A Good Ride Partner (Leader)

18 Aug

It’s been way too long since I’ve written an entry here. Readers will forgive me as I’ve transitioned from bike racer to enthusiast with coaching and counseling credentials. Life has a way of carrying us along its river in no particular fashion. Sometimes the waters are muddied, sometimes the current is swift, rumbling and tumbling us over boulders and fallen trees, jerking us from one peculiar station to the next along life’s intended path. Through it all, the bulk of this audience maintains the best of intentions to ride their bikes as much as possible and as fast as their time commitments will allow. Some seasons, that means riding at the front of the fast group and jamming up hills or attacking the cross winds just because we can. Other seasons, that means digging deep into Paul Sherwen’s ‘suitcase of courage’ just to maintain contact with the peloton.

My journey has taken me from the former to the latter where I now dig into my suitcase of, ‘do I really want this or do I want that cold beer after the ride?’ I’ve been humbled by the commitment and tenacity among many of you who battle constant deadlines, family commitments, volunteer commitments, networking socials, shuttling children to and from this practice or that event, and all other manner of responsibility that cuts into the simple pleasure of riding one’s bike. For to feel the wind in our hair or over our bald pates as the case may be, is to be free of all life’s worries and contemplate nothing more than the warm sun, the heavy and sometimes ragged breath of our cycling brethren, or merely to take in the heavenly scent of lilac or pink rose bushes as we cruise aimlessly for the sheer relief it affords us.

Many of us show up to group rides with personal agendas and most often, those personal agendas are tolerated and accepted among all who attend. However, as we age, our bodies become less forgiving and our minds less tolerant. No one wants to suffer the slings and arrows of carbon splinters spewn by overlapping wheels or the ravages of Father Time’s graying and slowing advances. Instead, we crave more connection, more meaning, and less competition. ‘Tis true, one of the foremost creeds of Team Treachery & Deceit is to do whatever it takes to beat your buddy, but this creed is spoken not only with reverence, but also with tongue firmly planted in cheek. We seek to leave no one behind, be they Peter Sagan or Pee Wee Herrman. (This would be a great place to insert Anthony Barr in his white platform shoes, riding his bicycle, in your mind’s eye).

Over the years it has been a blend of science and art to mesh the individual agendas with the group goal of leaving no one behind. Sometimes vastly differing fitness levels can make this as challenging as Captain Ahab’s quest. (No, they do not call me Ishmael). Thanks to such a cooperative audience, we’ve managed to form a group of like minded, supportive and embracing cyclists. As such, I wanted to elaborate on an email from last March.

Seems the weather remains bitter into April during these days of global warming. On this particularly cold and blustery Sunday I found myself in the company of Jim Stevens. Jim is a PhD research scientist with Lilly, applying a very analytical and detailed approach to his career such that his success is unparalleled. Through the years, Jim has applied the same analytical and detailed approach to his cycling. And it should be noted, Jim comes from quite an athletic background, having swam collegiately, no small task.

Jim and I had met at Fishback to ride over to the SRE Sunday afternoon ride. The SRE group typically ride back over toward Fishback for some hill sprints, but on this day, the group decided to ride north and then come back south. Jim and I had both ridden a hard ride the previous day, so neither of us were keen to ride the extra miles and THEN ride back to Fishback. As we headed north into a cross wind and the pace steadily increased I felt the burn in my own legs begin to intensify and I noticed Jim begin to fall a little further and then still further back in the pack. After crossing SR 32, I mentioned to Jim that after the previous day’s riding, it might be wise to cut this ride short and head on back to Fishback. Jim readily agreed.

Our ride back to Fishback was cold, windy, and damned unpleasant except for the fact that we had each other’s company. Spring hadn’t sprung yet, leaving us with gray clouds and gray, barren landscapes. You might imagine one of those dreary paintings of an unpainted, wooden barn sagging in the wind with snow on the ground and thin, leafless trees affording no break from said howling wind.

We discussed many topics from training to economy to physics to retirement and even favorite beers (the pace quickened here). Our conversation made the miles more palatable and soon enough, we found our way back to our respective destinations. Later in the day I received an email of thanks from Jim. The Subject Line read, ‘A Good Ride Partner.’ Jim did not have to send that email, but I think it speaks to not only his, but to our entire community’s appreciation for one another. Jim praised my strength as a rider that day as I did much of the towing (and I was happy to do so), but he also thanked me for being the good ride partner, admitting that it would have been a tough ride home without the conversation and company.

My days of being one of the strongest are dwindling and I hope that someday one of you will be the good ride partner, shepherding me back to the salvation of a warm bowl of chili and a cold brew. More importantly however, as the winds of change usher in new leaders, I hope that they will remember to maintain an awareness for all riders, keeping in mind that the small gestures of encouragement or a hand on the hip go a long way in getting riders through the rough patches; be mindful that some folks, particularly the women, have the fitness to keep up but often lack the confidence. Encourage and guide them to the front when necessary and within a ride or two, they often are mid to front of the pack. A ride leader is not just the strongest rider; he or she is also strong enough of mind to know he or she does not have to prove one’s self every single ride. He or she can take a back seat and encourage the development of others for the good of the group. In this way, everyone still gets the workout they were looking for and everyone enjoys that spot of beer just around the next bend of Life’s, sometimes rocky and sometimes calm, river ride.

History of St. Patrick’s Day

17 Mar

A Leprechaun’s Tale

            After enough green beer, anyone can see a leprechaun. The smoke-filled bar was packed with celebrants holding mugs of green beer and wearing shirts or jerseys emblazoned with the logos of their favorite teams. Blue and white clad Colts fans, black and gold waving Boiler Backers, and red and white Hoosier Die-Hards reveled elbow to elbow, yet most, I’m sure, hadn’t a clue what the fuss was really about. All that mattered was that green beer was on tap and the man decked out from head to toe in ND regalia was buying the rounds. Somewhere between the first round and the one I lost count on, I felt a light tap on my right shoulder.

            Glancing over my shoulder, I did not see anyone who appeared to want my attention so I turned mine back to my beer when I heard a sarcastic voice grunt, “Some way to celebrate a Saint, eh?” Turning my head to the right again, I was just about to peer over my shoulder when I caught a glimpse of green movement near my mug. Focusing on the movement through somewhat foggy, bloodshot eyes, I saw before me a leprechaun. Clad in the customary green top hat, white shirt, green vest and jacket, green knickers and white, knee-highs with black boots, the little figure motioned for me to move closer to my mug. With my eyeball nearly pressed to the mug, which must have looked like a giant insect eye from the other side of the bar, I’m sure the bartender began practicing his “no more Pal,” speech. Strangely, as this thought passed through my few remaining sober brain cells, I remained eye to eye with a redheaded and red-bearded leprechaun. Perhaps only one brain cell remained sober. One was enough however, to snap me back from the mug and catch a few amused smiles glancing my way. “Coffee?” bellowed the barkeep.

            Shaking my head no, I heard that little voice again, like something from oompa loompa land or Oz, “Never mind them. It’s not the beer. I’m here, you see me, so let’s get down to business,” the green figure demanded.

            “What business?” I heard myself asking, horrified when I realized I was talking in the direction of my mug, all the while becoming conscious of a growing crowd of listeners. What business have I with a green figment of my inebriated imagination, I wondered?

            Much to my chagrin, the green urchin secured my attention, as well as that of a growing party of sports-loving aficionados. “What is it saying?” came a query from a young blond female ND fan. “Shhhhhhhhhhh,” hushed the boiler backer. The tiny green figment perched itself on top of my mug and proceeded with his sermon.

            “None of you appear to understand the significance of St. Patrick’s Day so I’ve come here this eve to set the record straight. Someone give me a swig and I’ll elaborate,” commanded the leprechaun. I had to admit I knew nothing of the holiday other than that it seems the most honest holiday in that everyone looks forward to it as an excuse to drink beer. Christmas, Easter, Yom Kippur, all these holidays solemnly remind us of our divine origins.

            A thimble-sized mug slid down the bar and after a tiny sip and a clear of his throat, the leprechaun began. “Bon on March 17, around 385 AD, St. Patrick grew up in Britain. When he was 16 he was captured by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. After nearly six years he escaped to France where he began his studies for the Priesthood.”

