Friday, October 2, 2009

Moving Day

I'm in the process of moving this blog to wordpress. It looks nicer and is a bit more pleasant to use.

Please update your RSS feeds, links, and whatnot, and I hope I don't lose too many of my several faithful readers over the switch.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

World Championships

I woke up late enough to catch only the fun parts of the World Championships last weekend.

It's pretty nice to see Cadel Evans, who has a bit of a reputation as an always-the-bridesmaid rider (not to mention a bit of a whiner), ride a strong, well-timed attack to victory. Seeing him alone in the final kilometer, out of the saddle and grinding his gear to the finish line without any flamboyant victory salutes - that's a nice aesthetic of victory. It reminded me of Sergei Ivanov's stage win on stage 14 of the Tour this year - the right attack that gets clear and then a hard, ride, hands in the drops, ass on the nose, pounding home solo. Now that's PRO.

Booger Knights

My track bikes have all left town, but I'm still going to find a way to come to Boogie Nights, a five-week late-night track-bike race series in Prospect Park.

Yes, it's safe.

It's a great way to get some fun end-of-the-season racing in. It's also a good way to get some first-time race experience under your belt, if you haven't raced in a pack, or raced a track bike before. It will get you buying your USAC license and dreaming of Opening Day out at Kissena.

There will be good competition for noobs and for experienced racers, so if you're in the city, come check it out.

Prizes will be multitudinous. A plan ticket to anywhere in the lower 48 states will be raffled off, with all proceeds going to support Gabe's ongoing recovery.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Recycled Content #3

"Race well, race with dignity, race with a conscience:" Sprinter Della Casa proposes USAC policies to punish intentionally dangerous riders, and reminds us that there are some people who take our down-home amateur sport far too seriously - to the detriment and danger of those around them.

I twitter. I apologize.

Everybody's favorite racer, Fabian Cancellara (he's up there with Hincapie and Jens Voigt on everybody's Awesome list, partly due to this stage win), recently won the World Time Trial Championship. He completed the the 49.8 kilometre course in 57:54. That gives him an average speed of 51.5kph, or 32mph, for a whole damn hour. What will it take to get this man on a velodrome to go after the Hour Record?

Yesterday, I rode a friend's custom Johnny Coast (this one, in fact), and was delighted at how soft and comfortable it rode.

Cycling Art reflects on descending, and one of my favorite scenes from this year's Giro d'Italia.

VeloGogo has the best picture of Reynolds' carbon clincher that doesn't use a traditional hook to hold the bead. Hmm. Go figure.

And finally, Hipster Nascar gives a pretty good look at what fixed gear bikes companies are showing at Interbike. I offer a cringe at the decision to display the Bianchi Super Pista with Aerospokes and a thumb's up to Fuji's line, which offers some nice options on the performance end of the spectrum.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Aero Wheels

Recently, some good reading on the subject of aerodynamic wheels came up. I didn't really understand aerodynamic wheels until I read this post and this post by sprinterdellacasa a while back.

A few months ago, NYVelocity posted an equipment review of rental deep carbon wheels from Revolution Wheels. Using Zipps as a familiar point of reference, NYVelocity concluded, "These wheels are maybe 95% as good as Zipps, for 42% of the price. Unless you're lighting cigars with twenty dollar bills these babies are hard to beat."

A few months later, Zipp's lead engineer gave a very open interview to NYVelocity in response. It offers some interesting insight into Zipp's R&D as well as the industry's copycat process. Plus you get to learn some juicy details about ceramic bearings.

Now, another response comes from Steve Hed, who apparently wants to clarify some of the Zipp-v-Hed issues brought up in the interview with Zipp's engineer. Hed picks apart some of the claims and illustrates a chicken-or-the-egg rivalry going on between the two companies: The fact is that since Zipp acquired our patent (sometime in the late 90s) their wheels have changed shape to more closely mirror the wheels we started selling 18 years ago. We have continually improved them since then, but the underlying aero shapes are still similar. As Zipp's wheel shapes have changed to more closely resemble ours, it only follows that their wind tunnel data is more like ours too.

