.

I power my way through the rollers desperate to not fall to the group I see behind me in the distance. As I pass riders who have fallen to mechanicals and flats from the numerous deep and jagged potholes along the west side of the park they shout encouragement. I finish by myself between the main field and the group behind (which by the end of the race has turned into two or three lonely tired racers who rolled in ~4 min after me) and roll into the registration area, not really hurting, but that will come later when I try to cross the Brooklyn Bridge on my way home. All in all it was what it was for me. First race of the season, didn’t abandon and wasn’t caught by the 1’s. Next up, Prospect Park on the 22nd, can’t wait to be on my home turf again…

A hearty welcome to reality: Metro, 17 April 05

I thought this was the first real race of the year that I had been in. As Matt said, I’m sure it felt harder because of my (our) having dead legs from a hard ride(s) the day before but it also seemed that it really was a harder race. The field had almost unrelenting attacks. There were only just a few occasions when the pack ‘sat up’ for a breather. Uri did not seem to have the dominating burst I had seen in him in a previous race. Maybe the rower winner added a new challenge for the points leaders; a challenge that was great enough that they could not overcome it.

It seemed the field dropped quite a few people and it was single file for much of the time. It was tough. This race is this year’s cat 5 welcome to racing seems to me. It should not be easy to even sit in the field.

In terms of our strategy I felt I should have bridged up to the breakaway rider. At the bottom of the big hill on lap 2 was the time to do it. But my legs did not want to try that. So I did not. I said to myself I just want to rest and stay here in the draft. Bad thinking. An anaerobic burst at the right spot would have won a medal. I enjoyed watching Uri fail in chasing down the rower. Ha.

Also as Matt said, Echelon was a non-factor. Why? In my assessment, we did not have the horsepower to do much either individually or collectively. We could not execute at all our well laid plans unfortunately. To my mind, we need a much higher level fitness base especially when ‘ringers’ like the rowing guy show up. I simply finished in the field sprint right behind Matt. There was a surge up the hill in the sprint on the left side, but we were on the right. To achieve a higher fitness base we need to ride a lot more. Surprise! But who’s got the time.


Race Report: Metro Series, Central Park, 17 April 05

Something Ventured, Nothing Gained

Submitted by Matt Purdue

What happened? It’s a good thing we don’t have any sponsors, as Team Echelon was a nonfactor in Sunday’s Spring Points Series race in Central Park. Maybe the fact that three of us did long rides on Saturday had something to do with the dead legs, but no excuses. Other than adding another race to the upgrade list, it was a waste of time, money and whatever little energy we had.

Joe, Craig, me and Daniel (his first race of the year) actually had a plan. Everyone would fight to the front on the first roller after Harlem Hill, then Joe and I would try to break while Craig and Daniel blocked at the front of the pack. The best laid plans….

The pace was snappy from the outset, meaning we’d have to go anaerobic just to claw our way to the front. We were all boxed in on the first roller, then Joe finally tunneled his way to clear air coming into the second roller. He took off like a shot with me on his tail, but we were immediately reeled in by the pack.

Eli and Euri are 1 and 3 in the points, so, to their credit, they sat at the front and effectively controlled the race. They covered almost every break and took it down to 18 mph when they felt like it. No one could seemed to have the horses or the organiztion to challenge them. They are very smart riders.

Finally, on lap 2 near the reservoir, a group surged on the right and caught the leaders napping. Some CRCA guy at the head of break took off by himself. We got to within 20 meters of him at the bottom of Harlem Hill, then he just stepped on the gas and disappeared. He stayed away to win. After the race, rumor had it that he is an Olympic rower turned cyclist. Whatever.

The race for second turned into another field sprint up Cat's Paw. I took 11th. I did not see the rest of our guys until after the race. They looked shell-shocked.