            A cheese head sporting a Packer sweatshirt interjected, “Legend has it that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. Is that true?”

            “On the contrary,” replied the leprechaun with rolling eyes, adding, “that was actually Barry White who charmed the snakes out o’ Ireland. O’ course he wasn’t Barry White incarnate as he is today, reincarnation and all, ya know? But that was his soul with the big bass voice just like it was depicted on the St. Patrick’s Day special episode of The Simpsons.” Laughter filtered through the crowd.

            “So when did St. Patrick return to Ireland?” asked a lady boiler.

            “In 432 AD Patrick returned to Ireland as a Missionary. He brought Latin Literature and the Roman alphabet, and converted the Irish folks to Christianity. ‘Course this put a damper on us leprechauns because the Irish stopped believin’ in us, but we found ways to occupy their imaginations,” said the leprechaun.

            A new member of the growing crowd, a tall gentleman elegantly dressed in black, queried, “According to legend, inside a small cave on the Isle of Lough Dreg, Patrick instructed local artisans to paint scenes of torment that depicted images of purgatory. Can you confirm this?”

            “Tis true, tis true, Laddy. And I have to say, it looks as though you’ve spent too much time in that cave yourself – get out and get some sun on that pasty white skin of yours.”

            Returning his attention to the ever-expanding crowd, the leprechaun continued, “The frightening images were drawn on the cave to remind those who entered to atone for their sins so they would not end up in purgatory.”

            Crowd enthusiasm mounted and someone blurted out, “How did the shamrock become part of St. Patrick’s Day?”

            The leprechaun responded, “People of the Catholic faith wear green and shamrocks on St. Patrick’s Day because Patrick used the green leaves on the shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity to the Irish.” Grinning ear to ear, the green urchin winked at me and then raised a question of his own, “What’s in your head lad?”

            My last sober brain cell had long since become intoxicated with green beer, the green imaginary figment of my imagination, and the green eyes of the blond ND gal that kept batting at me. Since thinking was no longer possible, I found myself speaking before thinking, or rather, blurting out, “How the hell did you get here? Where did you live? How long have you lived? And why show up in a sports bar of all places?”

            Working the crowd like a carnival barker, the Lilliputian jumped down from my mug, began pacing back and forth across the bar and addressing his crowd. “Around 1900 or so I moved to South Bend.” A cheer from the ND clan nearly knocked the leprechaun off the bar. None the less he continued, “I took up residence on the campus of Notre Dame. You know that “win one for the gipper” speech Knute Rockne gave? Well, I wrote that. Ya see, I came to ol’ Knute in a dream and gave ‘im the words to inspire his young troops to upset the might cadets of Army.”

            “How long were you at Notre Dame?” came a shout from the middle of the crowd. “I left the golden dome in the late 1950s. I decided to move to Boston. They had the Celtics with the shamrocks and all, ya know. So, I kinda made things happen to help those loyal, leprechaun-believin’ people win a bunch o’ championships. Coulda just as easily been Wilt who won so many titles, but we leprechauns bein’ wee folks, like to slay the Goliaths, so to speak.”

            A man in a Lakers jacket asked, “What happened in the 70s when the Celtics only won two championships?”

            “Well, I moved back to ND. Of course ‘twas I who put the lid on UCLA’s basket in the final four minutes when the Irish ended the Bruins’ 88-game winning streak. O’ course I made sure the Irish beat ‘Bama in the Sugar Bowl to win another National Title. And when the Irish football team came out in green jerseys to whip USC; that was me who whispered in Coach Parsegian’s ear to break out the green,” said the leprechaun.

            A gray haired man in a light blue jacket called out, “Where were you in 1981 when Al McGuire screamed ‘Mass is over, mass is over’ after Danny Ainge of BYU drove the length of the court and finger-rolled a shot over Orlando Woolridge to knock the Irish out of the NCAA tourney?”

            Head bowed, the leprechaun softly admitted, “Twas a hard blow for the Catholics, losing to the Mormons like that, but I was back in BeanTown by then. The men in green needed a little magic o’ their own.”

            A woman in a Celtics jacket screamed, “We didn’t need you. We had Larry Bird!”

            A crafty smile creased the little man’s face as he replied, “Now how do ya s’ppose Larry Bird stole that pass from Isaiah Thomas at the end of game 5 in 1987?”

            By this point the crowd had thinned yet one question remained. With a scholarship offer in hand, Ron Hunter approached the leprechaun and asked, “Is it true that every leprechaun hides a treasure of gold at the end of a rainbow?”

            Brushing the scholarship offer aside, the leprechaun chuckled and said, “Coach Hunter, why don’t ya be askin’ the Fightin’ Irish, or perhaps Red Aurbech. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some green beer to attend.

Winter Motivation

18 Feb

Winter’s wrath has been particularly cruel this season, what with snow every week and frigid temperatures more akin to the Arctic. In fact, Indiana recently set the new all time record for most snowfall in a winter, eclipsing the old mark from the 1977-78 winter; the year of the Blizzard of ’78. Perhaps my stubborn ways were formed that winter. I’d just begun a morning paper route the very week of the blizzard. No papers were delivered to the carriers, much less to residents, the morning after the heavy snow. Nonetheless, my family’s phone was ringing off the hook by 6:30 a.m. with customers wanting to know when their paper might arrive. Fast forward back to the present; and we still have a few weeks to go with this winter. Ugh. Perhaps my stubborn ways were formed back then in 1978. Despite this winter weather I have not cancelled one training class.

Nonetheless, folks have found it difficult to attend regular training classes. In fact, due to the unruly winter, some folks have let their fitness slip. Low motivation due to lack of sunlight and no outdoor riding time can play havoc on a mind numbed by nothing but trainer miles. With no end in sight it’s time to bring on some external motivation. Meet Moise Brutus.

On October 11, 2010 Moise was a young man without a care. His life was an open highway full of possibility as he cruised down the road on his motorcycle. But then tragedy struck when he was hit by a motorist. The accident resulted in the loss of both legs and one arm. After multiple surgeries Moise went through an extremely difficult time period in which he was over medicated and became clinically depressed. Yet Moise dug deep, finding that fighting spirit within that has allowed him to overcome his adverse conditions.

As part of his physical therapy program aimed at teaching him to walk again, Moise was placed on a stationary bicycle. Realizing he could turn the pedals with little inhibition, Moise began a quick turn around and decided to buy a used bicycle. Thinking this was a three or four-wheel bicycle, his parents encouraged the purchase. When only two wheels showed up there was some consternation in the Brutus family. Moise asked his parents to chill and give him a chance to find his own independence. To their credit, they did just that.

Competitive by nature, it wasn’t long before Moise began envisioning a racing bicycle. After obtaining a racing bike, Moise began training at the Miami Velodrome and eventually made his way onto the road. It has been a trying road, one made difficult by the extra cost for special clip ins for his prosthetic legs; the need for assistance to mount his bike; and the sometimes difficult task of finding enough money to buy much needed equipment. Yet Moise has diligently persisted in chasing his dream of becoming a paralympic bicycle racer.

I was honored to meet and begin coaching Moise in November of 2013. To Moise, every day is a privilege; an opportunity to test not only one’s body, but also one’s mind against the various challenges we face each day. When it could be easy to give up, Moise chooses to pursue his dream. And along the way, he finds time to share his story of courage and determination with others including special needs children.

Aside from cycling, Moise speaks and guest lectures to audiences ranging from the Aventura Chamber of Commerce, Unversity of Miami, and The Foundation For Government and Accountability ECT. Moise delivers a passionate message that no matter how adverse your situation may be, there is nothing your mind and will power cannot overcome. Moise also attends college and will enroll at Florida A&M in 2014 to pursue an education in Healthcare Administration/Public Health.