It's a good read for the nerds who enjoy not only technical data but industry sparring as well.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Revenge of Bear Mountain

I don't think that Bear Mountain will forgive me. When I first saw the profile of the race course through Harriman State Park (not actually all that close to Bear Mountain), I thought, "It looks pleasant, but wouldn't it be nicer if it actually had a hill or two?" When I raced it, that long, slow drag up the Tiorati climb - never particularly steep, but long enough to hurt - was kind enough to point out the error of my ways. If it wasn't clear the first time, it was more than obvious the fourth time, and I finished the race cramping badly, albeit with a decent result. It was good enough to give me some confidence for the fall incarnation of the race, and I figured that the uphill finish this time around would suit me.

The race's formal name is the Nancy Morgenstern Memorial Race, named for a local racer who died on 9/11, but I had been referring to it as Revenge of Bear Mountain. Foreshadowing? I guess that race wasn't done surprising me. Unlike the spring's social pace for the first half (or more) of the race, this weekend's race was hard from the gun and we climbed Tiorati Book Road really fast. It felt really fast, anyway. Maybe I'm not in top form. I don't care. It was fast and hard. Struggling to close gaps only ten miles into a 56 mile race? That's not good.

The second time up it we caught the Masters' field, which should be an indication that we were moving pretty quickly. Unfortunately, the overtake was a complete mess, and I wound up getting stuck behind Masters and follow vehicles as the fronts of the fields mixed and ten or so 4 riders went up the road with who-knows-how-many Masters riders. Trying to find another match to light to jump up the rest of the hill, I was nearly run off the road by a support vehicle (not to mention the two SUVs behind it, crawling up the hill), and had to settle for settling into a rotation with four or five other riders who were highly motivated by the extent to which they were pissed off at the mess that knocked them away from the front of the race.

We were almost back on when, flying through a roundabout, we all had to grab brakes and adjust our arcs to avoid a towncar that marshalls hadn't bothered to stop. There are only so many times you can be demoralized, and if they all come in the span of a few miles of very hard riding, well, their effect is exponential. When we got to the feed zone, I was frustrated, and I threw in the towel shortly thereafter (but not before grimacing, or growling, or something, for the photographer...). If I had a more thoroughly competitive spirit, I'd even have been thoroughly pissed off.

Imagine how I feel when I see the results and realize that one of my companions in the chase managed 10th place. And me thinking that half the field was still up the road. I shouldn't have dropped out. Live and learn.

It's an interesting welcome to the tail end of the season.

Friday, September 11, 2009


I took my camera to Kissena far more times than I actually used it to take some photographs this year, but since I was pulling some photos off my camera in order to add some flair to my previous post (Goodbye IRO), I figured I'd share a few that I snapped at some point this summer. May shots of a carefree summer evening to bring you warmth on a rainy September morning.

Here's my oft-mentioned buddy-teammate Al messing with Dan C.'s bike. Dan wins the award for being the least sentimental about the nicest bikes. That's the Nagasawa that he messengers on.

Gui setting up his bike. He and I are the same size, but somehow all of his bikes are much larger than mine. He rides 53-54cm bikes, and I ride 50-52cm bikes. His legs must have some extra hidden length - we both ride long but his saddles are a lot higher than mine. His Felt is a 54, mine is a 52.

I've ridden a bunch with Gui over the past year or so, and he's given lots of good advice throughout my learning process.

Shooting the breeze with Gui and Kissena's Delroy Walters, a 70+ World Champion and total track star who's always around to offer a smile, kind words, and timely advice.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Goodbye IRO

My faithful everyday bike, which hasn't really seen a whole lot of use in the past year, is going to a new home.

I got this bike in 2005. Prior to that, I had a junky fixed gear conversion, and wanted something a bit more held-together. It was the first time I had bought myself something nice - other than my guitar amp. I used it to go on my first "long ride," from NYC's Chinatown to my parents' house in Bergen County, NJ. Almost twenty miles, stopping every now and then on the West Side Bike Path to tug the toestraps tighter. That ride made me decide that I wanted to be a little bit healthier, to get better at riding this bike.

