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Showing posts from August, 2015

Participation Redux

Friday's post was inspired by Wanky's blog entry on equality and prize money. His basic premise (which I agree with 100%) was that prizes should be equal for men and women. Where we differ is on the reasons people enter this race or that race.

His position is that large cash prizes attract large fields. My position is that most of the rank and file racers (the ones that pay the bills and don't have a legitimate shot at any money) race because racing is really fun.

Our views are likely shaped by our environments.

In Southern California (and other cycling hotbeds), there is a large population. There are surrounding areas and states that have relatively large populations. Even considering that road racing is a small segment of a fringe sport, there is a large population of road-racing cyclists relative to other areas of the country. Travel is not necessarily excessively expensive to get from race to race. Road systems are developed and varied. The climate is such that year-roun…

Participation

Wanky's post from Thursday about women's racing and equal payouts got me thinking. I should probably stop doing that. We differ on why people do or don't show up for races, and how to increase participation. While I've never been wrong before, I am self-aware enough to realize that the remote possibility does exist. Wanky and I race in very different worlds, so what might be true in mine may not be true in his. I don't really care, as long as I'm right.

This year the Arctic Bike Club Road Division awarded the GC podiums cash prizes in the upper classes. While it's common practice in the Lower 48, I can't remember the last time we did that. We usually race just for bragging rights and a maybe trophy crafted from old bike parts.

Attendance was down this year. Obviously the promise of money didn't drive racers away, but it didn't attract them either. While I appreciate the board's willingness to try new things, this is certainly something that sh…

The Numbers Game

Ever since I received Wanky's Rules For Wealth Through Blogging, I've been making an effort to post semi-regularly. With this increase in posting frequency came an increase in people actually reading the blog. I have this neat little graph that tells me how many people viewed this page on a given day, and a map to show where they are from. Apparently I'm huge in Turkmenistan.

If you watch the numbers, day after day, you become fixated upon them. It's kinda like being a group ride leader. You wonder why one day was attendance higher than another, and why some days nobody shows up. Was it something you said? Was it something you didn't say? Is your mouthwash still cutting it? Why don't people like you?

Usually bumps boil down to a mention in someone's Facebook timeline. I wrote about Joey Bacala, he said something nice about it on Facebook (I have it framed if you want to see it), and I almost crashed the Google servers with over 5 views. Joey has these things …

Nesting in the Trainer Dungeon

It's been getting slightly cooler and darker around here. As much as I want to avoid it and as much as global warming seems to be intent on preventing it, it's going to get colder. Eventually it will get cold enough that my mileage will drop off significantly. Shortly after that, I won't go anywhere. My bike will be chained to the LeMond Revolution in my trainer dungeon.

Since I can see it coming, some of my projects around the house will involve cleaning up the mess I've created in the garage since last spring. The piles are overflowing into the narrow path I trod to get to my bike out the door every day. Dancing around tricycles, tools, extension cords, ski gear, and all sorts of other expensive-but-now-neglected stuff in cycling cleats keeps me nimble, but eventually that piece of derailleur cable housing is going to roll underfoot and cause me to rethink my organization strategy.

I need some room to build up the various frames I have hanging from the ceiling so I can…

Mileage

Pete and I did a longer ride Saturday.

While I have been getting more volume in this year, it's been spread out over the week instead of a series of shorter rides followed by one long ride on the weekend. Compared to last year, the strategy worked, as I had the endurance to hang on to get some decent sprint finishes. There was a time, thanks to a weird work schedule, when I could sneak in two or three long rides a week. Now it's a special event when I can get in over two or three hours.

Saturday was one of those special events.

I rode out to meet him at his house, and we rode to the Eagle River Nature Center. I hadn't ridden out there in a couple years, because of ongoing road construction. Being told by a flagger that you would have to put your bike in the pilot car for the duration of the construction kinda takes the fun out of riding that road, so I just rode elsewhere. It's a shame, because there's a lot of nice, rolling hills back there and little traffic- althou…

Cold Snap

I was excited about last Tuesday's crit. After being prevented from racing there all summer because of paving projects and eagle nests, we could finally ride around in circles on my favorite crit course. It has just enough hill to make it selective and enough technical turns to make it interesting- without making it a crash-fest. In fact, to my knowledge we've only had one wreck there, and that was a touch of wheels in a straight section. For a crit course, that's a pretty impressive record.

