Sunday, March 29, 2009

Barry/Roubaix race report

Yesterday I went over to the west side of the state to compete in the Barry/Roubaix road race. While drawing on the name of the famous Paris/Roubaix race, this race was held in Barry County on primarily dirt roads, one of which was little more than a jeep trail. The weather had been calling for a mixture of rain and snow at race time but then changed to not having any precipitation until later in the day. If it had rained the race would have really resembled the notoriously muddy race across the pond.

I had ridden the course a few weeks ago and found that it was no different than the rides we do on our side of the state; in fact the hills were not as large but more numerous. And of course in a race every hill seems to require more effort than a casual ride.

There was close to 30 of us in my group and I was about mid pack at the start but quickly got myself toward the front of the group as we immediately started up the first grade of the day. A few went off the front but I was concerned about just putting in a solid effort for the day and did not take up the chase.

We soon came to the long, uphill jeep trail that caused problems for numerous riders with the sandy stretches and ruts. I was able to pick my way around and through a lot of riders that had started in the waves in front of us but at this point I had no idea who was in my class and what position I was in.

It seemed that for over half of the race I was on my own as there were not many groups forming since we were one of the last waves, so any group I did catch meant that they had started ahead of me and were going slower. With the windy conditions it made soloing a tougher effort.

I finally made the connection with one group that was going about the same pace I was and I was able to sit in for a while before going off the front with about seven miles to go. I passed quite a few riders in the last sections of hills and was surprised to find I had finished 5th. I thought I was much further behind.

I have been struggling with my training over the last 6-8 months due to extreme muscle soreness in my Vastus Medialis, the muscle just above the knee on the inside of the quad. I noticed on Thursday what I perceived to be a flaw in my pedal stroke and after doing some research and talking to some bike fit experts, came to the conclusion that bike setup may be a leading factor in my soreness.

I broke one of the cardinal rules of racing, trying something new in a race that hadn’t been tested. I changed saddle height, pedal width, and adjusted my cleats. I was surprised to find during the race that I had no muscle soreness at all, other than normal race fatigue. After the race my legs actually felt good, just tired. There is still some minor tweaking to be done with fit but overall I am relieved that the issue seems to be resolved.

The next race will probably be in Canada next month. Bring it on, eh?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Christmas in March

The Cannondale team has an annual ritual called Christmas in March, where team members receive their box of sponsors' products and the new team kits. Mine arrived today and the new uniforms look great in person. Unfortunately the bib shorts have yet to arrive and they are coming from Italy. In the mean time we will just be wearing plain black shorts while waiting.

The current economic climate has hit the bike industry as well and a few of last year's sponosrs are no longer sending free product. But the Cannondale kit and gloves, Uvex helmet, Smith glasses, Hydrapak products, Bear Naked and GU items are very much appreciated. Not to mention the great deal on team bikes and other sponsors'products.

Hopefully I can get the rest of the items needed to build the new bike and have it ready to ride next week. The weather doesn't look very promising. No one wants to get their new bikes dirty but they are mountain bikes.

Time to start getting ready for the Lake Orion High School races. A little over a month away.
2009 Spring Mtn Bike Flyer
2009 Spring Mountain Bike Entry

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New frame

My new SS frame arrived on Friday and it was the first time I had a chance to see the frame in person. It looks just as good as I had hoped. The frame has some of our sponsor's logos on it as well. We will have some new ones this year although I have not seen a list of who all of them will be. I can't build the complete bike yet since I'm still waiting for the fork. No word on when that will arrive.

I managed to get some trail work done up at Lake Orion High School in preparation for the spring race series in May. The trails were fairly dry in most spots but I blew the leaves off to help define them and to help them dry faster. I also redid one section to make it a smoother flow. The school was able to find me a few pieces of culvert so I dug on of them into place where the runoff is flowing almost all year.

I had softball practice again on Saturday morning and we still had a small turnout. They are going to have to do a better job recruiting players if we even want to have the minimum necessary to start a game.

We had the Cannondale Midwest Racing team meeting on Saturday evening at the Scurr's. It's always nice to kick off the season with the team get together and meet the new members. I led a team ride in the afternoon prior to the meeting.

Next Saturday is the Barry/Roubaix race over near Grand Rapids. It looks like they are getting a good signup but I haven't made the commitment yet. The weather looks like it may be wet and cold. Actually that is often the kind of weather that the Paris/Roubaix has; the race that the Barry/Roubaix race is modeled after. I'll probably go anyway, it's time to get the race season underway.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Weekend of firsts

I had a couple of firsts for the new year this weekend. I was invited by my son to play softball with a bunch of people he works with so we were out at 8:30 Saturday morning in the 25 degree temperatures practicing. With the sun shining it actually didn't feel too bad. But is was the first time I've played in a couple of years. Even then it was a sporadic thing. I used to play a lot but that was 25 years ago. I don't know when the games will be but this team is just in it for the fun. This will be a new experience for me as well.