11 April 2005

Purdue places second in the CRCA C race. Now maybe he'll get a bike with stickers on it. Posted by Hello

Race Report: CRCA, 9 April 2005

Break It Down

Submitted by Matt Purdue

I rode up to the race with Chris Forsyth, and as we were dodging broken glass in the dark on 6th Avenue, I told him I thought there would be an early break. You don’t have to be one of Dionne Warwick’s Psychic Friends to foresee a break in a C race, but I figured that when it happened, I’d give it a try.

It happened a lot earlier than I thought it would—on the first roller after Harlem Hill. Two guys jumped away and got 20-meter lead before anyone knew what was going on. In fact, if you were not in the top 10 in the peloton, you might not even have seen it happening. I didn’t think it would have a chance to stay away, but I was riding third in the peloton and decided to bridge up anyway.

I, a blue-and-gold rider named Kenny and a Visit Britain rider named Steve immediately picked up the pace. We were above 22mph coming up the last roller near the Reservoir. On a “fast training ride” around the Park, I usually hit that roller at 18 or 19. The three of us were joined by two Skyline riders and I figured they would try to bring us back to the group, but they soon dropped back.

So there we were, very lonely, with four-and-half-laps to go. We worked together, each taking 20-second pulls. We were flying—30+ mph on the flat near West 72nd Street, 27 mph coming around through horseshit alley. I had no idea how I would stay on. My heart felt like it would explode through my chest. Even when I was the No. 3 man, I was riding 3 to 4 mph faster than I would normally go on a “fast” Park ride. I’m curious to see the lap times from CRCA.

But I just kept clinging to Kenny’s wheel and enjoying Steve’s monster pulls. It’s no wonder he’s on Visit Britain. We communicated almost constantly. “Keep it smooth. Don’t pull off so wide. Don’t surge when it’s your turn.” We got a time check on the bell lap--“2-minute lead”--but there would be no let up. Finally, on our last pass by West 72nd St., Steve floored it. He was well above 30 mph.

Steve remained in control as we swung around the carousel, then gapped me and Kenny, leaving both of us panting. He rode to what looked like an easy victory. I snuck past Kenny on Cat’s Paw and took second.

After the race, I jawed with some riders for about 10 minutes. When I remounted my bike for the ride home, I couldn’t pedal. My hamstrings were locked in a vise. The lactic acid in my legs made even clicking in an act of self-torture. I had to stand on the pedals all the way to 57th St. until my legs loosened up enough to creep home.

Props to Kenny and Steve for some great pacelining.

Note to Team Echelon: Fellas, a breakaway will work, even a relatively slow one. Our break gained 3+ minutes on the pack. We could have averaged 1-2mph slower and still won. Something to think about.

08 April 2005

Mon Dieu! Patrick in Hospital!

Echelon teammate Patrick Littlefield crashed yesterday on a ride out on Long Island (at Cedar Creek Park) and broke his collarbone. He's currently in the hospital and will most likely be released later today or tomorrow.

Patrick was in a group of six other riders, overcooked a tight hairpin and went over the curb, causing him to go over the handlebars and collide with a metal garbage container. Landing on his head and shoulder, he was semiconcious when his fellow riders called 911. He just called me and is in good spirits considering the situation. He told me that when he get's home he will check his email. Don't call his cell, as he needs the rest right now.

His wife, he told me, is a saint. His wife understands the inherent risk of his passion. As you may know the Littlefield's are expecting their second child next week

03 April 2005

Metropolitan Series: 3 April 05

He's baaaaaack!
Team Echelon Takes Third, Fifth

Submitted by Matt Purdue

Racers: Chris F., Matt P., Matt R., David R.

The rain politely held off for today's race, althought it would have been nice to have some water on the roads to wash away the branches, chestnuts and other debris. As it were, we spent the race dodging bedknobs and broomsticks.

Because of the relatively small field, the organizers lengthened the race to three laps. Finally, we got our money's worth. But the leaders didn't seem to realize that we'd be forced to ride an extra 6.1 miles. The tempo was allegro from the start, with Eli (the series leader) and Euri (Team Miya Shoji) setting the early pace.