After a few days of rain, it finally looked like we would dodge a bullet. The roads were drying out, and blue skies were peaking through the clouds. A couple short showers fell, but everything was lining up.

The night's plan was to run two races. The first was for the lower male categories and Christina Grande, who's another one of the people who make cycling so awesome. Christina works for Dark Lord of the Sith Bill Fleming at the Trek Store. Bill just returned from Europe, wher…

Sad

Recently a judge accepted a plea deal. A drunk and stoned young woman backed over a local cyclist, then drove away while he died without rendering aid in any way. This is not in dispute by anyone, on any side of the courtroom. She received 1 year and 10 days in jail.

I've tried to wrap my head around this from any number of directions, and it just makes me sad. Not for her. As far as I'm concerned, she has no place in society anymore. This is not her tragedy, as much as the defense tried to paint it that way while deflecting blame to the victim. I've harbored evil fantasies of vengeance that I'm not at all ashamed of. So much ink has been thrown out there about this that I'll just include a couple links to provide a more complete picture for those of you who haven't followed the story:

http://www.adn.com/article/20150812/prosecutor-teen-used-drugs-alcohol-hit-and-run-collision-killed-cyclist

http://www.adn.com/article/20150819/anchorage-teen-receives-1-year-senten…

Frrrp

Frrrrrrrrrrrrrrrppppppppppp.

I stopped to readjust the rubber straps that hold the front fender in place. After yesterday's soaking and subsequent aches and pains, I decided to go a little more prepared this time. Rain jacket, fenders, shoe covers, wool socks, cycling cap... There really isn't a need to be miserable when you're trying to have fun.

I was going to get wet. The ran always finds a way in. However, if it's a gradual process and the clothing is right, it's less of a soaking and more of a squish. Your body heat has a chance to warm the water into something approaching tolerable.

Eventually my brain and my legs reached an accord as to the proper amount of effort that this day required. It was a contentious debate, as my head was convinced I should push it, while my legs maintained that today should be dedicated to long, slow distance. My stomach, which wasn't invited to the summit, was out in the parking lot demanding to be heard. Something about only hav…

I Might Be Getting Soft

Saturday I spent the morning sitting on a couple promotion boards, wearing my dress uniform (that I break out once a year at most), and generally being uncomfortable. Once sprung from the responsibility of appearing somewhat professional, the first thing I wanted to do was dispel that perception by donning lycra.

I called Pete to see if he was interested in doing anything, and as it turned out he had just started riding. He mentioned being rained on, but I managed to ignore that comment. It's been primarily warm and sunny this summer, which is rare for southcentral Alaska. I convinced him to turn around and meet me at work so I could beat up on him and therefore improve my self image. Swell guy that he is, he readily agreed.

A few drops were falling here or there as we set off, with clouds and the promise of rain in all directions. We chose a route with a small amount of climbing and set off at a conversational pace. Here or there I would take a dig on short grades to drop him and p…

Racing From Stoplight to Stoplight

Friday was yet another road bike race on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER), organized by people who have never raced a bicycle. I'm not sure they've ever ridden one on the road either. 

I had serious reservations about the route and voiced them before the race, suggesting an alternate route to bypass the majority of the trouble spots, but they stated the course was approved and was set in stone. The 15.5 mile "race" went through several stoplights on the main thoroughfare on the Elmendorf side of base during lunchtime, then took a more sane route to the turnaround. Then we had to retrace our path back to the start. At least I got them to not have the finish line be the narrow, 90 degree entrance to a parking lot for what would obviously be a sprint finish. Like I said, they weren't experienced race organizers.

We took off at a moderate race pace out of the start to shed the cruisers, and were stopped at the first light. After a brief wait, we took off again, t…

Lovely Lady Lumps

I got my custom order of team cycling kit in from Starlight Apparel. It was a little too late for the Tour of Anchorage, but I wasn't expecting it given when I finalized and paid for my order. Compared to a lot of kit companies, the turnaround was screaming fast.

I sorted the order, marked the ones for teammates, and set the rest aside for myself. Then I started trying on the pieces I ordered. Overall, I'm pretty darn impressed. There were some differences from the Sugoi kit, despite being generated from the same design template.

The colors on the Starlight kit are more vibrant. The orange is less Dreamsicle and more traffic cone, which seems to hold an attraction for me.There were a few minor differences in design here or there that I can chalk up to my inattention during the proofing process, but my wife likes them so I guess it's fortunate that I'm such a screw-up. The kit just pops. We'll see if my teammates agree.

