Monday, March 9, 2009

Bike commits Seppuku - Greenville Weekend 3

(Yes, this is the first post in some time, but I will try to keep it updated as the adventure season gets into full swing.)
So I was hoping that this weekend would go better than the previous 2 weekends (21st and 16th). But it was not to be. The course on Saturday was amazing and I was feeling better with every lap. I made it about half way through the road race before disaster struck. My chain skipped and then dropped and swung into my wheel, got caught in my spokes, and sucked my rear derailluer into the wheel causing the lower jockey wheel to get ejected, the cage to get mangled, and the carbon link plate to snap in half. It also snapped the hanger and a spoke (and cracked another). I had just gotten the drivetrain in for my new team bike on Thursday and was gonna build it tomorrow. But my bike did not like the idea of being it did the honorable thing and commited ritual suicide. However, being the evil doctor that I am, I frankensteined a single speed for the 80-90 min ride back to Boyd's house in Greenville. I removed the cable and cut the chain so that it was nice and tight in tht 39-19. It was ok for a casual post race ride for the most part though I spun out at about 21mph. I knew that wouldn't do for the crit on Sunday so I asked anyone I could find if they had a bike I could borrow for the race. But no one wanted to let me borrow one. (Someone must have leaked the info that a day of Shawn riding a bike is about as much wear and tear as a normal human puts on a bike in about a year.) Then I tried to get a refund since my bike was busted., but I was refused. So I went to the backup plan: I put some links back in the chain and singlespeeded it in the 53-15 this time (which I figured would be ok for race pace). There was a slight problem though: the chain was a bit to loose. Of course my solution was to drop the front derailluer onto the big chainring to create a chain tensioner / guide. It worked.....but it made my bike sound like a small prop plane. However, just in case I had a catastrophic failure, I stayed at the back of the field, which is a major problem when people start to pop. I kept going around people as they got dropped, but shortly after the midpoint of the race, a large gap opened up about 10 riders in front of me and the people in front of me sat up. I tried to go across but I stalled and couldn't turn the gear over fast enough in the wind. But I kept my little prop plane going as fast I could make it and ended up not getting lapped by the field until 2 to go which on a .75-1 mi track, I chalked up as a non-failure. And now my legs are uber sore from grinding into the headwind down the entire back straight at a cadence of around 40 or 50 for the latter portion of the race.

And all this happened because I said, "oh, I can make it another week or so on these parts." The chain was so worn that it only fully engaged between 5 and 7 teeth on the big chainring; the rest of the teeth would have the chain sitting up above the groove. Of course this is what made it skip a lot. But alas! all is not lost. Because I shall have my new bike built up tommorrow. Hopefully, I will post pics soon.

Oh and I was pretty happy about 2 other things on my adventure this weekend:
1. i was not harrassed by law enforcement while camping at the SC welcome center.
2. I found free wifi, possibly eminating from a giant peach near the NC/SC border.

See ya soon,

Friday, August 1, 2008

Today I woke to the rain of blood...

I've been mostly away from internet while on the road, so this one is dated July 19th....

Instead of writing about the Mt. Holly Grand Prix with a side note about my accidents, I will tell you about my accidents with a side note about the race.

So it all started yesterday morning, I figured I'd just take the train/subway into work and then just ride back from work and tack on some leg openers to get ready for the race the next day. Taking the train still means riding 25 blocks through downtown Philly to the PATCO station. (I have no idea what PATCO stands for.) I was about 3 blocks from the station and I started up from a stop light. While standing up getting the bike up to speed and turning I skipped the chain. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but on this occasion I happened to be wearing flip-flops with no soles on them. (I ripped the rubberized soles off of them about a year ago because they were starting to come unglued, and I left them where I was sitting at Moe's as a kind of unusual footprint.) So back in my story, my left flip flop slid off of my pedal and straight into the spinning bladed spokes of my front wheel. Luckily the corner of my toenail stopped the spoke from cutting all the way through the tip of my big toe as my leg recoiled from the wheel. I gritted my teeth and grunted and swore a couple of times as I continued my attempt to not miss the train again. The stinging sensation kept getting worse as my flip-flop collected a pool of blood and I tried not to look at it. Once on the train, the bleeding continued as my flip-flop overflowed and left another kind of ffotprint on the train. When I got to work, I dumped Hydrogen Peroxide on it and it fizzed....a lot.
The next day I did the Mt. Holly Grand Prix in the 2/3 field. I felt really strong. Tried to bring the 3 man break back with 3 to go. We ended up catching them at the line, but they still got the top 3 spots. (The race was actually 7 min shorter than it was supposed to be.) I finished 12th (2 spots out of the money). I would have been happy had the course not been built for me.
The real story begins after the race. I was riding back to my car and was making the turn into the parking lot at about 12-15 mph, when I just slid out. An easy turn after a tough race with a bunch of super fast corners. I had no idea what happened. It seemed to happen in slow motion and i just kinda fell over. Weird. But I busted and bruised my hip and rashed up my arm. (which I will find out tomorrow is intensly reactive to sunlight. I jumped up completely and totally embarassed hoping that not many people saw it. Luckily only 2 or 3 people witnessed the disaster. I think I'll stay off the bike tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fitchburg adventures Part 1

