Sunday, July 22, 2007

Daily Commute - Test Run

So I decided a few days ago that I'd like to start commuting to work a few days of the week on the bike. Several decisions had to be made:

1. Which bike?
2. Which route?
3. Can I go all day without a shower?
4. Bike parking?

Initial Answers:
1. Rebuilt my Fuji Newest thinking that would be a good choice for a commuter. I picked up some 700x28 Conti Gator Skins for the extra durability and flat prevention.
2. From my home in Chesapeake, I can take Bainbridge all the way to the Berkley Bridge and be downtown. Straight shot if you're in a car and don't have to have 18-wheelers on your tail trying to squeeze by you on a no-shoulder two lane road. So I managed to find some nice neighborhood streets in S. Norfolk that will take me off of Bainbridge but still need to be on it for 1.5 miles around the industrial area. The total route from my house to the financial district in downtown is 10 miles.
3. Luckily (for my office mates), there's a Y in Dominion Towers across the street that I can use. Otherwise it's an unscented baby wipes bath in the morning.
4. My building has a card key garage under the building and two rows of bike racks (unused except for 2 other commuters - how sad). Security cameras and guards - it's a bank ya know.

I took a few days and drove the planned commute route and made these observations. The crater sized potholes on Bainbridge will swallow a BMX bike. The gravel and debris around the industrial area is scattered on the non-shouldered road.

This changes answer #1. Switch from the road bike to the cross bike. I ordered some Schwable Marathon Plus tires in 32. These are the rave for commuters. No flats due to its design. The tradeoff is the weight penalty - 800+ grams per tire. Once I get rolling, I may not be able to stop and the climb on the bridge will be a good workout. That maybe overkill and may opt for the cheapo Performance city slicks and some Mr. Tuffy liners.

Now to the test run. I asked Mike D if he wanted to ride to Norfolk sunday morning. My legs were a bit tired from the 60-mile Chesapeake Road Race on Saturday morning. (OK, it wasn't exactly an official USCF race and was worth no BAR points but it still felt like a race as we had fun with attacks, counter attacks and people dropping like flies). We headed out at 730 on our cross bikes and did the route. No surprises except the lack of cars. We could have claimed a lane on Bainbridge the entire distance to the Berkley Bridge but stuck to the planned route. We made it to my office in about 35 minutes with a slight headwind. Headed over to Starbucks for a triple soy latte and a scone.
Headed back home the same route with the aid of a nice tailwind and cut the time by 5 minutes. There was a little more traffic but still not rush hour type traffic.

So now I'm waiting for my Timbuk2 Laptop Messenger bag to arrive since I have to lug around my "work leash" Dell all the time. If I'm going to ride a bike in the city, I may as well look the part (sans the fixie part and the rolled up pant legs). I should have my bag this week.

I'll post after my first commute.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Request to change category from Cat 5 to Cat 4
Status: Closed and Approved
Date Closed: 07-20-07

Monday, July 16, 2007

Slow and Scary vs. Fast and Fun

Those were the two CAT 5 races this weekend - Slow and Scary vs. Fast and Fun. P-town (read previous post) was a C pace ride compared to the Peake on Sunday. I sat in and barely worked on Saturday's race. I sat back waiting for a strong wheel to go but nothing happened until the final lap. And taking those turns on Saturday with the field in a pack was a scary moment each time around.

On Sunday's race, I didn't get the memo that AJ and Cory would attack on the first lap. I'm glad I clipped in on my first attempt and got a good start as I was 1st wheel of the pack following the 2-man breakaway on the fast and furious first lap. What I didn't realize was that I was pulling for about 10 other riders who sped by me as I gave up my pull and they bridged the gap of the first 2 riders. You're welcome guys. I tried to grab onto Fireman John's wheel but couldn't hold it and I got stuck in no man's land. As riders were falling OTB of the lead group, we managed to get a good 6-man group going including Jimmy P, Martin and Matt (I think) from Fat Frogs, a Casey guy and a guy in a Crawford skinsuit. Some folks worked harder (Martin) than others (skinsuit) but we managed to keep a consistent and fast pace. Taking those turns at 25-28 in a single file was fun. Sure beats the mayhem on the corners the day before.

The lead group stayed away as our pack was working hard to keep it fast so none of the lapped riders (and there were many) wouldn't get a free ride. We kept it up until the bell lap. Around the final turn I was sitting 4th wheel in our 6 pack in a good position for the sprint. I managed to get 2nd in what I thought was the pack sprint. I was calculating that would have put me at 10th. I cooled down for a few laps and found the family. We hung out with the rest of the team for awhile as the next race started.