After 1 1/4 laps, the field had split into two groups. Chris F. and Matt P. stayed with the lead pack, which saw Eli and Euri play cat and mouse for miles. Eli spent plenty of time forcing Euri to pull, only to leave Euri out in the wind whenever he pulled off. It was interesting to watch this Amstel Gold Race gamesmanship in a Cat. 5 race.

At the halfway point, Matt P. hit a pothole and heard the dreaded cobra: HSSSSSS! After two post-race flats on Saturday, he was convinced he had again been snakebit. He actually pulled over to check his tires. But they were still rock hard. Damn! A guy behind him had flatted. The pack raced away and Matt P. spent the next four miles playing catchup, finally regrouping with the leaders on Harlem Hill.

Eli and Euri dueled like Ali vs. Frazier at the head of the pack the rest of the way. Meanwhile, our dark horse, Chris F., bided his time. Awake until 2 a.m. the night before the race, Chris F. admitted he was tired, but when it came time to hammer, he responded. In the final sprint up Cat's Paw, Chris F. clung to Eli and Euri like Velcro. At the top he snagged thirdplace in one of our fastest races yet! Keep in mind this is the guy who tumbled arse over elbows a few weeks ago and cracked his helmet.

Props to Chris F. for completing his comeback. Matt P. also earned a trophy, placing fifth.

Euri pipped Eli at the line for his second consecutive win. Someone please tell this kid to upgrade! Expect Euri and Eli to battle it out for the points championship.

02 April 2005

Race Report: CRCA #2, 2 April 05

I Want to Be Sedated

Submitted by Matt Purdue

Now I know why the pros take drugs.

Friday night my mother-in-law called with dire predictions. “Heaviest rain in 10 years,” she wheezed. “I’m having a panic attack!” Undaunted, I woke up at 5 a.m. to a steady sprinkle, donned my Gore-Tex jacket and headed out.

At the start line, I was happy to see teammate David “Weather Channel” Regen. Even after warning us all of the coming monsoon, David was out to brave the elements. There were only five riders in the C race, so I figured David and I could own this race for Team Echelon. Even better, the organizers announced they were shortening each race by one lap. Only four laps! Woo hoo.

Then they told us they were combining the B and C fields--and we’d be doing six laps. Thanks.

We set off in a light, steady rain. The pace was snappy from the get-go, riders apparently eager to get this over with. At some point early in the day, a breakaway escaped, leaving us with a group of about 15 riders. While the rain quickly soaked us to the bone, this was the least of our worries. The spray from the tires made it almost impossible to see at times. The dirt, pebbles, leaves and, yes, horse crap kicked up by the wheels was, to put it mildly, disgusting.

After a couple of laps, our little chase group--which now included only two C riders, me and a guy on a vintage Colnago--slowed to a crawl. Either the leaders were blocking for their teammates or their muscles had become waterlogged and frozen. Coming past the softball fields, we were barely staying upright at 16 mph. I was bored out of my mind, and deluded myself into thinking that maybe CRCA would score B and C riders separately at the finish. Time to jump!

I desperately attempted to get away from the group. First I tried jumping onto a two-man breakaway, but couldn’t hang on. I tried two solo breakaways, but was reeled in by our pack. So, feet numb and eyes caked with road crap, I settled in for the last two laps. I entertained myself by watching Setanta’s Todd Brilliant (some of you know him from NYCC) run his own paceline. He was constantly pulling, dropping back, then zipping back to the front—on an all steel bike! He burned more calories than our entire pack combined. The only thing that slowed him down was the loose dog that ran out into the street near Cat’s Paw. He nearly caused a five-man pileup.