Then I took it with me to live in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where it was a valuable companion in that lonely city. I used it to explore the seaside, the factories, the quiet and ramshackle neighborhoods. When my time there was up, I took it to the Bronx and discovered the fun and odd world of urban cycling. I got hit by a livery cab making a capricious u-turn underneath the elevated 2/5 on Westchester Avenue, which led me to get chewed out by a rookie cop posing tough for his partner, and hugged by the tearful, fearful, and carelss driver who was so relieved I was okay (and I was relieved that the bike was fine). I rode the Tour de Bronx and hoped that I'd be introduced to the person riding the yellow KHS. I rode Critical Mass and met the rider of the KHS. She doesn't have the KHS anymore, but a few other really nice bikes are filling up our bike room.

Soon I was swinging my leg over its handlebars for alleycat races. Some respectable finishes made me catch a racing bug that led me to get a track bike, a road bike, and a cyclocross bike - after racing the IRO on the Kissena Velodrome, taking it up and down 9W, and throwing some knobbies on it and racing it at StatenCX. Anywhere I went it took me there first.

It's gone through saddle swaps, a myriad handlebar configurations, and more wheel swaps than I can count. I think I even had matching wheels on it for a month or two. Once, in a pinch, I attached a threadless stem to its seatpost, put some bullhorns in it, and taped a bunch of cargo to this impromptu rack. I slowly and haphazardly added stickers. Spending two winters working food delivery shifts helped transform it from the pretty (if simple) thing I adored to a rugged tool that got thrown against poles, covered in snow, and rattled senseless over cobblestones. Other bikes got babied - the Pogliaghi, the Felt, the Co-Motion. And then, they too went through a similar transformation. At Fawn Grove I winced as gravel bounced all over the race course, flying off tires, not because they were slamming into my shins (though they were), but because they were slamming into my road bike's downtube. And halfway, as my body was well in the red, my head changed, and the bike had become what the IRO had become - a tool.

But with a new bike on the way, built for more specific uses, the IRO has got to go. A bike stable should keep sentimentality to a minimum, I think, and even when living space isn't at the same premium at which it used to be, the inclination toward maximum-bike ought to be curbed.

It's not the bike - it's the memories.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Head to Head with a National Champ?

One of the things that JP said earlier in the year in his shoes as the club's development director was, "You might be a sprinter with your friends but that's a lot different than being a sprinter in a race." The lesson is that you might have a sprint but in a race there's bound to be somebody bigger and stronger who can apply that pure power better than you can. Most people's best bet is to try to force a selection from which they can try to place, rather than to sprint against the whole field. The difference between a honest-to-goodness sprinter and someone who can occasionally sprint became obvious to me this weekend at the track, my first time out as a Cat 3. Unfortunately, only two other 1/2/3 riders had registered. One of them threw down the track's fastest Kilo time at Opening Weekend in April and a few weeks ago at the State Championships. The other is a Master's National Champion in the match sprint.

Oh well.

I had been hoping that a small field would be combined with others so that we could race some mass-start races, but it was only to be a handful of match sprints.

Oh well.

What played out "sprinting against" Andrew Lacorte reminded me of a scene from The Wire, when McNulty, roughly handled by bosses, and his partner Bunk are working their way toward getting belly-up at a bar. "You know why I respect you, Bunk? Because when it came time for you to screw me, you were very gentle." Bunk - as drunk or drunker than McNulty - replies, "I knew it was your first time. I wanted it to be special." Lacorte wouldn't let me slip away when I hammered from the whistle, so we danced around a little bit, kept the pace high, and when I started sprinting, he just held me on his rear wheel, increasing the pace deftly. He didn't ride away from me, which was either gentlemanly, or kid-glove treatment. Maybe both.

Later, in a 3-up sprint, I drilled it from the line as Colin tucked behind Lacorte, hoping that he would tire. Interested in an even playing field, I was trying to give Colin a fighting chance, which he had, though Lacorte held him off when they started sprinting in earnest (at this point, well ahead of me).

Afterward, Colin paid me a nice compliment. "When I was trying to come around him his arms were shaking. He looked tired at that point." Lacorte, overhearing this, responded, "That's a tactic." Maybe, but leading your competition to believe that fatigue is not fatigue, but a tactic - that's a tactic, too.

I made third place look easy yesterday, and besides, I got a chance to top off the tan line on my thighs.

And even though it was probably a stretch to say that I raced against Lacorte, it's still pretty cool to go head-to-head against a National Champion.