The fit is... um... Euro. Definitely more so that…

They're All Going To Laugh At You

Yesterday's post caused me to reflect on shame.

I have a fairly thick skin. Growing up with an older brother and a bunch of male cousins provided me with a sound foundation in being a rat bastard. Years of working with and around aircraft maintainers honed that into the maladjusted, antisocial, and sarcastic curmudgeon I am today. My central theory on interpersonal skills can be summed up as finding someone's sensitive points and exploiting them for amusement and/or personal advancement. I generally expect everyone to approach me in the same manner, so I've developed countermeasures and defenses to deflect their attacks. When I am not dealt with in this manner or someone takes offense to my approach, I get confused and lash out in unpredictable ways. Sometimes I just drool in the corner or make origami frogs until my fingers bleed. I expect any rational adult would have the same response.

As detailed yesterday, I was embarrassed because I wrecked in a spectacular manner doin…

Head Down and Flying

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I don't know if I should relay this story, but as I am likely a YouTube sensation because of it, I might as well come clean.

The day after the Tour of Anchorage I wasn't scheduled to ride. It was a rest day, which was fortunate because I had spent the night cleaning up after a feverish Exorcist baby. I wasn't motivated to ride after Sunday's wet race of futility. My body was a little beat down and my head was elsewhere.

I rode anyway. A body in motion tends to stay in motion...

Just a short, relatively easy ride after work. I didn't push it. I spun out the legs and thought the thoughts that I think when riding easy, flitting from one subject to another. I'll admit it, I wasn't paying attention. Towards the end of the ride, my head dropped. I wasn't staring at my stem like Chris Froome. I wasn't gassed from some incredible effort. I was being lazy.

I'd spent the last few days looking ahead and protecting my front wheel, riding in constantly shiftin…

Tour of Anchorage 2015- Aftermath II

Now let's hit on some subjects that are a little closer to home for me. Me. ME. MEEEEE...

Masters Men is an interesting story. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone that would say that the strongest riders didn't stand on the podium. The big diesels ruled. However, tactics did affect how the top 5 racked and stacked, especially on the last day. I was on the wrong side of that race, but I recognize and applaud those that saw the opportunity to use their gifts and put the spurs to my lady parts. That's what racing is all about. I took my shots with what I had, but I brought a Super Soaker to a gunfight. This wasn't a sprinter's tour by any means. It never is.

Despite being steadily pushed down the GC rankings by my betters, I enjoyed this edition. The time gaps between the Masters 45+ GC rankings weren't completely obscene, indicating that the field was relatively balanced. When we got to the road stages, people were racing instead of just riding to preserve th…

Tour of Anchorage 2015- Aftermath I

Since I completely trashed this year's edition of the Tour of Fairbanks and pooped on all of the hard work of people I really admire, it's only fair I spread some feces around.

Let me start with the various fields that competed:

Open Men was stacked this year with a lot of very strong riders. A few years ago, 4 or 5 of the same old faces were all that lined up in Open/Expert for the biggest event of the season. The rest sandbagged in lower classes/Masters or just didn't show up. This year, partially due to an infusion of new blood and a strong Fairbanks contingent, the racing was spirited and a lot of fun to watch. My hope is that this trend continues, because it broadened the perception of the type of racer that competes in that class. Not everyone can win the overall. Not everyone can take a stage or even stand on the podium. However, with a larger field the chances for team dynamics affecting the race are increased, so everyone has a chance to take a role in how it was s…

The Boss and the Mailroom Clerk

Joey Bacala tied up the 2015 Tour of Anchorage Sunday. After a near disastrous mechanical on Saturday's road race followed by an impressive team effort to save his GC lead, Joey could have sat in the field and marked the competition during the final stage. That's what I would have done. Joey didn't do that.

Joey rode like a Boss.

After several blue-bird days of racing, it had been raining steadily all morning. The temperature hovered around 60F, which is relatively comfortable for Alaskan riders. Your mileage may vary. The water coming off the tire in front of you ensure hydration wasn't an issue, and as a bonus there might have been some electrolytes mixed in with the dog poo and motor oil.

A little over 15 minutes into the 75 minute + one lap Open Men circuit race, Joey rode off to one side of the pack and then rode away. When nobody reacted, he rode a little more. While the pack alternated between chasing, throwing attacks of their own to try to bridge, and arguing abo…