Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Goodbye Cleveland!

I just accepted a job in Nashville, TN. It's happened fast, and I will be moving even faster. I think there will be a sonic boom as I exit town in the Element. I am planning to be living there by the end of April!

I'll be back to the CLE from time to time, and I think Nashville will be a good early spring training camp site for my Cleveland cycling homies. So even though I am saying goodbye, I am sure I will see all of you again soon and often.

It's been a really great experience to get to know lots of interesting and really good people through our sport.

Best of luck to everyone!

I will be blogging about my cycling experience in Nashville, so stay tuned.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Orwell Roubaix

This year, Jim's Roubaix ride departed from Orwell at the intersection of 322 and Route 45. This year, 25 people showed up to ride. When I pulled into the feed store parking lot, and saw all the bikes getting prepped and people standing around in lycra, I felt a little bit like I was getting ready to race.

The weather was good--really one of the few warm and sunny days we had this spring. There was a pretty steady breeze out of the South, and riding among the fields and scrubby trees of Southern Ashtabula County on the wrecked country roads, it really felt like we could be in Northern France on the cobbles.

The group went at a really good pace on most of the roads, but luckily stopped to regroup several times. I was not in shape to keep up! I haven't really made a single trip into the pain cave so far this season, but I went way down deep a few times during this ride, especially on the long gravel/paved hill that Jim found for the course.

By the last few miles, I was thrashed, and actually just dropped onto the little ring on the flat roads just to keep moving. I think I should have brought quite a bit more food.

This year, many riders opted for a CX bike setup with 'cross tires, or heavy duty road tires, so there were not as many punctures as last year. I rode my 'cross bike and mounted some heavy duty touring tires, and for the first time was able to ride full speed on the rocks without worrying about a puncture or destroying my wheels. I came up short on a bunny hop over a pot hole at full speed and caught the lip squarely with the rear wheel, but didn't even have a problem.

I think the ideal setup would be an old road bike with heavy duty touring tires. My CX bike is a frame size smaller than my road bike, and my position is a little more upright, which ended up being a pretty painful combo by about mile 30.

It was a great experience, and was a good way to get psyched up to watch the pros tackle the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, and to be even more amazed that it's possible for a human body to endure that. Thanks Jim!

Friday, April 8, 2011

flux capacity

I've had a long period of stability in my life--great for training and riding a lot. Now, I am in a transition period, professionally, personally, and maybe geographically--all of it really good--and cycling has dropped down the list of priorities. This spring, I've only got about 100 miles in my legs. I have been keeping my general fitness up by running, and heading to the Y during the evenings, but I haven't been able to get out on the bike as much as I would like.

So, this season, I might not do a whole lot of road racing, but I will be riding, time trialing, and getting out on the road as much as possible.

Monday, February 14, 2011

season kick off

For the past several seasons, Tackle the Tower is my first major test of fitness for the calendar year. I've been chipping a few seconds off at each attempt, and was hoping to do the same this year. My plan was to sprint the first several floors, then settle into suffer mode until the finish.

I discovered that TTT is probably not the greatest event for a fitness test unless you start in the first few positions.

I sprinted the first 6 stories, and immediately caught up to a knot of slower traffic. I slowed to walking pace for several floors before I got clear and settled into my own full tilt pace. So this year, I was a full minute slower than last year, and basically had to throw the result out as a barometer for my fitness.

Even without a good read on my fitness, I think I'm a little off the pace for being prepared for the season, though. I have several hours of cross country skiing under my belt, but not much time in the saddle. I'm guessing this past weekend was probably the last ski weekend of the season, and I'm getting the cyclocross bike ready for duty as my sloppy road riding machine with fenders and heavy tires.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


When I go cross country skiing at Chapin Forest, it's nice to take a break at the overlook, which is at the edge of a sandstone cliff with a view of the Lake plain. On a clear day, you can see downtown Cleveland, which is about 18 miles away.