On yesterday's ride past one of the farms there was a cow standing on the outside of the fence near a gate looking in at his buddies. I don't remember seeing a loose cow before. I stopped in at the farm to let them know so they could make sure the cow was safe.

On the same ride I had my first dog chase of the year. It was on a road I've ridden many times and never saw this dog before. Then for good measure I got chased two other times on the ride,once by two dogs at the same time. I hope I got my dog chases out of the way early. It's can be hard to outrun them when you are riding a singlespeed but you do get your hear rate up.

Today I got my first ride on an actual trail that was solid dirt. I had gone over to the west side of the state to preride a back road race I might be doing in a few weeks. It was just around the corner from a trail that is usually considered one of the first in the state to be ready to ride come spring. I did a lap of the road course and then drove over to the parking lot for the trail and found that the trail was generally ready to ride. So I switched bikes and did a loop of the trail. There were a lot of people out enjoying the nice day, both on foot and on bikes.

All in all the warmer weather and sunshine made for a great weekend of riding.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sneak Peek

Not much has been posted on the new Cannondale Factory Racing bikes or kits but I gave a little hint a few weeks ago when I talked about going green. We had seen a few shots of the new Scalpel but were not supposed to reveal anything yet. But people in Europe have been seeing the new bikes and kits on the pros and posting pictures on the Internet so I thought I would share a few of them.

The new bikes and kits look great, I can't wait to see them in person. I won't write about what bike or bikes I may be building up but they will have the same graphics as the one in the picture. I don't know how much green anodizing will be used other than the fork clamps.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Madama Butterfly

Sandy and I spent a great rainy afternoon at the opera. It was Metropolitan Opera Live in HD, a series of live telecasts to movie theaters. I had seen advertisements for previous shows but I thought the tickets were kind of expensive for watching it in a movie theater. To my surprise a few weeks ago there was coupon in the mail for a buy one, get one free offer. And the theater showing it was just up the street in Oxford.

We were looking forward to this event ever since I picked up the tickets. We both are fans of all sorts of music, including classical and opera. Anyone who has travelled with me for any extended distance knows that my musical taste can be somewhat eclectic. But opera is best experienced while viewing it, especially if it is live. It is much more of an emotional experience than just listening to a soundtrack.

Sandy was an usher at the Detroit Opera House a few years ago but I have only been to a few in person. The theater version was better than having the best seats at the Met since many different camera angles were used, including closeups of the performers. In between acts Rene Fleming conducted interviews with the stars and other members of the cast. The back stage views were very informative. The sound was also first rate and the subtitles made the opera a lot easier to follow. I have to say the seats were a lot more comfortable than at the opera house and I don't recall anyone taking popcorn to a live performance either.

The entire experience was well worth it and we may buy tickets to one or two of the operas remaining to be telecast. They previewed next year's schedule and there were quite a few that would be great to see on the big screen.

After the show we stopped by a new barbecue place in town that opened a few weeks ago and got dinner to go. The barbecue was good and there was enough left over to provide lunch for tomorrow.

I didn't ride outside today but ended up on the trainer due to the rain. Tomorrow may be more of the same but with daylight savings time starting at least we will have longer to ride after work if the weather permits.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Sunburn instead of frostbite

It was almost 70 and sunny this afternoon and I took advantage of it to get in a 3.5 hour ride in shorts and short sleeves. It felt great to not have all those extra layers on although the muddy water in some sections of the roads was pretty cold. Most of the snow banks have melted now but some of the roads were wetter than earlier in the week. I think it may have been due to the ice on the roads finally melting as well.

This weekend looks like rain so I may end up back on the trainer. But I'm grateful for at least one warm day so far. Hopefully more won't be too far behind.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Lamb or Lion?

When talking about the month of March there is a reference as to whether or not the month comes and goes like a lion or a lamb. After riding this morning I would say it was more like the former, or at least a wolf in lamb's clothing.

The temperatures were in the low teens with negative wind chills but the sun was shining and the roads were either dry or at least frozen. From the warmth of the house it looked like a great day to ride.

Once out on the bike it seemed a lot colder than yesterday. The wind was biting and making progress slow when riding into it. I probably rode in colder temperatures this winter but at last then there was snow on the ground so you would expect the frigid air. I think I'm ready for some warmer weather. Although once it get into the muddy season I may miss the frozen roads.

Out west, Jason's school's girls basketball team made it to the state playoff for the first time ever. Jason is the Athletic Director for the school so the family was in Yakima this week to watch the girls play. They won their first two games but then lost the next two which earned them 6th place in the state. It was still a remarkable achievement for such a small school.

I've started putting some bike items on eBay in preparation of the new racing season and to be able to take advantage of team purchases at a great price. We weren't supposed to release any pictures of the new bikes or uniforms (kits) but some were posted on yesterday from over in Europe. It was my first look at the kits as well. I'll probably post the pictures tomorrow.