Well, since I get things done about as quickly as a koala bear (which I think are awesome) in antarctica, here is what I remember most about our trip to Fitchburg a week and a half after the fact.

Ok, so brace yourself. This is gonna be a long story.

Day One: On Wednesday, July 2nd, Steven Gordon, ACCC Road Conference Champion (known to some as "Steven Gordon Mountain Bike Racer") drove up from Northern Va and we loaded up my car and headed off for Uxbridge, MA where our host family lived. The 5 hr drive ened up being like 6 or 7 due to the thing I hate most about the Northeast: traffic. We came to a stop on the NJ Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, on the Tapanzee Bridge, and on the interstate in CT. But we got there eventually and started to get everything ready on the TT bikes while we waited for the other 3 guys in our group to get back from preriding the RR course and part of the TT course.

The other 3 were all from the NC State crew: Will "Captain Jack" Stoughton, Nic "Reaper" Reeves (both cat 4's), and John "J Crew" Crow (cat 3). Once they arrived we settled in for an early morning.

Day Two: Thursday came bright and early (between 5 and 6am) as it would for the rest of the week. We stopped at Dunkin Donuts on the way to the race to get some breakfast.

We saw this a lot. The D is for delicious. After we got the top fuel, we headed on to the site of the first stage, a 6.55 mi mostly upill with a super fast rolling final 2k. The cat 4's were early in the morning and the cat 2's were in the mid afternoon, so we were gonna be there all day.

We exploded the car and set up camp.

Note the pirate flag. Everyone was excited to get the race under way...especially me. I was anxious to see how I would stack up to such a strong cat 3 field. I prepared almost religiously for the TT. Got everything setup way in advance and had everything timed out well as far as getting ready goes. It was by far the smoothest pre-race I have ever had.

I had borrowed a disc and tri spoke from NC State teammate JP Long, so my bike was looking super fly, but due to a snafu I was missing a TT helmet. Fortunately, my friend Matt Barston from UMD had a teammate on CL Noonan/ Coast-to-Coast that was a Junior Cyclocross National Champion and part of the legendary Keough family that had already raced and he let me use his helmet.

So, fully decked out with my superhero edition NC State long sleeve skinsuit, I climbed into the start house and prepared for launch. I pushed hard with solid feeling legs (unfortunately not amaxing feeling). I slowly gained ground on my 30 sec man and just before I passed him at about 2 mi in I looked back and saw the guy who started 30 sec back from me closing in on me. I pushed and passed my 30 sec man before I got passed. I let him get several meters in front of me and then paced off of him hoping I could re-pass him once the road leveled out. I did my best and seemed to stay with him on the climbs and the flats but couldn't match his accelerations when he crested the rises. I kept him within sight until the 2km banner where he disappeared despite me flipping the switch on the afterburners. That man ended up besting me by 1:05 and winning the day. My time was only good enough for 25th but the real acheivement was in my improvement from last year: 1 min 9 sec on sub 20 min TT. I was happy..... even though I lost the competition for Steven's infamous changing kilt/greaserag to Steven by 11 sec. J Crew was right there with me finishing only 5 sec back after dropping his chain. At the end of a long day, we returned to our host house and a fantastic meal prepared by the Hirko's (our host family). As soon as we saw the results for the day posted online we went to sleep. I wonder if anyone else dreamed of glory in the next days RR that night?
To be continued.....

Monday, July 14, 2008

A $20 tip?!?!