The pace picked up to the mid 20s on the final lap, and I spotted Matt Rivera marshalling, his waterlogged jacket plastered to his head. I wondered which one of us was crazier. The pack made the requisite “pride sprint” up Cat’s Paw and that was it. I finished about 5th in the pack, ahead of the other C rider. I was fine with that until I found out that the breakaway had beaten us by 3 ½ minutes!

It was a wild experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. At the end of the race, we all looked at each other with that deranged, hollow-eyed sense of accomplishment usually reserved for POW camp survivors.

Rubber side down.

28 March 2005

Team Echelon's "Il Padrone" Craig Breed on one of his patented solo breaks (Photo swiped from NYVelocity.com. Sorry, but it's a public forum.)  Posted by Hello

Patrick's Pen: Tales From the Peleton

A Visitors Guide to Anaerobia
CRCA Easter Sunday Race

Submitted by Patrick Littlefield

It's like deja vu: Here I am again at 4:15 a.m., in the kitchen, in the dark, pulling on the lycra and mixing my bottles to go out in the freezing cold and race my bike. What the hell is the matter with me?? It's EASTER SUNDAY for you-know-who's-sake. But out I go, to dobattle with the young and limber.

Easter Sunday, back in Central Park. I'm hiding in the Cat 5 field. Shouldn't be here really, but I wantedto ride with a few of my friends who are Cat 5 racers, so rather than ride my own ticket, which is Cat 4, I'm illicitly doing the 5 race on a one-day license. Oooooh, quick someone call the cycling police! So, second race of the season. This is only 2 laps ofCentral Park, so it should be fairly quick. I registered, pinned on my number, and rolled out for a lap and a half warm up. A bit of Tempo then a few short, hard kicks to let the legs know what's coming.

Rolled to the start line, found the boys, said hello to a few guys from Long Island and we're off. Unlike yesterday's race, this starts sharply, some ofthese guys wanna show everyone they're real bike racers in the first 500 yards. Literally this thing goes hard single file before we've made it to the Obelisk! I catch a wheel, settle in and look around trying to spot who might be dangerous in this field, as there are a few very young kids with us it seems. All together down the hill at the top of the park, and when we hit Harlem Hill the first time we are NOT soft-pedeling. Peak 1-minute effort of the day is the first time up the hill and still one of the young'uns goes off the front solo.

HA! says the bitter old bald guy, he'll blow by the end of the rollers and be off the back by Tavern On The Green. Wrong. He wasn't kidding and was gone for almost a whole lap. Only an organized effort got him back just as we hit the base of Harlem Hill the second time. So it was a stiff first lap, but since this is only a two-lap race now it's...SHOWTIME! A few feints and jabs by the fitter guys in the group, with the real hitters sitting tight saving it for the EastSide. I roll towards the front past Summer Stage and as we planned, I drilled it past Tavern to Columbus Circle. Only problem was, we were already flying along, so I only raised the pace by a marginal amount. The boys and I (the CRCA guys) were supposed to be 1-2-3-4 going around the bottom of the park and back up past the Carousel to discourage anyone else, but when I looked behind me, I only saw Ericon my wheel. Matt and Craig got boxed in somewhere. Best laid plans often go awry.

So Eric pulls through past ColumbusCircle and I'm blown, I float five guys back and push back in to the paceline abruptly ("sorry dude"). Eric does his bit and pulls off, having wasted energy like I did, and its status quo up Horseshit Alley past the carousel. We fly up the rise past the skating rink and I found a gap on the right to get back to the front. I figure I 'm not gonna sprint with these guys--no upside in that--so when we crest the rise I pulled onto the front and led the field out to the bottom of Cat's PawHill.

It was my intention to lead the field onto Cat'sPaw Hill, but once we hit the bottom, the fast guys came right around me and it was GAME ON. So for the second day in a row I watch as the boys hurtle into the Republic of Anaerobia as I roll up the hill, happy with my lot in life, but confident this was my last time in aCat 5 field. Been there, done that, onwards and upwards. For the record though, today's Cat 5 race was more intense than yesterday's Cat 4 race by any measure except distance and total kilojules expended. Peak power output for any given amount of timewas greater today than yesterday. The Powermeter doesn't lie. Go figure.

