Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Colorado rap

The rotton, no-good, stupid snow ruined most of my biking plans but Michaela and I got out on Saturday in Ft. Collins and rode a lap around the city on their most excellent bike path network. Within 24 hours of getting hit with over a foot of snow, the bike paths were cleared, swept, and dry. In fact, the bike paths were in better shape than the roadways. Give it up for the FC! It was still cold and very windy, but a ride's a ride, right?

Did the requisite brewery tours too and drank lots of local brew.

Scoped out a great ride on the way back out of the mountains as we were driving home. I'll be riding the Central City-Nederland-Estes route wence I return.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rocky Mountain Low

Whaaa Whaa Whaa Whaaaaa...

30+ mph winds and heavy snow. White-out conditions. Starring out the window of my hotel room feeling like the kids in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. I wish that cat would come around right now.

Guess I'll open a beer and get on the trainer.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rocky Mountain High

I’m headed to colorful Colorado tomorrow for some high-intensity altitude training. Not really, but I do hope to get a couple of nice rides in. I’ll be based in Golden, so if anyone has any route suggestions, please let me know.

I’ve never ridden a bike above 6800 feet- previously I rode up to the base of Harney Peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota- so I’m a little nervous as to how I’ll react to the thin air. I usually puke right at 9981 ft., so it should be interesting.

Over the weekend, Michaela and I will be hanging around Fort Collins. Mostly b/c there’s lots of good beer there, but we’ll be on the lookout for some good rides in that area too.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Double up at the Dam

The the 3rd and final Dam Race was this weekend and I finished out my Cat 5 "career" in brilliant form bringing home another victory. That gives me the series crown for the race.

With the C.5 series captured for Colavita/Parisi, I was looking ahead to the 4 and 3 races where Brad W. and Britton K. were in contention. I was feeling O.K. after a little rest and a frosty carb-loaded beverage, so I convinced the USCF rep to cat me up on the spot so I could help Brad out. I figured I'd do what I could as long as my legs held up and then fall off the back if that's what it came to. As it turns out, I felt great and stayed at the front with Matt and John for nearly the whole race. There was never a moment when Colavita/Parisi was not leading this race except for the short-lived 2-rider strong Velotek attack, which I swiftly chased down.

Matt put in the big turns initially and John and I helped him as much as we could in the final couple of laps. At one point all three of us were on the front ala Damage Inc. On the final lap Matt got out the big stick and I think he and Brad rode off half the field before we even got to the hill! I stayed close but I didn't have anything left in the legs after 11 trips up the hill and I had to watch several riders go around me. I got a few places back near the top but just missed out on top ten, landing on 11.

Still, a Cat 5 1st and a Cat 4 11th in back-to-back races isn't a bad days work I suppose.

Congrats to Britton on earning the Cat 3 crown and to Brad who earned the Cat 4 crown even though he wasn't awarded it. And to Jane for another 1st Place and the series win for the Women. Team Colavita/Parisi Coffee definately put our stamp on the Dam.
Photo credit: ROGER

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dam Race 2: Victory for Colavita/Parisi!

The 2nd of the 3 Dam Road Races went well for me. Not only did I collect a win for Team Colavita/Parisi Coffee, but I also got the maximum bonus points for topping the hill first on the first lap. So, with Matt not finishing the series in Cat 5, that puts me in the driver’s seat for the overall series win. I’d like to see Matt race one last time in C.5, but I feel like I helped convince him to cat up on Sunday so he could get into a race (he missed the C.5 start time) and now I don’t feel like I should talk him into coming back to 5’s. The guy is where he belongs anyway, and I’ll join him after this weekend. That’s going to bolster our team’s C.4 squad but it’s going to leave a hole in the C.5. Hopefully Joe, Steve, and Eric will take the reigns- more about Eric in a second…

The race started quite mellow and we were all rolling across the dam starting to get warmed up when I heard a yelp and then the chilling sounds of bike and body hitting the ground. Luckily it happened two bikes behind me and only one rider went down. The group slowed a bit for a minute or so and then we were on our way again. I did a great job of staying near the front without putting my nose in the wind for the entire first lap until we got to the hill. With points up for grabs, I moved to the front and set a high pace while remaining comfortable. It was enough to thin the front down to about a half dozen riders. Halfway up the climb, just past Roger’s little carnival, a couple riders moved around me. I got on their wheel and followed them just long enough to collect myself and then I launched around their right side. Nobody reacted soon enough to stay with me and I was able to sit back down and motor acorss the line in first.