Unfortunately, Moise recently suffered another setback as he was the victim of a hit and run accident, rendering his highly specialized racing bicycle useless. Moise did suffer a mild concussion and road rash, but otherwise remains intact. Driven by his paralympic dream and his desire to inspire others, Moise continues diligent core training until such time he can purchase another bike. Thanks to the folks at The Center for Government Accountability, a rally for Moise has been organized with the hopes of raising enough money to help Moise buy that new bike. More information on the rally can be found at the following link, and please consider making a donation to help Moise get back on two wheels.

https://rally.org/MoiseBrutus/c/gP64My3fSAh

In reflecting on Moise’s determination, Winter’s wrath seems much less insurmountable. Next time you consider skipping that trainer workout, contemplate all that Moise goes through every time he prepares to ride his bike.

Winds of Change

24 Jan

With racing completed, indoor training and a new team took up my focus. Through the summer I hosted Monday Night recovery rides featuring cup cakes and/or beers. Although I’d like to think the emphasis on community was the draw, I suspect the sugary sweets and libations had more to do with the success, drawing several new riders to the BIT Community. Thanks to the Monday rides, registrations for the fall and winter jumped by 33%, so I knew I’d have to teach more than I had the previous year. And really, the teaching is why I do this. No matter what you teach, guide, counsel or otherwise lead, it is always a two way street. I embrace new folks because I believe every person who crosses one’s path has something they, too, can teach you. I appreciate the things new folks share with me.

Monday Night Crew

Monday Night Crew

More important than my own gratification however, was the new energy brought to the group by several new members. Stand-bys Dr. Wilkes, Dr. Stevens, Dan Cole and Preston Conrad provided a stable environment and fertile grounds for regular trash talking such that new members were comfortable within the first class. It was a pleasure re-acquainting with Matt Jourdan and getting to know the new folks to this year’s program: Derek Mantyla, Mark Willingham, Richard Breedon, Christy Van Vleet, Elaine Reed, Andy Ording, Blake Fahl, Roger Burrus, Roland Heining, Steve Helms, Brandon Thompson, and Dave Margerum.
From this group Christy Van Vleet emerged as the most improved rider during the fall session. Congrats to Christy and to all the riders in the fall session, as every rider improved their power output from the first time trial in week 1 to the final time trial in week 7 by an average of 8.5%. We look for even more improvement through the 8-week winter training session.

Largest classes ever

Largest classes ever

On the racing side, I was invited to join a new team for 2014. The long-standing MOB Squad folded after 2013 because Team Director, Mario Comacho, no longer had the time to run the club. Being a Fishers, IN based squad and closely aligned with The Heroes Foundation, MOB riders transferred to The Heroes team. Motion Cycling and Fitness has sponsored The Heroes for many years and served MOB riders for several seasons as well. Last year Motion began a U23 Elite development team with much success.
Out of the Mob/Heroes merger and under the Motion Elite umbrella, an elite Masters team was formed. Headlining the new team is Court Maple. Court’s pedigree is known far and wide but a brief recap is in order: After graduating college Court spent a summer racing in Belgium, garnering enough success to receive invitations to join professional development teams. But Court was eager to get on with his life and career, so he came home and chose to focus on family and a career. A successful husband, father, businessman and racer for 20 years now, Court had a super season in 2013, winning several races including Ft. Wayne, Indy Crit. and the Mass. Ave. Criterium. It will be an honor racing with Court.
Other new teammates include the newly-turned-masters-aged Chris Richter, owner of Motion Cycling and Fitness; Don Birch, the long time director of The Heroes team, and Harry Clark, winner of over 100 races in his stellar career. Complimenting the group are Bloomington riders Karim Abdelkader, winner of ABR Masters 40+ National Championship Criterium in 2013, Tom Cox and Hans Ibold. Rounding out the squad will be Vic Emond, Ryan Tragesser, Alan Standley, Scott Perry, Michael Langon and Randy Coddington. Old guys (50+) Jim Creamer, Rob Norwalk, Damian Maggos and myself will use our canes and walkers to tame the geriatric crowd. We look good on paper however, lycra may be another matter. Here’s to a successful and fun 2014.

From Jaws to Moby Dick

23 Jan
This can happen when you don't heed the signs

This can happen when you don’t heed the signs

They call me Ishmael. Well, not really, but months have passed since this shark-obsessed racer last facetiously discoursed on ocean monsters and other such metaphor. As 2013 came and went, winds of change swirled, ushering out cherished comforts, replacing them with new keep sakes, temporary adornments, and new grounding for the coming season.

Over the Labor Day weekend Ishmael ventured to St. Louis for the long-running Gateway Cup, a series of Criterium races in the Arched City. Racers from all over the country attend, giving the event a National-Type feel and competitiveness. By that point in the season I had won several races so confidence was abundant. Yet there had been a change in my racing.

The first half of the season came and went as a joy. Wins came to me in unexpected ways. I enjoyed the process, allowing each race to unfold, playing my cards just right a handful of times. But after win #5, the charm of Ishmael became Ahab’s ambition. I began racing more aggressively, taking turns just a little tighter, moving in places I did not normally squeeze into. An edginess crept into my racing that had not formerly been present.

This is the Darwinian beauty of our sport. Winners need that edge, for it is often quoted that you must risk losing in order to win. I mostly agree with that sentiment. Many, many racers, perhaps more sane than I, are happy to sit in the big bunches and remain out of harms’ way, hoping for a top 10 finish. Yet those who consistently win take the chances by attacking off the front, regrouping, and attacking again. They often are also the most aggressive in corners, fighting for position near the front, and definitely when it comes to fighting for position near the end of the race.

The guys who have been winning for years make this look easy. They slip through cracks and crevices in the peloton that only they can maneuver and they hold position like a bull fighter toying with his prey. Meanwhile, plow horses like me struggle to hold position, expend more energy than necessary to get back into position, and more closely resemble a bulldozer grading some soon-to-be-developed residential tract.

As expected, racing in St. Louis was ultra aggressive and several crashes occurred throughout the weekend. Half bull fighter and half bulldozer, I took some chances on my first day that I knew I shouldn’t have. For my Sunday race I vowed to remain in my comfort zone. But as Dr. Wilkes likes to say, ‘there was blood in the water.’

I was involved in crash with two laps to go in the Sunday race. Having been near the front when I was taken down, I took the brunt of several riders behind me who barreled into the carnage that was me on the road. Curled into the fetal position, I took several front wheels into my back which caused some rib issue and somehow I had a tire run over my right index finger such that it became dislocated. But wait, there’s more….. And my frame was cracked. Dammit.

Signs; if you don’t heed the signs life will not be so subtle in getting your attention. I often remind my friends and clients that life is always giving us signs. Relative to cycling, if you get ready to ride only to discover a flat or some other mechanical, that is life saying it’s better to take a rest day. Skip the group ride and take care of other matters; home repair, spouse appreciation; child’s practice, or much needed recovery. The signs were there for me leading up to my trip and even on race day as I discovered a flat rear tire when I arrived to the race venue. No problem; I swapped the wheel and warm up began. I paid heavily for not heeding the signs; both physically and financially (new frame).

In reflecting on the damage I realized I had ignored my own teachings and shared these thoughts with my friends. Wise counsel from Larry Stevens and David Wilkes advised me to skip the remaining races I had targeted for the season and for once, I listened to my wise friends. Thank you, guys.

Although racing had ended, Autumn heralded new beginnings, including a new team for 2014, more on which in a follow up entry to this one.