Today, I saw it with a new perspective. I think "Cleveland" is a little like the idea of the Roman Empire in the dark ages. Rome was a looming presence in the mind of the people even though the Empire was dead for so long it wasn't even dust anymore. In Northeast Ohio, our favorite pastime is to discuss what's wrong with Cleveland and how to fix it--with a bus lane, for example. From now on, I'm going to refuse to talk about Cleveland's problems. Maybe I'm the Northeast Ohio equivalent one of those Italians in the 15th century who woke up to the fact that the idea of Rome, and the Zombie institutions of the Empire were holding Italy, and the rest of Europe back.

Northeast Ohio is a decent place to live. From a cyclist's point of view, it is really pretty great. I thought of a posting on Dave Steiner's blog back in 2009 from this new perspective. The series of races that the folks at Lake Effect started could be more important to the quality of life in Northeast Ohio than Browns stadium, for example. Something like the NEOCX series, or the Westlake training series, or Jim's TT series could be the difference between some young person deciding to move or stay in the area, and maybe that gets them to invite friends to move here because the cycling scene is pretty damn good, then one of them starts a business, yada yada yada. Cycling can be a basis for people here making connections with their fellow cyclists in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Toronto, too.

To stick with the historical analogy, that would make Northeast Ohio cyclists and their friends and family the equivalent of the humanists in the renaissance. Back then, a few people decided to change the world with new ideas, and just went and did it. Today, a few cyclists and their friends and family can just go ahead and transform Northeast Ohio by stringing tape at CX venues, sitting at registration tables, or turning lap cards at Westlake. That's pretty cool.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

brace yourself

Could it really be that easy?

I had knee problems this whole ski season. Last week after only an hour at Chapin, for example, my knee was radiating pain through my entire leg. I had to wait a few minutes in the car before I could drive home. I decided to try a knee brace before making a doctor's appointment.

I ordered one online, but I also just picked up a neoprene brace from the drug store and tried it out yesterday. An hour went by. No pain. So I stayed out another hour. No problem at all.

I'm not sure what the deal is with my knee, so I'm not sure what problem the brace fixed. It either kept it warm, or supported it laterally.

Whatever it is, I'm happy. I enjoy two hours on the skis, but could never do two hours on the trainer.

Friday, January 7, 2011

the mental side of crashing

In the past couple of years, I've had my ass kicked a couple of times. I had a car accident in 2008, then my bike wreck this past spring. In both cases, I got a helicopter ride to MetroHealth.

I bounced back pretty quickly mentally and physically both times. The car wreck involved a few months for the bones to heal and a year and a half to rebuild my atrophied quads. The bike wreck only injured my hands, so the recovery time was relatively quick.

In both cases, my main focus was to get back to riding, and I didn't even think about the mental trauma that I suffered. For example, after the car wreck, I started driving again right away without a worry. And I thought the bike wreck was mainly just annoying. Once I got my hand out of a hard cast, I was back to normal life, aka racing and training.

In retrospect, I just avoided thinking about how those two incidents shook me up since I was so focused on getting past the physical injury part. But after a recent event--the details I'll omit--I'm pretty sure that the trauma I suffered altered my perspective in some inconvenient ways that came back to bite me. Yeah, it's vague, but I don't want to get too personal in my bike blog!

So, the lesson I'd take away from this is it's probably not such a bad idea to try to get a handle on the mental part of recovering from an accident once the physical recovery is done.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year

New Year, time to start thinking about racing season.

The typical Northeast Ohio ski season is well underway. That is, it's over just when it got started. My skiing form was just returning when all the snow melted. I haven't started this year's training log, yet, but I probably managed to do about 10-15 hours of skiing in December.

I've spent a grand total of two hours on the trainer so far this season, and I got out on the road for a frozen hour on Sunday in the 27F weather. It felt pretty good to be out on dry roads and not indoors at the Y or on the trainer. That is, it felt good until the cold really soaked in.

My main goal this winter is to drop some weight. If I manage to chip off 10 pounds by the end of February, I'll treat myself to a new TT bike. Time trials will be a bigger part of my racing season this year.

I hope everyone has a safe, happy, and healthy 2011 and I will see y'all out there soon enough.