29 April 2009

I can see daylight & a note to the Hains Point crew

Retweet @ my small hipster friend: hey stupid piece of shit bike dude! I'm happy you fell off your bike because you hurt my feelings. At least your shirt matches your shorts.

Note to the Hains Point guys: I know Wednesday night training laps are important to Sunday results, but please do not run over and/or kill the "little girl" on her blue Trek WSD. Also note that she does not like being called a "little girl." She may be small in stature, but she packs a damn wallop.

In other news, I can finally see the end of the semester. My last term paper is due Monday evening, and I've only got 32 hours of work, a race, and a show to take care of between now and then. If anyone has any insight on what role elections play in enhancing or diminishing the security and development of new African democracies, feel free to let me know all about it. Please limit your comments to 20 pages. Thanks.

What I'm really looking forward to in the next few weeks is a crit omnium in Knoxville, Tn, over Mother's Day weekend. I haven't seen the fambily or those beautiful hills in a while, and it'll be fun to race with a totally different crew to see how MABRA competition stacks up against TBRA. Pretty favorably, I'd imagine. But if anyone is up for a roadie to do three races in two days, I've got a place to stay, a car, and a good feeling about a 1-2 finish. Check out the TomatoHead Omnium if you're interested.

That's all for now... back to solving (or at least acknowledging and dissecting) the world's problems.

Listening to 2 Atoms in a Molecule by Noah and the Whale. They're playing this weekend at the Black Cat (same night as PB&J, dammit). Go see them.

Addendum to the HP reference above, provided by my small hipster friend:

21 April 2009

Carl Dolan and finals week(s)

My brain is going to explode. Undergrad finals week was a lot more fun for two very important reasons: one. it lasted a week; and two. a BIG term paper was ten pages. Not so anymore. My first finals week assignment was due April 7 and my last will be turned in May 4. It's a week much in the same way that Super Week is a week. Or maybe the same way that Super Week is five days long. Whatever. In any case, I'm about 32 pages of solid gold and one actual exam away from freedom. I can already feel the longer hours on the bike and the bigger beers in my weekday hands.

I raced Carl Dolan Cat 4/5 Sunday, but you wouldn't know it from looking at the results posted online. I finished 26th overall/22nd of the Cat 5s. The judges didn't have my bib listed in the preliminary results, and it seems the correction I helped make after the race never made it into the final results. I guess I'll just have to work to upgrade on points now. In any case, I'd talk about how I raced with (and beat) Mayor Fenty, but someone already beat me to the punch. Whatever. He was on my wheel longer than I was on his. I wish I had staffers protecting/riding for me in a Cat 5 race.

Now for all the important lessons I gleaned from the Carl Dolan race, because that's what Cat 5 racing is all about. Big fields on relatively narrow roads mean staying at the front in the narrow bits and being opportunistic in the wide bits are absolutely crucial. Knowing is half the battle.

So the weekend's lessons have come to this: my race strategy for the Bunny Hop Crit May 3. I don't feel like I'm giving too much away because I'm not riding with a team (you people are my team). You'll find me in the front group, then round 22 minutes in, I'm taking off. Feel free to join me. Whatever. I'm going. If you come with me, maybe we'll all podium. If not, maybe I'll get swallowed up by the pack on the last lap. Either way, it's about damn time I make an aggressive move, and I'm sure I'll be full of it (aggression) given the timing vis a vis my finals.

Peace out and enjoy the fact that you only have a full time job and an expensive addiction to deal with. If you've added on that specter of full time studenthood like I have, I wish you the best of luck with finals.

Listening to Keep Your Head by the Ting Tings, an appropriate mantra for the next few weeks.

18 April 2009

Crash bang boom

I'm about to complain.

The day started out on a positive note (the security guard in my garage had jumper cables to start the dead battery in my car), and I got out to Chantilly in enough time to get a quick warmup on the trainer.

I know there are a lot of reasons to stay in the front of the group during a race. The winner stays in the front, riders in front don't get crashed into, breaks come from the front, corners are less contested in the front, and so on. Given that I know all these things, I am an idiot for not staying in the front of the group today at Syn-Fit. I was sitting in at about 20th for the first 8 or so laps (of 18 in the Cat 5 race), and just as I was making a pull towards the front, a break got away. So I helped pull it back with one of the Whole Wheel guys (Whole Wheel dominated lunch, by the way). In all honesty, I didn't do too much work, and I suppose that's what turned a potential gap to the break operation into a reel in the break with the whole damn pack operation. I let myself sit back for a few laps, and that's when the shit went down.