Hot Tub Time Machine and Other Sub-B Movies

25 Aug
Time Travel

Time Travel

Although time travel has yet to be proven, we know it exits via the seminal flick, Hot Tub Time Travel, which features John Cusak and friends settling in for a relaxing soak, only to be transported back to 1986. My own recent soak did not take me back quite so far, landing me instead in 1998. Recent success is reminiscent of 1998. I had suffered severe allergy symptons that spring, culiminating in an almost rideless June. Struggles to regain form in July nearly saw me quit cycling, but then in August the pollen count dropped, along with several pounds, and I began my rebound. I finished 8th in an all categories combined Crane Naval Station70 mile RR, traveled to Michigan where I placed 3rd in a Masters RR on a hard man course, and then landed in a 6-man break at Ft. Harrison that lapped the field on a 2.5 mile loop. Being the designated lead out man, I led my mates to 1st and 3rd on that day. Then finally, my day came on Labor Day in Lexington where I initiated the 4 man break that lapped the field and I won the sprint to cap a fine end of season. While Hot Tub Time Machine ranks as one of the worst movies of all time, more recent REALLY bad movies can be viewed on ScyFy channel, the home to Sharknado. We’ve already covered my morbid obsession with sharks, but my viewing of the ScyFy channel hasn’t been limited to sharks this summer. The channel tends to show movies such as Crocosaurus, Sharkasaurus, Megashark, Piranahaconda, and other such nonsense on Saturday afernoons.Megashark rips off original Batman

Megashark rips off original Batman

batman-sharkAs you can see in the photo to the upper left, Megashark threatens a helicopter rescue squad. But gee, haven’t we seen this somewhere before? In Jaws 2, or maybe it was 3, the shark consumes a helicopter, pilot and all, before turning its attention back to idiots willing to sail the monster infested waters. Oh, but wait, there is more… See the photo to the left. In the Original Batman Movie released in 1966, The Caped Crusader and Robin fend off a shark; from a helicopter, no less. Dangling from the rope ladder, Batman finds himself leg deep in a great white when he radios up to Robin to bring down the Bat Anti-Shark Repellent spray. (maybe this is the origin of my morbid obsession with sharks?)

As I prepared for the Terre Haute Criterium I knew I’d have to deal with Jim (The Shark) Creamer. Having reviewed all available shark defenses; super high voltage power line, high pressure gas tank to be blown up in shark’s mouth, or bat anti-shark repellent, I knew I’d have to go further back in time to 1966 in order to obtain the safest, most effective anti-shark defense.

Back here in the present the Terre Haute Crit. took place on a 1/2 mile circular course that featured a sharp incline out of turn 1 that led up to turn 2 where we fed into a stiff headwind all the way to turn 3, a very sharp, downhill, off camber corner that took some getting used to. Out of turn 3 it was about 300-350 meters downhill to the finish line, but on a road surface that rivals the pave of Paris Roubaix in roughness. After two warm up laps my teeth rattled around in my head like Sonny Liston’s after the Cassius Clay phantom punch sent the former champ reeling.

The Masters 40+ was a small field, to be expected at this time of year. After two laps, myself, John Schmitz and The Shark had dropped the others in the race. We rode civil, taking turns with 1-lap pulls, each rotating through with little impetus from the others.

Up the hill

Up the hill

Always thinking and strategizing, I constantly tested my two companions by pushing just a little harder up the hill and by pushing the pace from turn two into the wind to turn 3. I took turn 3 hard during my rotations on the front to guage how well John and The Shark stayed on my wheel through the turn. I noticed that both of the other two slowed the pace in the headwind section and I also noticed that Jim backed off slightly through turn 3, but I could still see his shadow as I peered under my arm, while when John followed me through the turn, he drifted far enough back to be out of sight when I peered for him. So the race boiled down to a race for turn 3 on the final lap. Whoever got there first would win the race. I made it my main objective to get to turn 3 of the final lap first. On said final lap, Schmitz hit the hill hard, gapping the shark just a bit. But the pace slowed over the top and Schmitz did not put up a fight when I went for the lead. I increased my speed into the wind hoping to fend off the shark attack as we approached turn 3. JFeeling very seal like, just to be safe, I pulled my can of Bat Anti-Shark Repellent spray and gave just a mist behind me right before we took the turn. It must have worked. I got through the turn, dropped down into my 12 and gave it everything I had for the line.

Podium

Podium

The Shark closed hard, pulling within half a bike as we crossed the line, but I held on for the win this time. Schmitz mishandled the turn such that he thought he was going to end up in the Wabash River, but after avoiding a possible time travel experience himself, he gave a burst that caught up to Jim and I as we crossed the line. I had registered for the 1,2,3 race but as I warmed up for the race my bike was making a gawd-awful clattering sound. I stopped to inspect the bike and found that my cassette had come loose due to the jarring road surface on the finish straight. As luck would have it, the neutral support crew from Jay’s Cycles of Terre Haute had packed up and left just 10 minutes before. I often remind you guys that when you get ready to ride and discover you have a flat or some other mechanical issue, it is usually a sign from life that you aren’t meant to do that ride. Having learned my lessons the hard way, I acquiesced to the sign and scrateched from the 1,2,3 race, and headed straight for the bike shop to tighten the cassette, before heading home.  I’m always pleased and proud when I hear success stories from those of you I coach. Yesterday’s CIBA ride was quite a scorcher, as described by many of you. Local pro, Jake, set the pace from mile one and never let up. 65 miles later, or in some cases 73 miles later, tired legs square-peddaled back to the start location. In between however, is where the successes occurred. Dr. Wilkes had planned to stop at the 25-mile SAG for bottle refills and several others agreed to do the same. However, the SAG appeared at mile 20. Dr. Wilkes pulled over and no one else did. David had no time to react, instead, quickly ramping up to speed and chasing back to the Jake-led peloton. Reaching a max speed of 34 mph, the doctor did catch back on, much to the amazement of his friends, Dr. Stevens and others. Wilkes admits he’d not have been able to make such a move in years past and gave credit to the training plan I’ve had him on this season. Great job Dr. Wilkes. Likewise, David Kaplan found himself 50 or 100 meters behind the very select Jake-led lead group at mile 60 or so. Kaplan had to dig deep from a large group to make the bridge back into contact with the leaders. Josh Ginsburg joined Kaplan on the dig and both made it back up to the group. Nice work, fellas. Community L’Espirit de CorpsOur Monday night ride continues to grow, with nearly 25 people last Monday night. This is an all-comers ride. No one gets dropped. The speed is 16-17 mph, the perfect anti-dote to a hard weekend of riding. Most folks enjoy a beer after the ride. I hope to see more of you on this ride in the coming weeks. A few groups have merged to form a Sunday morning ride from Smoky Row Elementary on Sunday mornings. We had 45 or 50 people riding socially with no crazy hammering today. Harry and Bri head up the ride, along with Frank and Mark Ohlman. It’s a pleasant way to spend a Sunday morning; low stress, among friends, and burning calories. We typically cover 45 or 50 miles. Those in attendance today included Eva, Andrea, Brian Murphy, Dr. Wilkes, Frank Oboh, David Kaplan, Brandon Thompson, Jim Creamer and many others. Additional miles can be added by riding over from Fishback. Look for this to continue until the weater turns for the worse. Racing continues next week in St. Louis: (oh no), the home of Big Shark Bicycles  😉

Can't Make This Stuff Up

Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Winning Weather, Winning Performances

18 Aug

The Midwest Spring dumped unending showers of rain on us, along with cooler than normal temperatures that threatened to undermine the fitness we all worked so hard to attain during the winter months. Yet as spring finally acquiesced to summer we were blessed with near perfect competition conditions every weekend. This weekend may have been the pick of the summer with cool morning temps hovering near 60 degrees, clear blue skies and just enough wind to simulate those infamous Indiana Mountains.

Many members of the B.I.T. community took advantage of Mother Nature’s blessing by participating in a number of events held over the weekend. In addition to the Speedway Grand Prix on Friday night, other athletes competed in the Eagle Creek Duathlon or the Gran Fondo over on the northeast side of Indy.

The Speedway Grand Prix served as a kick off to the Moto GP weekend and coincided with the Ducati gathering on Main Street, just south of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The town has made big strides in cleaning up former brownfields properties,redeveloping the once stagnant economic area. Personally, it was nice for me to see the renovations because I assessed much of the property prior to redevelopment. Local businesses remained opened and several local employees came out to watch and question us racers about our sport. Most onlookers seemed pleased for the influx of people into their little neck of the world.

Keeping the crowd entertained and informed was the inimitable Bill Stone. Bill’s wit and insight sometimes flew over the heads of those in the audience, but those with keen ears caught the back stories of racers nicknames; like John “Suitcase” Schmitz who earned his monikor via the huge saddle bag he used to carry under his saddle. The bag would sway back and forth whenever he got out of the saddle to chase a break away. Eventually, folks began shouting, ‘Go get ’em, Suitcase.’