So can you guess what the highlight of my day was? Yep thats right, some dude gave me a $20 tip for installing a mini-pump on his bike that he had bought from the shop where I work. The owner of the shop also had to call the cops today on an irate customer. It was quite possibly the loudest yelling match I have ever heard while at work. Well, then again, there were some pretty good yelling matches back when I loaded tractor trailer trucks at UPS. lol I also ordered a large amount of items from the nutritional products heading of a distrubutor for the shop. Power bars, shot blocks, gu's, recovery mix, and accelerade with electrolytes turbolytes, powerlytes: more lytes than my body has room for. Yep, you guessed it, I got it Rawberry flavor cuz its made with lightning; real lightning!

Well I have run out of Oxi-Clean for my laundry so I must go to sleep.

Stay fly.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Road of the mullet?

So, I can only venture a guess that the road race I did today was named for a road which was named for a horrendous mullet. The Ronde Van Mullica Road Race as it was dubbed started way to early in the morning (7:30 for the 3's) which meant that I had to get up at 5am which is not fun for me since I tend to sleep til 8:50 normally. I set 4 alarms and woke to the 2nd one, pretty good for me since I didn't realize that all my state kits suitable for a RR were dirty until about midnight the night before and thus got 4.5 hrs of sleep and hanging my clothes up to dry. Anywayz, the field siz was about 32 which meant a very tough race (cuz it was small enough that I could make them all hurt. LOL). I mentally noted a rider that I have noticed as fairly strong in the last couple of races. The course was a ten mi loop on a fairly flat loop with a rolling to uphill last 4 mi and the rest was pretty fast. Things got started pretty early. About 4 mi in, several attacks and bridges joined up to form an ill-fated group of about 9 riders. which was caught at the very end of the 1st lap. then about 3 mi later the rider I was watching attacked with a rider that I recognized from the super fast group ride in Philly. I thought to myself, "Dang son, that's some horsepower. You should be up there." I listened to my inner voice and moved toward the front and prepared to catch the next train to pain town. Sure enough, within two mins a rider attacked and I jumped on his wheel. A group of 5 broke away and bridged up to the 2 riders. Now 7 strong (or 5 strong and 2 weak as I would put it), we pushed the pace and had a minute gap by the end of the 2nd lap. Then one guy started to sit on. but he had a large team in the field so we let him be. We got a 1:30 gap by the end of the 3rd lap and then dropped our 7th rider. The gap was up to 1:40 by the end of the 4th lap where we dropped our 6th rider that had been sitting on. We hit the gas and grew our lead to 2:55 by mile 46. Then in the last 4 miles everyone just kinda stared at each other, while I stupidly kept pace after looking back, seeing the field, and incorrectly beleiving them to be quite near. Needless to say I was the last of the 5 to cross the line, but I was in the money($40), got 3 more upgrade points (now have 19 of 25), and learned a valuable lesson: If your strength is not sprinting, you should not wait for the sprint. And I need to work on unleashing my inner werewolf aggression at the proper times.
Then I had to go to work where I was given a RedBull and another mechanic got a $12 tip. Hooray!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Where did that dryer sheet come from?

Have you ever wondered if some dryers have automatic dryer sheet dispensers in them? I often wonder if the incredibly old dryers I sometimes use could have such state of the art technology. I don't think I have ever used a dryer sheet. In fact, I don't think I really know exactly what one does. But quite often, I somehow find them amongst my clothes when I take them out of the dryer. Perhaps the dryer sheet fairy left them for me.....


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

You'll Never Take Me Alive

So I am trying to decide whether to start this whole blog deal with an intro kinda thing or with the new stories from this weekend (the Fitchburg race report). Let's try the intro...

Well, for starters, I'm originally from Jacksonville, NC. Lived there for my junior years, then went to NC State in Raleigh, NC where I attempted to be the worst college student possible. When that didn't work I conformed and graduated......6 years after I started. I am now in Philadelphia for the summer, refusing to start life in the real world. Currently I am working 20-25 hrs a week in a bike shop in Suburbia Hell, NJ while riding my bike and racing as much as possible. I am subletting a room in the 10-bedroom UPenn Swing Dancing Troupe house. I bet this place gets absolutely wild during the school year (just guessing from the amount of empty alcohol and wine bottles on display downstairs). I found new things up here that I enjoy like soft pretzels and riding recklessly through Philly traffic, but I miss the NC State Cycling Team something fierce (not to mention double pacelines that have less than a 10mph difference between the speeds of the two lane). This summer I have temporarily put the ongoing quest to become more uber badass on hold, while I search for adventure, random oddities, and possibly candy mountain.

I will leave you with a video that both inspires and perplexes me:

Stay tuned....