(caution: whine begins here)
During the P/1/2/3 race, I went over to the scorer's table to see the official results. To my surprise, I posted a 15th. I saw at least 4 riders ahead of me that were lapped riders but were scored in the first group. I talked to 2 of the riders that were lapped and said they and one or two others latched on to the lead group before the last turn and sprinted to the line with them. Fireman John, who finished in the lead group, told me the samething that a few guys latched on during the final lap. Since the results were 'official' already the protest time was over. Oh well, atleast I know where I finished but the results won't show that. Sure wish we had the chip timing for Sunday's race too. That's the second time this year where the results were not right for my races. The Norfolk Classic had me finishing 29 when lapped riders got a top 20.
My wife took a few shots and showed 8 guys in the lead pack and our pack had 6 going into the last few laps.
(end of whine)

I'm happy with my results this weekend (2 top 10's). Sure beats my results last year at this venue when I was quickly OTB and was one of those lapped riders in my 2nd race ever.
The Ironman award goes out to Jimmy P. Jimmy took 5th the previous day at P-town. On Sunday morning he did a sprint Tri up in Colonial Beach. He took 4th overall (out of over 400) and probably 1st in his age group. He shows up in Chesapeake 30 minutes before race time and manages a top 15 (by my results). He must have been hurting because that's the first time I ever beat him in a crit as he usually gets a top 5 in most of his races.
That's it for racing for awhile. If my upgrade comes in anytime soon (what are you waiting for Randy), there are some guys heading to NC for a CAT4 road race in 2 weeks. The PLT TT #2 is at the end of the month. Then we're back here in Chesapeake for the Chesapeake Crit. It's so nice having so many races right in your own zip code.

Cross season is right around the corner. I can't wait.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Tour de P-Town

Hung out in P-town to ride around the 1 mile course through beautiful historic Olde Town. Home of the Commodore Theatre. The only theatre I'd go since they don't allow cell phones and it's a dinner theatre so you don't have someone kicking your seat. But that still doesn't stop someone talking back at the screen.
OK, back to racing.
Beautiful day for a race - some wind to cool you down but not enough to hide from it. Bands were playing as part of the Todi music fest, smell of funnel cakes and the happy yells of kids playing on the 20' inflatable slide.
Got there early to watch the 30/40+ Masters race. Good thing Randy is taking his time with my upgrade because I would have been shot out the back with this field that was mostly a 1/2/3 race. I only counted a handful of 4's out of 30+ that lined up. This race was won by Dave Fuentes who I think was the guy that lapped the P/1/2/3 field at this event last year.
Onto the CAT 4 race. There was an early break but nothing stuck until about 10 laps left when a break of about 12 took off. Among them were Manimal and Fishsticks, the two young guys on the team. Manimal got a 3rd and Fish picked up a 11th as the break stuck. Steve probably needs another top 3 finish to get enough points for a 3. CAT 5 to a 3 in under 10 races - not bad. Oh yeah, I'm glad Randy is taking his time on my upgrade because that looked like a brutal race too. Alot of guys OTB on this one.
Onto the my race. I found myself the solo AAB rider again with no teammates (c'mon Randy - CAT me up). The race started off nothing to eventful except some guys were tooling around on the front of the field as the lead guy was trying to get someone off his wheel and almost caused a crashed. It was pretty much an indication of things to come for the race. There was one or two attempts on a break but nothing stuck. I told my buddy Jimmy (5th) to keep an 'eye' out for AJ (4th). I told him to stay on his wheel. I told him he'll be easy to find because of his 'eye' tatoos. I also mention to watch out for Cory (BAR points leader). Him and AJ like to try to get away with about 1/4 of race left. They waited until the last lap this race.
There were a couple of sketchy moments especially on the backstrech. I though for sure a guy about 3rd wheel was going down but managed to save it. It looked like he over-corrected because nobody touched him. That would have been ugly because we were all bunched up at this point. The worst part was the final lap where there was a bunch of "woaahs" and "sh*t" being yelled. I had AJ's leaing on my seat at one point and got some elbows on my other hip during the "pave" section. I was waiting to hear that metal on pavement at anytime. Fireman John told me that someone (lime green 'dale) almost knocked him over.
I was out of position on the final turn at about 14th wheel and managed to pass a few riders to pick up a 9-spot. One spot out of the trophies.
Once again there was some confusion at the end of the race. The race announcer said "Two laps" and I moved into a great position sitting at 5th wheel heading into the bell lap. As we went past the start/finish, the announcer says "Two laps". As we passed the first turn, we checked up to make sure we heard him right. Sure enough he gave us another lap or read the board wrong. Anyway, during that check up I lost my nice spot and sat around 14th wheel on the final lap.
The cool part of the race was the chip timing by It provided race results, lap times, and average speed. You can view the race results (unofficial) here.
Tomorrow is another backyard race around the Taj Mahal in Chesapeake. Hope my legs can recover quickly.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Time to CAT Up

"Your license is pended awaiting approval by USA Cycling of a category change."