Stone also complimented the pro,1,2 racers for their dietary discipline, explaining to the audience that these guys are super fast and super skinny. They eat meals consisting of bird seed and yogurt, washed down with a few drops of water and perhaps an Italian coffee.

The course was a four corner, wide open loop that rarely required any braking. Only approaching turn 4 did you ever need to feather your brakes. Otherwise, racers could hit the gas at any point on the course. Us old guys began the evening of racing with a combined 40+/50+ field of 28 riders. We raced for 5 money spots, but were scored seperately according to age group.

Ben Weaver opend the attacking on lap 1, followed by Chris Kroll, Don Birch and then Damian Magoos. Matthew Grate took a dig, and then Weaver’s teammate, Craig Eigenbrod flew off the front for a lap or 2. The wind, however, created quite an obstacle for a loan rider and Eigenbrod was reeled in. Another of Weaver’s teammates took a solo flyer, once again stringing out the field into a single file, on the rivet chase. Upon capture, Weaver launched again and this one was for real.

Kroll and Birch latched onto the train while I was initially stuck in traffic. Grate was in front of me through turn 1 and into the headwind, but he could not quite get onto the back wheel of Birch. As we moved into the wind, the leaders began growing their gap. I let grate pull until he noticeably weakend and then I launched, bridging to the break. No one came with me and once I made the juncture, away we went.

The Break

The Break

The four of us worked smoothly with each taking his share of the pulls. After the race, Weaver even said, ‘we raced friendly.’ And that would make sense at this late point of the season. The four of us have known each other for years, having raced against one another numerous times through the seasons. Kroll, Birch and I each knew Weaver was the man to beat, yet we all each had our own ambitions as well, and this often plays into the hands of the strongest rider.

Weaver has won 10 or more races this season in all manner of situations; long small break aways, large field sprints, in cross wind conditions and even in the rain. Ben has simply had an amazing season, due in part to his incredible jump. Weaver rarely loses a sprint. Stone on the microphone even commented that these other guys might start attacking to try and wear out the sprinter in the group.

As it was, the attacks were few and brief. We did manage to position Weaver on the front as we began the final lap and forced him to lead into the wind to turn 2. But as we approached the turn, Ben astutely kept going straight, right into the road barricade and the dead end. Kroll was on Weaver’s wheel and left with the choice of following Weaver into the barricade or turning through the turn and being placed on the front.

To give an example how much thinking goes on in split second decisions during our races, i was thinking if Kroll follows him right here, I am jumping and hoping to break clear of these guys. Kroll however, did take the turn and lead us through turn 2 and through turn 3. Then it got testy.

Weaver attacked from behind, we all jumped out of our saddles and then Weaver quickly sat back down before being forced onto the front. Kroll was slow to sit back down, a bit frustrated at the faux attack by Weaver. Again, it was split second thinking that caught the Badger off guard. I noted Kroll’s slow reaction and waited for him to finally sit back down into his saddle. As he did so, I rose out of mine and attacked.

Podium

Podium

By this point we were were halfway to turn 4 and it became a race to get to that turn first. Whoever got it first was likely to take the win. Weaver was lightning quick, pulling even to me in the blink of an eye and pinning me to the outside as a match spinter on the velodrome would do. I had no choice but to give Ben the lane and the lead into turn 4. At this point we all had our pedal to the floor and there was no beating Weaver; he took the win easily. I held 2nd and was awarded First Place in the 50+ Category. Kroll and Birch took 3rd and 4th.

At this point let me thank Frank Oboh for coming out to cheer me on. You’ll recall Frank suffered some bad injuries in a crash at the IMS in the June 8 Tour de Cure. Frank is mostly reocvered now, riding and enjoying his bike again and was quite enthused by the spectacle of the racing. It was good to share laughs and cycling with Frank.

I did stick around and race the Pro,1,2,3 event with the bird seed-eating super cyclists. Appropriately enough, Chad Birdman Burdzulauskas won the event. Mark Dewart’s son, Graham took 2nd place. I don’t have a lot of recollection from this one as the average speed was 29 mph. At times, I made efforts to move up into the front 10 and those efforts left me cross eyed for 2 or 3 laps thereafter. Attacks continued throughout the entire hour of racing. Nonetheless, the pack was still all together with 3 laps to go. Having just brought back another group who’d been off the front, the pack settled in to regroup for the final laps and I figured this was my slim chance to slip away from these guys so I gave it a go.

I did open a gap with Mike Lantz and John Puffer joining me. After my pull Lantz came through with Puffer barrelling through about 4 mph faster than Mike and I. Had Puffer joined the right company he may have stolen the race. Unfortunately, I was cooked and waited (at 27 mph) for the pack to consume me, sitting at the back of the bunch over the final 2 laps.

Truesport.com put on a very good event on a safe and fast course that was very spectator friendly. The Speedway Wheelman team provided excellent support for the event. Thanks and kudos to Darren and the Team.

Confidence ;)

Confidence 😉

Deb DuBois competed in the Eagle Creek Duathlon Saturday morning and you can see by the pre-race photo she was feeling her oats. As a spectator sipping my huge volumes of coffee I felt sorry for the triathletes who had to jump into frigid waters as the first portion of their race. Those frigid thoughts were quickly forgotten however, as I ran into friends competing in the triathlon. Doug Trumpey had a super race, finishing in the top 10. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Scott Baumer this year, a Category 2 racer for the Indie Bike Team. Scott was competing in his first ever triathlon Saturday morning.

Deb started strong with a good first run, covering the 2 miles quicker than recent running events. Deb again improved her average speed on the bike, acknowleding the benefit of those Monday night rides, and then she finished with another 5 K run that was strong enough to solidify another first place in age group. Great job, Deb!

 

 

Good Form

Good Form

While Deb competed on the west side, several B.I.T. athletes participated in the RollFast Gran Fondo over on the east side. Angelia Kniesely, Matt Edwards, Henry Kim and Phelgar Washington all rode the medium route of 62 miles. Living a short 10 miles from the start/finish, Angelia and Matt rode over to the event. Anthony Barr, David Wilkes, Larry Stevens, Todd Wingett and David Kaplan rode the long route, 103 miles worth. Robin Barr rode the 32 mile route.

Angelia and David Kaplan both reported that the first nine miles were neutralized by a police escort that made things a bit sketchy with all ability levels mixed together. While some riders relaxed at what for them was an easy pace, less experienced riders labored to keep up, sometimes causing near mishaps. Just after the police gave way and the pack unleashed the hounds, there was a crash.

Angelia, Matt and Henry rode together in a larger group that included Phelgar. The four of them turned for the medium route at mile 31 where they began working together such that others riders dropped from their group, leaving the four of them to cover the 2nd half by themselves.

Angelia with Matt to her right and Henry to her left

Angelia with Matt to her right and Henry to her left

They say familiarity breeds confidence and success. Angelia finished the Medium route at the First Female finisher. Matt finished 9th overall and 3rd in his age group while Henry finished 14th overall and 2nd in his age group. Great job to all!

Dr. Wilkes hung with the lead group of 100-milers to the first SAG where he stopped to top off his water bottles while many in the group hammered on. From that point Wilkes enjoyed the ride, taking pulls with those in his group but all the while monitoring his energy expenditure. Relaxed and enjoying his Triton Brewery beer when I called to check on him, the doctor was pleased with the event. Meanwhile, David Kaplan hung with the leaders to the half way point at 52 miles. Kaplan decided to take on fuel and just as he put a clif bar down the hatch, the hammer dropped. Out of position and unable to bridge the gap on the pot-holed, rough roads, David lost contact with the lead group. Thereafter, Kaplan settled in with a group and enjoyed the great weather and scenery the event afforded.

Anthony suffered leg cramps, but did manage to finish the 103 miles in good enough condition to still enjoy his beer. I did not hear from Larry, Todd or Robin about their rides, but I did see Todd along the route. As always, Todd was smooth and strong at about mile 90 as he rode by. Out on an easy training ride with Brian Murphy, I had the pleasure of running into Angelia and Matt on their ride home from the fondo. Brian and I rode backwards on the route and saw the leaders in the final miles. There were pained looks on some of those faces, but all the B.I.T. athletes looked fluid and strong. Great job to all who rode.