Photos linked from Mike Mahesh's blog.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Twilight Series Win

I try to keep 'race reports' brief to avoid boring teammates, friends, and family members. I also try, by and large, to avoid making them the subject of this blog. I enjoy reading other people's stories from their races, and I enjoy writing about races I've done, but it's not my intended focus for this blog.

So you'll have to forgive me for my last post, on last week's scratch race out at the velodrome. It's got a fairly high word:distance ratio, considering that the race was under two miles (if you've ever wanted just the meat and potatoes, as it were, of a bike race...).

But it was an important race: winning it made me win the evening's omnium, which clinched my victory in the 2009 Twilight Series. I also won the remaining points I needed to upgrade to Cat 3 on the track.

I was nervous going into the night's races, knowing that first place could either be won or lost. For the past month I'd raced knowing that winning was within my reach, as long as I didn't give up too much ground to my nearest competitors. But instead of giving up ground, I looked at the schedule of races, said to my teammate Al, "I need to win this scratch race," and I won the scratch race. And won the Twilight Series.

Like I said before - no victory salute when I crossed the line, but it feels pretty good.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

8/27 Scratch Race

The Twilight Series is over. Long live the Twilight Series. I love having a night of track racing each week but by the end of the season it gets hard and exhausting. Add some internal pressure - I really wanted to win the scratch race. I really, really wanted to win the last omnium of the regular season. That Big John upgraded to a 3 made it a little easier, but there are some definite powerhouses. Giancarlo Bianchi of WS United is a particular racer to watch and to fear. In the second half of the season he's done very well and makes the races very fast and very hard with some devastating attacks that usually wind up with him riding away from the field. To wit, the 8/12 feature race.

Some sleek, lean new rider I'd never seen before went off the front immediately, opened a quarter lap gap, and stayed there, and a lap later I was monitoring a concerted chase from three wheels back. When the rider was reeled in there was a bit of cat-and-mousing on the front, some accelerations, but I watched for Giancarlo's counterattack, and when he stood up on the inside, slightly boxed in but coming out of it, I jumped right after him.

He goes fast. I'm sprinting at 90% after him and he's holding it, flying. He looks back, sees me, accelerates, I stay on his wheel, barely, he holds up and he accelerates again, keeps trying to snap the whip as it were. The 11-rider pack is a long, thin line. He's got one more acceleration but I won't let him go. He's trying to break me and everyone else but tonight I just don't want to let him... but I'm so near the end of my rope just holding on to his wheel.

And all of a sudden, there's one lap to go, Giancarlo's attack is neutralized, and I'm three wheels back again, with the first breakaway first wheel, the guy who wouldn't let go of my wheel when I was following Giancarlo, and me. It's been hard, the pace is slow, and we're rounding turn 2 going into the headwind on the backstretch and I jump at the 200 meter mark, come around lime green, sprint through the corner in a wide lane, Austin on my hip, and enter that mushy, slow-motion high-speed headspace that I go in a sprint. And I throw my bike and win the race by a half a wheel.

I kind of wanted to put my hands in the air or something but the times I've won a race out at Kissena, I'm not elated - I'm just relieved that it's over and that I didn't screw something up. Last night I didn't screw it up - and this morning the elation comes.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Bridge

Remember during this year's Tour de France, when Armstrong jumped away from the dwindling group of B-climbers and bridged up to that yellow jersey group? All across the internet I saw a few eyebrows go up, questioning Armstrong's move as "chasing down his teammates." This reminded me of a moment at Union Vale, when I launched an attack, bridged up to another rider, and together we worked very hard to bridge up to a two-man break that had been out of sight. One of those to whom we eventually bridged was a teammate. His companion turned to me and said, "Kissena, why'd you chase your own rider down?" I looked behind me. The peloton was out of sight. "That's a bridge, not a chase."

Now, I'm careful not to go overboard with comparisons to pros, because we're not comparable. Our strengths and abilities are so incomparable that the tactics, though similar, are by no means the same. However: bridging is not chasing. Bridging is bringing another motivated rider to a threatening breakaway, and adding motivation to the breakaway.

Bridging is an important tactic that I don't see enough of in Cat 4 racing. I see attacks and I see chases. Attacks, of course, force the pace, hit the field a bit, and test the attacker's ability to gain a lead and hold it. The chase says, "No!" A chase is great if there are primes or points on the line, or if you don't like the composition of the break, or if your sprinter is the shiznitabam. But if you don't have a reason for it, chasing tows people who aren't contributing to the making-things-happen part of the race.