By "the shit," I mean the rider about 8 feet in front of me. I was pretty sure the sad little carbon frame in front of me would pull me down with it, but I managed to squeeze the hell out of my brakes and hop out of my saddle in enough time to step inside the downed bike's front triangle and hop the poor sap on the pavement like a cyclocross barrier. So that's what I get for riding in the middle of the pack.

I foolishly didn't pull out and explore my free lap rule options and worked my ass off to bridge the 8ish second gap back to the group. I tried to work with a couple of guys--another unattached rider and an ABRT guy--to bridge back up, but they only seemed interested in the idea when my nose was in the wind. If I'm pulling 25mph in the front of the paceline, please have the courtesy to do at least 23 when I peel off. That was me complaining. I was making a second or two of progress in the next couple of miles, but at some point--round 3 laps to go--I remembered I'm racing tomorrow too. Slow down, Rich. These legs have other things to do this weekend.

So now I'm refueled, resting my legs, and ready to give it another go tomorrow.

First, I just have to figure out how to cut $40 billion from the defense budget (and use "up to" 15 pages to defend my choices).

Listening to Miike Snow's remix of Vampire Weekend's The Kids Don't Stand a Chance.

15 April 2009

What's a blog? and Tyson's

It has become quite evident in recent weeks that if I want to be a serious MABRA racer, I need a blog. That is not to say that blogging will make my legs stronger, my bike lighter, or my face more generally aerodynamic. What it will do, though, is relieve me of the deadweight incurred by all these damn bicycle stories I lug around with me that are totally lost on my coworkers, roommate, and small hipster friend. So there it is. Welcome.

I started riding a bike in April of last year after an Ayn Rand-inspired epiphany. Instead of becoming more capitalist, I turned into a bike-riding vegetarian. In any case, I rode with a group of Potomac Pedaler guys all last summer, and was convinced to try a 'cross clinic in the end of the summer by one of the DCMTB guys. I raced 'cross through the winter and loved it. Only from racing cross did I realize that I truly love (love) mud. I love mud. So I got bit by the racing bug, and all the sudden, cross season ends. What is a cyclocross racer to do come springtime? Well if Tim Johnson can race on the road, by golly, so can I. So I bought a new whip (Jamis Ventura Race), threw some buttery-fast wheels on it (Neuvation M28 Aero4s), and entered a race.

Holy shit road racing is fun.

My first real road race was at Tyson's a few weeks ago--the Cat 5 of course, and it felt great. I like to set goals for myself that are just a bit out of reach, like being the first African American female democratically-elected shah of Cuba, and the Tyson's race was no exception. In a field of 50, I wanted to place in the top 10. Now, in a previous life, I was used to placing top 3 in 5k running races. The best I did over cross season was 15th at Kelley Acres, a non MABRA series event.

So I saw some video on the you-tubes about how to compete in a crit, and the nice man in the tv screen told me to stay in the front third and go with all the breaks. Staying in the front third I was ok with, but going with all the breaks, not so much.

The Tyson's race was something like 11 laps, and I stayed with the front third for about the first 8. I tried to bridge up to a two rider break right around then, but that damn hill in the final stretch convinced me to sit up and fall back into the pack for the rest of the race. I fell back to the back third of the main group in the next two or so laps, and started to work my way up in the group at the beginning of the last lap. Just after the "large, sweeping downhill" on the back side of the course, I got passed on the inside by an NCVC guy who had a look on his face that said "I'm going to win this fucker," so I jumped on his wheel and followed him up to about 4th place. I hit the gas a little too early on the last hill--round 250m from the line. So I got jumped by a couple of guys and finished 9th. Like whoa, I finished 9th in my first real road race.

So now I'm hooked, and I want to spend next summer living in a van driving to races every weekend all spring and summer. Any takers?

In any case, check out some pictures from Tyson's taken by my brother.

Pre-race breakfast on the trainer

Descente needs to sponsor me immediately.

Coming up the hill on an early lap

There were so many effing NCVC guys (at their own race)

The sprint for 5th-9th

Listening to Gronlandic Edit by Of Montreal. Thanks to my small hipster friend for that one.