With Mother Nature’s blessing, the Monday night rides are gaining popularity and that may have something to do with the post ride beers. Or the cupcakes. We ride every Monday night at 6:30 from Fishback Academy at 86th/Lafayette. Hope to see some of you there. The group is comprised mostly of riders who participate in my winter training program. On that note, I’ve opened registration for this winter’s training. Those interested my contact me for info and/or a flyer at altrdstats51@yahoo.com

Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

13 Aug

shark-eating-seal-300x254Last week was Shark Week. Those close to me know I have a seriously morbid obsession with sharks. Like so many of us, it goes back to the movie, Jaws. I think I was around 12 years old when the movie hit the theaters. I’ll never forget how I nearly hit the ceiling when that head popped out from under the boat.

It’s akin to the Kramer painting: I find it offensive, loathsome and disgusting, yet I can’t look away. Even today, when the movie comes on some cable channel, I’ll stop what I am doing and sit down for the remainder of the show.

Sadly, over the years my morbid obsession has morphed into a mantra; Stay Out Of The Water. People pee in swimming pools (Mike & Mike in the Morning on ESPN last week); there are things in fresh water bodies of water with huge claws and teeth (think northern pike on HgH); and there are sharks in the ocean. People on these shows are begging to be attacked! Stay the f$#@ out of the water. But I digress.

Saturday found us racer types at the 6th Annual Mass. Avenue Criterium. The race has become the preimier cycling event in Indiana. This year the organizers raised the bar several notches with street lights and night time racing, along with inovative technological advances. The races were streamed live to 12 flat screens along Mass. Ave. and also to smart phones. Big kudos to the announcer, John Gatch, as well. His enthusiasm entertained the large crowds and kept the racers well informed of the strategic situation on course; perhaps a little too informed in some cases – uh hum.

You could say the Mass Ave. course is shaped like a shark’s tooth, what with it’s triangle course and two greater (or lesser, depending on how you look at it) than 90 degree turns (shark sharp), not to mention the numerous pot holes, sewer grates and rough spots that simulate the serrated edges of a shark’s tooth, scattered about the course. So given all of the shark shinola, fate decided to taunt me with the ultimate shark image – snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

On the start line with Creamer

On the start line with Creamer

A huge crowd including several friends were on hand for the 22 or so of us in the Masters 50+ race. Damian Maggoos of Heroes was the early aggressor, attacking 2 or 3 times within the first couple of laps. Matthew Grate of Men of Steel Racing took up the action with an attack, followed by a couple more aggressors. A lap of respite ensued and then pre-race heavy favorite, John Schmitz of Indie bike took a big dig, opening a 7 second gap on the field.

I laid back to this point, hoping to preserve as many matches as possible for the 40+ race at 8 pm. Normally, I’d not hold back because most 40+ races are only the usual 45 or 50 minutes long, but Saturday’s 40+ was a Megaladon-esque 70 minutes. I could feel the jaws of three-intervals-per-lap biting into my quads already. But here’s the rub; we are wired to attack. Like a shark, it’s instinct after you’ve been doing this for a while.

Growing the lead

Growing the lead

As the group closed in on Schmitz I could sense the pack fatiguing from the early hot pace. As Dr. Wilkes likes to say, ‘there was blood in the water.’ And so as we caught John, I countered. I hoped someone would go with me, but no one did. My gap widened and my mind started in: ‘Man, I did not want to expend this much energy in this race when I have another 70 minutes looming.’ Even so, I carried on building my lead lap after lap, eventually staying out front for at least a third, maybe half of the race. About this time the announcer began calling that Schmitz was on the attack, hoping to bridge. I eased slightly, hoping Schmitz could latch on unattended. Nope. The group was too cagey to let two of us get away together. My better option was to hold focus on the moment and forget about the later race, forgoing any easing up and just doing it on my own. As it was, the group came back together with 10 laps to go and now the shark had me where he wanted me – fatigued.

Burning matches

Burning matches

At 5 laps to go a small group broke clear of the pack, but neither myself or Schmitz made the effort to join them so they ran free for a couple of laps. At three to go the pack took up the chase and had two of the three re captured as we began the bell lap. Matthew Grate dangled off the front through turn 1 and through turn 2. As I came out of turn 2 Grate still held a considerable lead so I had to jump then. From turn 2 it’s 600 or more meters to the finish line. The shark in the form of jim Creamer, latched onto me, poised for the kill.

I caught the lone rider approaching turn 3 and had to slow for him as he did not handle the turn very well, and then I had to reaccelerate into the home stretch. Creamer tucked in and slipped by in the final 5 meters. It was agonizing to lose the race after having it firmly in my jaws (hand). Yet if I had to get beat, better it be by a guy who I introduced the sport to and to a guy who happens to share the same birthday as me.

Jim for the win

Jim for the win

Jim came to the bike shop where I was conducting winter training classes for the 09-10 winter training season. I encouraged he and his daughter to sign up. Both Jim and his daughter exhibited natural athleticism and I could tell Jim would take to the sport. Over these few years Jim made huge strides and upgraded to Category 2 at the end of last season. Always with a smile and a positive word, Jim’s an all around good guy; a worthy State Champion.

I was fortunate to have many friends on hand, as evidenced by some of the photos. On that note, I’ve included several photos in this post because I am blessed to have two friends who take professional quality photos; Scott Brooks and Adam Perler. Thank you very much, guys, for the wonderful collection. You guys are jawesome.

 

50+postraceAfter the race we celebrated the podium, which also included Brad Demott, otherwise known as Fast Freddie. Brad manages Gray Goat Cycling on the south side and earlier this year he really helped me out when I was in a bind. My old wheels were way out of true, especially the rear wheel. My normal resources were busy, so I called Brad and asked for help. He told me to come on down and he’d true the wheels up for me. I am grateful and I highly recommend south siders visit his shop on S. SR 135.

 

 

 

PodiumAfter the podium celebration it was time to get ready for the Megaladon, 40+ race. Although it was tempting to skip it and begin drinking beer with friends, the bite of defeat was too strong to ignore. I was determined to give a good effort in the second race. With twice the field size and legs 10 years younger (not to mention fresher) the pace was blistering from the start.

In the first race I happend to be parked next to Jim Creamer at the start line. As I took the line for race #2, I lined up next to Court Maple. As you can see in the photo below, Court was very intense before the race. He looked like he was ready to devour something or someone, although he did offer a fist bump with me just before we took off.

This is purely speculation, but I suspect Court had some payback to give. At the State RR a few weeks ago, Court raced in the 35+ category that mixed in with the 45+ and the 55+. Court established a break away with 4 other riders, all of whom were in the 45+ category. I am told that Court did most of the work, knowing he was the only one in his category, having secured victory by default.

As the race closed in on the finish, one rider attacked and broke clear of Court to take the ‘overall’ victory while another rider who sat in the entire break, according to my source, still sprinted for third place. Perhaps Court was simply focused on winning a big race. Whatever the case, he had the look of determination at the start. Or maybe he knew that the guy standing next to me at the start of the 50+ won that one so he figured standing next to me would enhance his chance of winning 😉

It was over before we started

It was over before we started

After five blistering laps we were offered a prime. The 3rd place finisher in the state road race claimed the prime and Court jumped immediately after the prime. Being the only rider in position to go with Court, 3rd place went with Court and lasted perhaps 2 laps before being summarily dropped back to the group. Court was on fire. He grew his gap to 18 seconds but with the the dropped rider back in the fold, the one team with multiple riders in the race took up the chase. Smelling blood in the water, other riders joined the chase and Court was reeled in after and extensive effort.

So Court merely did what champions do; he attacked again straight away. Micah Fritzinger, Ben weaver and Tom Cox broke clear of the group and remained with Court for 20 minutes or so, putting us this point at 40 minutes into the race. One of the trio was unable to contribute as much to the break as the rest of the group and when Court sensed the weaker rider on his wheel, he attacked again. The other two hesitated and that was it. Game over. Court was gone, flying around the course as if possessed.

Court’s lead grew steadily over the final 25 minutes of the race such that he lapped what was left of the main field at five laps to go. And not only did he lap us, he also went straight to the front and drove us around the course over the final 5 laps.