And screw those dudes.

Next time, don't chase. Bridge. Make everybody work. See what can happen. Chances are good that you're not one of the four guys in the field who could win in a sprint. Why not try to bridge up and be in a breakaway that sticks? Can we all agree that the best chances that most of us have of winning are in breakaways, and we should all try to make them happen? That we have to make the race hard, that we have to go hard, and that it's more fun like that anyway?


And, for God's sake, if I have just bridged up to you - in a road race, track race, whatever - do not immediately swing off and expect me to "pull through." That is just ridiculous. Give a fellah a second to recover, okay?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Kissena riders at Masters National Champions!

The news broke recently that regulars at our humble velodrome have represented well at the Master's National Champships.

Andrew "Cupcake" LaCorte defended his stars and stripes in the Men's 35-39 Sprint.

Christine D'Ercole won gold in the Women's 35-39 Sprint.

And Alex Farioletti, who's out in LA receiving intensive training as part of a Gatorade-sponsored reality TV show, took silver in the Men's 30-35 Sprint; Dan Lim got 5th.

Big congrats to you three!

If, If, If

On Saturday I raced at Trexlertown. Since I'm doing well at Kissena, I figured, maybe I'd do well at Trexlertown. Maybe really well.

Maybe I could have.

If I had the 51t chainring on during the points race... if I had moved up just a little bit earlier in the scratch race... if that junior hadn't come down on me while I had the sprinter's lane in the point-a-lap... if I had qualified for the feature...

If, if, if.

Maybe I just didn't have it that day; maybe it just takes me a bit to adapt to a new kind of racing.

I was disappointed, but I'll get over it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rider Down. Help Needed.

I've seen bike people do some amazing things. No, I'm not talking about sweet wheelies, I'm talking about helping each other out. Last year, a bunch of friends were injured; people just up and gave money. "You're in a hard place, your bike is wrecked, here's a few bucks." Add it up from a few dozen friends and it gets to be a sum that's helpful in a rough spot. Maybe it won't buy a new bike, but it will help - if only in making the small day-to-day stuff easier. With some extra cash you can order food instead of trying to shop for yourself while injured. Later in the summer, one local rider was almost crushed by a truck, severely injured, and in the course of about a week, enough parts were donated to build her a bike. Let me rephrase that: everyone chipped in and gave her a bike. A shop offered an extra frame, and everybody else chimed in, offering an extra this or that, lying unused in the parts bin, and in a few days she went from having a beautiful but crushed bike to having a new one, from friends.

Wow, right?

We're doing it again. In times of trouble, when folks are in need, it's the community's responsibility to help shoulder the burden. When many shoulder it, it's hardly a weight at all.

Hell, we can even do it with a party.

Gabe - an all-around great guy, regular out at the Kissena Velodrome - has been laid up in the trauma ward in a San Francisco hospital since a run-in with a car on Thursday.

Friday night at the Wreck Room, from 7 to 11 PM, there will be bands, DJs, dancing, beer, auctions, raffles, dates, and other sweet things. Money collected from this will be sent to Gabe's parents and to his girlfriend, to help defray some of the expenses of keeping their vigil at his bedside. Housing, food, some ancillary medical expenses.

Those of you readers who are inclined to donate a few dollars to help out a stranger can do so by clicking here. Yes, it says "Gabe's Vegan Cupcake Fund." Don't be confused.

Maybe we can raise a thousand bucks. Maybe more. It's just money. But sometimes money can also be dozens or hundreds of people, from three thousand miles away, saying, "We're thinking about you and we came together because of you."

We're all pulling for you, Gabe.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thinking Big

New York City is a great place for bike racing. In the middle of the season it's pretty easy to race three or four times a week - Tuesday's Floyd Bennet Series, Wednesday at the Kissena Velodrome, Thursday up in Rockleigh, NJ, and Saturday or Sunday in Prospect Park or Central Park.

However, when we race bikes in New York City, our tires run over the same pavement over and over again. Floyd, the Parks, Grant's Tomb in the spring, Harlem in the summer. Do the guys who've been doing this for years and years get bored?