Except for another crash on lap 2 or 3, which I heard about later, the middle part of the race was mostly uneventful.

Coming up to the final climb, I was in about 8th wheel. I thought I was in a good spot coming around the corner heading into the climb but somehow I got boxed in with three riders side-by-side in front of me and a couple more on my left. I knew the Bike Shack and Monster/CRRT riders directly in front of me were the riders to watch so I stayed pinned directly behind them and didn’t panic. We rode most of the climb in this way and I started to get nervous when I saw the brown park sign. Just then, the Bike Shack rider verred to the right just enough to make room for me to squeeze between him and the Monster/CRRT. I powered between them and as soon as my bars were clear of theirs, I stood up and went for it. They followed me but I rode away for the victory!

As good as the victory felt, I got even more amped up watching Eric Stull sprint for 3rd in the B race. He and another rider threw down coming up the final climb and Eric came out on top. Eric had initially surged ahead but the other rider came back and nosed in front of him. I was screaming at Eric as they approached the line and somehow he found just enough something from somewhere to get back in front. It was awesome!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Me new race bikey

I know- It’s not the bike, it’s the rider. Still, it’s a lot more fun to talk about the horse than the jockey. The bike is a bit eclectic. Yes, those are brand new Zipp 303s and yes, that is a very inexpensive steel frame. But inexpensive doesn’t equate to cheap, at least not in this case. Main tubes on the Smoothie are heat-treated and butted Tange Prestige and the stays are butted CrMo. The welds are good and everything is straight. Soma calls the color Pearl White but it’s more sparkly than pearly- think ‘pixilated pearl’. Regardless, it’s a beautiful color and I dig the subtle gray lettering that is clear-coated over.

I’m most impressed with the IRD Pegasus carbon fork. It’s the all-carbon flagship offering from IRD and the dimensions are exactly what Soma specs for the Smoothie frame. The frame and fork work together wonderfully with nary a hint of schizophrenia between the two.

So what’s with those Zipps? You’re wondering why a guy who can’t afford a nice hi-tech carbon frame can afford a pair of high-end carbon hoops. The fact is, I can’t afford either. I paid $5 for those wheels. Yes, FIVE BUCKS! I won them in the raffle drawing at the 2007 CX Nats in KC. Someone else walked away with a brand new SRAM Red group, which I would’ve preferred, but I’m not complaining.

The rest of the parts are stuff I had in boxes or hung on other bikes that I’m not using at the moment. It’s mostly 1999/2000 Dura Ace with the exception of the brake calipers which are circa 1987 105 single-pivots and those are getting replaced with new dual-pivots soon.

Overall I’m loving the ride. I’ve only logged about 300 miles on it but from the very first ride I noticed it’s quite forgettable. I mean that as a compliment. It’s an overused expression, but this bike really does disappear underneath me. I’ve found that I rarely think about the bike when I’m riding it. My only complaint is that it’s a bit more on the slow side of neutral than I prefer. I notice that, at high speeds, if I want to make an adjustment to my line, I’ve got to think about moving the bike rather than it just being instinctual. That equates to me having to lean a little more than I’m used to but that’s a slight modification to my riding style I can deal with. Besides everything works together beautifully and I can't complain about a 18.5 pound steel race bike for less than a grand.

A final word on why I chose a steel frame. 1) I love steel. I’m not a luddite, but it’s difficult to argue against the inherent ride quality steel provides- especially for a rider/racer of my caliber. Why do you think most of the carbon frame reviews you read all make comparisons as to how well it matches up to the steel counterpart? 2) Soma is a cool company and they make cool stuff. And 3) It was cheap… and available. Sometimes that’s what you go with and you get lucky. And I did. Wait, are we still talking about my bike here, or my girlfriend?

Special thanks goes to Britton at Volker Bicycles for hooking me up!

See you at the next race.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Dam Race

The first road race of the season is in the books. Cat 5s started at 10:30- waaay too early. That is reason enough to work hard to cat up. It was cold and windy but at least it was from the west and that pushed us across the dam. KU Matt was off the front right away and we left him out there for the better part of the first lap until I put in a small attack just before the first hill climb and got out in front. KU Matt came back to me and passed me before the line and collected the full mountain goat points. I got 2 points for getting second.

The second lap was more of following Matt but on the third lap, I led the front group across the dam and back down below. I found myself in front at the beginning of the last climb to the finish but KU Matt and a CRRT rider went around me and I finished in 3rd.

I was a little dissapointed b/c I felt I hadn't given it full effort at the finish but it's all a learning process at this point.