Prior to Court’s capturing the main field, two other riders broke free, leaving Court + 5 others in front of the dwindling field. We were racing for 7th place. My own race was a labor. The first race had taken quite a bit out of me. At the 35 minute mark of this one I was not sure I would be able to finish, yet that biting defeat drove me onward. My legs strained with each acceleration out of turn 1.

Believe it or not, despite doing 2 races, I thought prior to Saturday that the longer, 70 minute race would favor me because this age group normally does not race that long. I’ve doubled up, often back to back, a number of times this year, so I felt a longer race would wear down the guys who were not used to racing that long. As we drew nearer and nearer the finish I sensed that I was gaining an advantage over several riders. When Court lapped us and took the front, the pace ratcheted up a notch and I found myself 3rd wheel, an almost perfect spot for the end of the race.

Court’s driving pace kept the field strung out over the final five laps, with him acquiesing the lead only as we approached the final turn on the last lap. Entering the final turn at #2 wheel was good and bad. The rider leading did not take the turn so well, causing me to slow slightly before re accelerating out of the turn to sprint for the finish. All the way down the finish stretch I held the lead, yet wondered, when are they gonna come rushing by me. As I approached the line I fleetingly thought, O.M.G., I’m gonna get the field sprint. And then, just like the previous race, not one, but two riders pipped by me right at the line. Harry Clark took the field sprint for 7th. I held on to finish 9th on old and tired legs.

Court cruised in behind us, arms extended in Victory. The three riders Court dislodged at the 40 minute mark hung on the battle for 2nd with Fritzinger claiming the silver and Ben Weaver taking 3rd place.

Congrats to both Jim and Court. Tip to everyone else for the remaining races; stand next to me on the start line.

I don’t often start on the front row, but when I do, I stand next to winners. Stay victorious, my friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spawn Of The Devil Be Damned

4 Aug

Those of you who regularly attend my training classes know that one of my mottos is: Running is the spawn of the devil. Of course, I say this facetiously, chiding those runners in the class to put more time on their bikes for better cycling performance. I know running, or any other cardio exercise is good for health and wellness. Running seems to be one of the easiest ways to get back in shape; all it takes is a pair of running shoes, some shorts and a little determination. Stride by stride, one improves.

Yet on the flip side, many of us have run so much that our bodies have broken down with fractured hips, severely strained IT bands, bad low backs, or any number of other ailments such that cycling has become the go-to activity. And this is where my spawn of the devil chiding comes in. Run if you must, but ride that bike for overall wellness and enjoyment.

It seems the Devil’s furnace has been turned off this summer so he’s been whispering in many ears to break out the running sneakers of late. B.I.T. athletes have heard the siren call, hitting the trails and pavement in force this weekend, and posting fantastic results, to boot (really, did he just use a foot pun?).

Matt Jordan and Planet Adventure hosted the 4th Annual Eagle Creek Trail Marathon on Saturday, just west of Eagle Creek Park. The event catered to runners of all abilities with the following categories: 5K, 1/4 marathon, 1/2 marathon and Full Marathon. Friday night’s rain sullied the course, making for slick and much slower conditions, however, the angel on my right shoulder grinned with approval, for the soft course meant less pounding on those fragile legs.

The Winner!

The Winner!

Deb DuBois, Cristal Garrison and Mike Garrison represented the B.I.T. crew in fine fashion. Deb WON her age group in the 1/4 marathon. She said the first two miles were fabulous as she bounded over logs and branches. After that, each log was a welcome respite to stop, slowly slide over, and then resume the running, which took one hour, 12 minutes and 53 seconds. Ouch.

Cristal Garrison completed the 1/2 marathon in 2:49, smiling all the way. Cristal said she kept hearing coach Bob’s voice saying, ‘keep it steady; don’t overdo it, hold your pace.’ Upon seeing Cristal’s exuberance as she crossed the finish line, Deb deadpanned, “Wow, she went twice as far as me and I looked twice as bad when I crossed the line.”

Exuberant Finish!

Exuberant Finish!

Better Than Champagne

Better Than Champagne

Not one to mess about with these minimalist workouts, Mike Garrison traversed the full marathon in 4 hours and 55 minutes. One can only imagine what the devil may have been saying to Mike to induce him to run for so long.  Mike was not available for a photo at the conclusion of his run.   We in the B.I.T community are known to enjoy our beer. as such, last week we learned of a new favorite sweeping the Hoosier state, Gumball Head Beer from Three Floyds. On the Monday night ride Ken Green among others, raved about the newly discovered brew, which just happens to be sold at Trader’s Point Creamery. To celebrate Deb’s win on Saturday, we went to the Creamery for dinner and toasted with the fine, citrusy, wheat ale. On Sunday B.I.T. athletes convened downtown for the Tuxedo Brothers Tri Indy, although B.I.T. athletes Deb DuBois and Josh Ginsberg skipped the canal swim, opting instead for the duathlon division of this event. Josh has worked extremely hard getting back in shape in 2013, losing nearly 40 pounds since last winter. The hard work is paying off; Josh finished 8th overall and 2nd in his age group. Josh’s bike split of 23.0 MPH was 3rd fastest bike leg on the day. Josh credits those 3 hour Sunday trainer rides with B.I.T. for his cycling succceses this season. Nice job Josh!! Deb surprised herself with a 2nd in age group and a new PR for the bike split with an average speed of 18.5 mph. Deb again credits the Monday night rides from Fishback as one of the main components of her improvement.

Podium Glass For Josh

Podium Glass For Josh

Deb Striding it out

Deb Striding it out

Happy Podium Finishers

Happy Podium Finishers

In purely cycling news, Adam Perler competed in the Masters National Track Championships over the weekend. Adam’s first event was the match sprint, a competition that pits two riders against each other for 2 laps of the 333 meter velodrome. The strategy is to outmaneuver your opponent such that you make your opponent lead out the sprint. To do so, riders hold a track stand or pedal as slowly as possible around the steeply banked track for one lap or more, the inside rider trying to hold the outside rider close to the rail at the top of the track. As the riders move slowly around the track on the lap 2, eventually one rider accelerates rapidly down the track. The percentages favor the rider who follows the first accelerator because the 2nd rider gains benefit of the draft before fully opening the jets to sprint in the final straight. However, it doesn’t always work that way as some riders open such a huge gap with their initial burst, that the trailing rider uses all his or her energy in simply closing the gap, leaving nothing left for a final burst in the home stretch.

Adam managed to negotiate the qualfying rounds in his age group (35-39) such that he ended up in an odd finale. Four riders took the track to race for one podium spot, 5th place. (National Championships award podium spots to 5 deep rather than the traditional 3). Where normally the event is a one against one, Adam faced three other hungry competitors for that final podium spot. In hopes of surprising his competitors and also hoping they might hesitate, Adam jumped much earlier than in a traditional match sprint, accelerating out of turn 4 at the end of the first lap. Nearly 400 meters is a l-o-n-g way to hold a sprint, but it was worth a surprise attack in the National Championshps.

Adam on the fly

Adam on the fly

Initially, Adam gained a nice gap, forcing the 2nd rider to work very hard to close the gap, which he did about half way through the back stretch. A strong headwind on said back stretch stymied Adam’s move and thus, the other three passed in Turn 4, leaving Adam to settle for 8th place in his first event. Lessons learned and valuable experience gained leave Adam looking to 2014 with high ambitions.

Great job to all the competitors over the weekend.

New Albany Crit.

29 Jul

The final weekend of July brought crisp, autumn-like temperatures and clear blue skies to much of the midwest, perfect conditions for outdoor activities. B.I.T. athletes welcomed Mother Nature’s respite by garnering several top placings at various venues throughout the region.

Helen's Podium

Helen’s Podium

Deb DuBois and daughter, Helen, competed in the ‘They Call Me Al’ St. Alphonso’s Church 5K run in Zionsville Saturday morning. The mostly flat course was toughened up by a stiff headwind in the final mile of the race. Helen cruised the event, finishing as 3rd overall female. Deb met her time goal and placed 3rd in her age group. Well done, ladies.