I better keep these standing because they'll just go down in the 4s.

Your USCF Individual Time Trial Cat 5 Standings
1 Rank in your zip code (23xxx)
12 Rank in your state (VA)
4 Rank in your riding age (40)
17 Rank in 5 year age range (40-44)
26 Rank in 10 year age range (40-49)
95 Overall Rank

Your USCF Criterium Cat 5 Standings
2 Rank in your zip code (23xxx)
16 Rank in your state (VA)
12 Rank in your riding age (40)
46 Rank in 5 year age range (40-44)
69 Rank in 10 year age range (40-49)
221 Overall Rank

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Short Track Racing at the Southside Speedway

Popped up the road to the outskirts of Richmond for the Go Fast Turn Left #2 (was actually the first one since the GFTL #1 was cancelled). Held at the Southside Speedway - dubbed "The Toughest Short Track in the South". It was a good setup to watch the entire race since the track is .33 miles.

This maybe my last 5 race since all my other teammates have CAT'd up and left me solo in this race. I qualified for an upgrade last race but haven't gotten around to submitting my request yet.

Lined up, back row again. Made small talk with Keith from Fat Frogs talking about the Poison/Ratt concert tonight that he's working at the Ampitheatre. Chat consisted of BIG hair and spandex - hopefully that will be in the crowd and NOT on stage.

Officials take roll and do their thing - didn't mention any primes.
We roll out and I'm not where I want to be, inside line about 2/3 back. Like every other CAT 5 race on a speedway, some people do not realize that there are people on the inside on a banked turn and treat the turn like a 90 turn with an apex - ie, start wide and cut in. Within the first 3 laps, I saw (and was almost part of) several close calls. I was behind JB when one of those close calls happened and we both sought safety riding on the outside line. A few laps later, I'm sitting inside again and some idiot dive bombs from the outside into the turn and forces me on the rumble strips. Hitting those mini speed bumps at 25 is not a good feeling.

Just when I finally feel like I'm settling in, I look up at the lap board and it's 10 laps to go. Cory (3 Sports) and AJ (Fat Frogs) take off. I'm sitting about 10 wheels back as I witness nobody from another team is chasing them. Richmond Ciclismo had about 6 guys and they just sat in. 3 Sports and Fat Frogs did a good job of slowing the field down. I got close to the front and decided that with Cory and AJ out there (1st and 2nd in BAR points, respectively), nobody was going to reel them back. I decided it work for the field sprint.

At 3 laps left, the bell sounds - huh? Since we've NEVER had a prime in the 5 races this year, I take off thinking the lap board must be wrong. I'm sitting about 2-4th wheel in the pack as we cross over the line thinking I got a top 5-6 finish. I was about to sit up when everyone keeps the throttle down. Dang - a stupid $10 prime and I wasted energy for that. I'm now mid-pack recovering and the real bell lap rings. The pack stretches and I'm holding the guys wheel in front of me until the 3rd turn where I manage to pass about 3-4 others and held off another at the line. I sit up thinking I at least got a 10-12 place.

Results posted showed that I got a 16th. One spot out of the all crucial 1 BAR point.
I think we averaged about 25-26 and my 'puter said I maxed at 33. The race lasted about 12 minutes.

Changed in my civvies and watch the 4 race. They did 30 laps and it last less than 20 minutes. Big field with several guys getting lapped. One guy should have been pulled as he would jump on the lead guys wheel everytime he would get lapped and then get dropped only to be bunch up the front of the field. 2 laps later, this guy does it again. This time he almost causes a wreck in turn 3 as he failed to move to the outside and sat inside as the pack had to manuever around him. Shawn, Amos and Mike were in the race but not sure how they finished.

Between the races, the track guys hit the course. The 1km TT was fast. An A&F rider decked out in the fashionable A&F skinsuit showed how it's done. He made all the other A racers look slow. In the B race, AJ picked up 2 wins on the track bike. He ended up with 3 W's for the day with the win in the CAT5 race. I kidded him again that this sandbagging has got to stop and to upgrade now.

I think I'm done traveling 2 hours to race 12 minutes. Next time I head up to the Southside Speedway I'll have a track bike so I can get 4-5 races in that day and/or have my upgrade so I can do some 40+ and 4 racing.

Although I love riding and racing, that wasn't the best part of the day.
2nd best part of the day was hitting Pierce's BBQ on the way back. I think my car automatically takes the Lightfoot exit everytime on 64. Shawn and Amos showed too.

The best part of the day - getting home, kissing the wife and bambino and spending some fun afternoon time at the Y's Pool. Oh how life changes - 5 years ago I would never have gone to a pool to hang out with mom's in swim skirts, overweight dads and about 50 screaming kids. Now that tops off a great day.

What a fun day.