Race Report: Metro Series, Central Park, 27 March 05

More Top 10 Finishes--Purdue 7th, Breed 8th

Submitted by Eric Faber

Well, gentleman, my fifth race of the year was the first "actual race"
from start to finish. OUCH! The pace started at the entrance to the
downhill toward the Lasker rink when a red-haired dude named
Danny jetted by me after my perfunctory starting pull up at the front.
Side note: I bumped into Danny last week after last Sunday's race on
the bike path. I found out that he was 2nd in the U.S. Under 23s in
1991, and the next year missed the cut for the Olypmic team and sort of
dropped off from there out of his admitted petulant
frustration. He's getting back into it, obviously. Danny forced the
whole pack to the fastest I have ever gone down and around Lasker and
up Harlem Hill. In fact, I immediately felt my right thigh cramping.

So as soon as Danny got near the top of Harlem Hill, the star of the Miya Shioji team, Euri Madera, was gone!...poof! ..disappeared!! That guy Elijah and the big guy on the Green Cannondale (Marcus) spoke up on the west side on the first
lap and ordered us to line it up to a double paceline and work
together or we were gonna lose this guy. So for the next 5 miles we
all hauled ass until we caught sight of our prey, who finally gave it
up where he first poured it on...Harlem Hill.

We took a relative breather until the first roller at 105th St. Here
is where the order that was present before just disappeared, and in
its place came tension and mistrust. We all seemed to be grouped four
across and front wheels and back wheels were getting too close to
each other. I was doing my very best to find a slot and caught one only
to hear it from Elijah that I wasn't holding the line. In the
heat of battle I wasn’t in the mood to be talked at, so defensively
spit out that " I was on my F%^%& line" and what was he “gonna do...go
through me?!!!". I admit I could have been calmer, but the pace and the
very real tension of imminent disaster made me let off some
steam. Things didn't change much and I decided I needed some breathing
room, so I shot off the front just so I didn't have to feel hemmed
in by a bunch of ankles and elbows.

As soon as I took off, I put a scare into the field and a couple of
sprinters shot off like catapults past me before the lake. Man, they
were fast!!!! I feared that I had opened a Pandora’s box and now it
was gonna be a full sprint from Tavern on the Green to Cat's Paw!!!
Well, luckily the sprinters up front slowed down and let themselves be
swallowed up again. Next thing I know there we were...me, Matt P.,
Craig and Patrick are at the front four across at Sheepmeadow!
Patrick pulled up to the front and I slid in behind thinking, well we
might as well follow the plan we had talked about the night
before...be at the front at Tavern and do 10-second pulls. The
problem was that unbeknownst to Patrick and me, Matt and Craig were boxed in by the pack! So...Patrick and I flapped in the wind until we did
the turn at Horse Shit Alley where we were swallowed up. It was
there that I noticed just how anaerobic I was and was praying for a
breather. I got my wind back in the pack and mentally prepared my
checklist for the final sprint. Stay close and stay in my seat until
I'm seeing the finish straight ahead after the righthand curve. Good idea,
except when you've got guys on Miya Shioji and Marcus getting off the saddle and blowing by everyone early at the hill. Miya Shioji placed
first and Marcus second. Echelon finished with Matt 7th, Craig 8th, followed directly by Patrick. I think I finished 10th or 11th out of 20 or so.

Here's the tale of the computer readout: first lap--15:36; second lap—15:34 for a total of 31:10. 23.3 mph average speed. Quite amazing pace since I clocked last Sunday’s 2-lapper at 33:O5. Wow. Knocked off 1:55
this week!!

Rob Metcalf was there with his camera and he took some photos of the
four of us in our CRCA jerseys and took some pics of the race. Looking
forward to checking them out.