Deb's Podium

Deb’s Podium

Jim with 95 Year Old Paul Miller, of Normal, IL

Jim with 95 Year Old Paul Miller, of Normal, IL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Creamer competed in the National Senior Games in Cleveland over the weekend. Unlike other parts of the midwest, Cleveland featured rain and cool temps as Jim reports, “Although this was a national race, competition was closer to a local Masters 50+ event that was won by a ‘Boggs’ type racer from Mississippi who won both days (he also won both TT events).  I think Indiana is quite strong comparatively.

“Saturday was cold and very wet.  Not knowing anyone, I went with every early break only to be brought back.  The course was on a highway along lake Erie that had a climb of nearly a mile.  1st lap was in the big chain but later laps I spun up the hill in the small.  The field split quickly on the 2nd lap following a series of attacks when the eventual winner broke solo midway up the hill.  No one gave chase and I for one, was beginning to struggle.  The final 2 miles were chaotic in the rain as we were all bunched up; there were crashes in the final 2 turns, luckily I was out near the front and won the exhausting sprint for 2nd – 20 seconds behind the winner.

“Sunday was on the same course, but with a strong headwind to fight.  Again a couple early attempted breaks but I stayed within striking distance waiting for Mississippi to attack.  He went at the perfect time as we were climbing and things were congested at the front.  He got a good lead before I and another guy worked together to chase him down.  It became a 3 man break and again I struggle to do my share.  About 3 miles from the finish the peloton began smelling the barn and seemed to be closing down rapidly on us. The guy behind me hit my rear wheel and went down.  (Later he said it was his fault for drafting too closely.) It was down to 2 of us but we made it.  The sprint came down to a photo finish.  The announcer called us back to the line only to tell us over the PA that judges determined that Mississippi won. In the moment, It hurt so much that I told my son I would have rather finished 20th. But after a few moments reflection, my perspective cleared and I realized it was all worth it though, for having seen that 95 yr old racing.  His name was Paul Miller from Normal Ill.”

Adam Perler continues his improvement toward competition in Track Masters National Championships. Representing Joey Keller, Adam proudly wears his Team Joey kit as a reminder of how fortunate we all are to have health, vitality, and a community of friendship and support. Adam posted 2 season bests during final event tune-ups with a 12.2 sec in the flying 200 (he was a 13.6 early in the year) and a 1:19 (improved from 1:34 early in the season) in the 1k. Adam is striving to break the 12-second barrier in the Flying 200. In order to do so, he’ll need to hit 40 mph.  Hopefully the wind  will cooperate. Adam reports, “I am just hopeful that I will be able to repeat these times when it really counts.  The flying 200 and match sprint rounds will be on Friday.  I believe I need to get in to the top 12 in my age group to advance to the sprint tournament.  I will then do the 1k on Saturday.  As you know, I am not an endurance guy… but that is turning out to be one of the areas I have improved the most in.  Finally, I will be teaming up with two guys from the Speedway Wheelmen for a Team Sprint.  I will be the lead off guy for the  Sunday event.  My goal is to bring the group up to 35mph from a standing start on the first lap and then peel off.  This is harder than it seems. As it turns out, I have a “turbo lag” in my jump which starts out a little weak (probably from a slipped disc in my back) and then I hit my stride… unfortunately I have left my teammates behind a few times which is never a good things as my job is to go fast, but keep us together.  The best part is that they have all agreed to wear Team Joey schwag during our event.  If I have any chance of making the nationals podium, this will likely be the event.  Either way… this season has been great.  I will go out and have fun.  I will be riding for my coach in the sky, Joey Keller, and dedicating my nationals to my cousin who will be having his 4th operation for a rare brain tumor as I pedal and navigate the velodrome… hopefully faster than I have ever gone before.” Best wishes for a fast and safe weekend, Adam!

New Albany Crit.

Southern Indiana and the Louisville area have never been hospitable to me as a bike racer. I’ve jokingly called the racers down there the Huns of Louisville in the past. It’s not that they are mean folks, but rather, they are as competitive a lot as you’ll find anywhere in the midwest. I enjoyed catching up with Eric Fagerburg, Mike McShane and Brad Swope prior to the racing. Yesterday’s event was a new venue, but the competition remained pretty much the same as it’s always been; fierce. As venues go, the promoters put on a great event. The course was secured by an excellent volunteer staff, podiums were ushered quickly after races were completed, and payouts were handled in a very timely manner.

The course was not overly challenging, although it did feature as such: From the Start/Finish line racers tarverse approximately 200 yards to turn 1, a wide, sweeping left turn requring no speed let up. After turn 1, racers were greeted with a nice tail wind on the longest straight of the course that fed into a fairly wide turn 2 left hand bend, followed by a short straight into another left hander for Turn 3. Out of turn 3, racers were met with a stiff headwind, perhaps a fortunate blessing as it slowed us on a few occasions, before narrowing into a tight right hander at turn 4. From 4 we took a short straight to another tight left hander at Turn 5, then a very short straight to a left hander in Turn 6, at which point we opened the jets for the Finish line.

The finish straight was lined with vendors, including the River City Winery, which Deb was quick to cozy up to. It wasn’t long before Sean O’Donnell’s lovely partner, Nita, joined Deb in the sun, enjoying their wine while there men battled The Huns in the Masters 40+ event. 25 of us took the line for this one and the pace was hot from the get go. Texas Roadhouse, McDonald’s, Barbasol, Ft. Wayne Outfitters, and Scheller’s all featured multiple riders in this race. As such, attacks and counters continued throughout the entire 42 minutes of racing, culminating in an average speed of 27 mph. Mike McShane of Texas Roadhouse and Eric Fagerburg of Clarksville Schwinn were instigators of many of the moves off the front. With so many teams represented, though, no small group was going to break free from the pack. Early on it was McShane, countered by Tolson, countered by myself, countered by Fagerburg, countered by McDonald’s, countered by Schellers, and on and on and on, it went…

NewAlbany1The final laps were intense as riders jostled for position. Tolson and Micah Fritzinger of McDonald’s made the right move on the final lap, jumping into the headwind from Turn 3 to turn 4, with the former wrestler, Fritzinger, edging past the wiley veteran to take the win for McDonald’s down the stretch.

The Masters 50+ lined up 10 minutes after the 40+ers finished. Perhaps 17 of us lined up for this one, with a handful having just completed the 40+ race. Being older, this group wasn’t as fast as the prior, but they were no less competitive. Brad Swope of Texas Roadhouse, a multi-time Masters National Champion, took the first attack hoping to soften the group. Upon his capture, I attacked hard for half a lap, but the group wasn’t giving me any leeway. After a couple laps of respite, Swope attacked again and I countered his move. Finally, other riders took short attacks, but no one managed to break free of the group until late in the race. A Team Louisville rider broke clear, later followed by a McDonald’s rider, forming a 10-second gap on the group with 7 laps to go. With 5 laps to go Ft. Wayne Outfitters took up the chase, bringing it together at 3 to go. Swope and a McD’s racer took turns trying to snap the elastic of the field in the final 3 laps and seemed to have an effect as several riders tired over the final 3 laps.

NewAlbany2On the final lap Swope jumped from Turn 2 and held the lead through Turn 3 where the headwind stymied his move. Having witnessed Tolson and Fritzinger in the preceding race I had decided I would jump out of Turn 3 into the wind and take my chances on holding it to the line. My tactic worked and I took the win. John May of Papa John’s had been my nemesis early in the race, brining me back after my attacks. As such, he followed me on the final lap and took 2nd place.

I don't often accept awards, but when I do I prefer wine and ice cream - stay thirsty and hungry, my friends

I don’t often accept awards, but when I do I prefer wine and ice cream – stay thirsty and hungry, my friends

Post race was enjoyed in the company of Deb along with Sean O’Donnell of Columbus and his partner, Nita. Sean had not originally planned to race in New Albany, but upon waking to Nita’s urging to get out and enjoy such a beautiful day, the pair came down to enjoy the race. Sean is a lucky man. Best wishes to Adam at Masters National Track Nationals. Looking forward to the festive and competitive Mass. Ave. Crit. on August 10th.