That's why it was particularly cool that Kissena's race director Charlie Issendorf managed to throw two races (1/2/3 and 3/4) on Governor's Island this summer, in seperate events. The course was a fun 1.4mile crit with two hard corners and a big sweeping bend around the southern side of the island that left people fighting for shelter from the strong winds blowing in from the harbor.

It made me think (and perhaps daydream) about other places to throw races in New York City. Of course there was StatenCX last year, down in Staten Island. I wonder if the Parks Department could be smooth-talked into allowing a whole NYC Cyclocross series - Wolf's Pond Park, Kissena Park, Alley Pond Park, Van Cortlandt, Randall's Island (how could you not?)...

What about a crit in downtown Manhattan? What about a major road race that starts on the West Side Highway or the FDR, goes over the George Washington Bridge, and sends racers on a course up the Palisades before returning to the city?

In fact, why stop there? Why not a Pro/Am stage race on the East Coast? Some mountain stages up around Lake Placed, then heading into Vermont and New Hampshire, obviously a hilltop finish on Mount Washington, some long flat stages down through Massachusettes, a time trial or two through Connecticut, and finishing with a boisterous crit in New York City.

Maybe I'm thinking a little bit too big, or too fast. Or maybe I'm a vissionary. Charlie, can you start work organizing that stage race?

Friday, August 14, 2009

No Update Today

Writing about bikes takes a backseat to worrying about a riding buddy who got into a bad bang-up with a car yesterday, while out-of-town on some summertime travels. He's currently receiving some intensive care. Scary, and I spent the day worrying until I heard some more news, but he's a damn champ.

I met him at one of the first races I ever did, and he won a prize for the best shotgunning of a beer.

Needless to say, this was not a USAC race.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mount Washington

Oh, Mount Washington.

I found this picture on VeloGoGo and was reminded once again of how badly I want to ride my bike up Mount Washington.

I've been on the mountain several times, and to the summit once - in my hiking boots when I was a teenager, which provided me with the self-congratulations necessary to scoff at those bumper stickers that read, "This Car Climbed Mount Washington." Oh yeah? Well these legs climbed it.

My aunt, cousin, and I left Lakes of the Clouds a bit earlier than the rest of our family, who were heading south along the Presidential Ridge. We left our packs by door and half-hiked, half-jogged the mile and a half up to the summit. The mountain up there is rocky and the wind blows hard; the conditions alternated between incredible views of the entire state of New Hampshire, and near white-out conditions as we became encased in cloud. When we were at the summit, the wind was strong enough to make me lose my balance once or twice. It was stunningly and terrifyingly beautiful - once I tricked myself into ignoring the buildings up there. I eventually developed a little bit of a mystically ecological side and grew to resent the buildings, the road, and anything that impinged on the pristine beauty of the spot - my own presence excluded, of course.

Now, as a cyclist, I begrudge the road less, because it offers the possibility of someday climbing the thing. It's 7.5 miles, at an average of 12% grade. Ninety minutes of crawling up a hill. It sounds awful.

Oh, and, there's a $350 registration fee. That's a barrier.

I'll tell you what: pledge me some money. Help a kid who's not exactly flush with funds raise the scratch necessary to register next year. Wish me luck with the registration. I'll have to buy a compact crank and a cassette with, like, a twenty eight. Or more. Maybe a long-cage derailleur to accommodate all of that.

Help me raise the money, and I'll do it. Okay, I'm half requesting the money tongue-in-cheek - there are better places to which to donate your extra money. But someday I'll ride my damn bike up that mountain, up that final 22% pitch.

Good luck to the jerks who are doing it this weekend. I wish I was one of you.

Photo found on

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cadence Cup

The Cadence Cup is our hometown series, so it was really exciting that in the last race, we showed up well, raced hard, and won a few prizes.

David Gardiner Garcia took the leader's jersey in the Cat 5 field. We look forward to having you in the 4's, David.

Al Barouh took 2nd in the King of the Mountains competition in the Cat 4's, wearing the polka dots on the final day since the leader, Larry Urhlass, was also wearing the overall leader's jersey, and second place Victor Lopez Polonia was wearing the green sprint leader's jersey. Al initiated the decisive break of the race that went ahead and collected important points, and held off Lopez when he bridged up to try to win more KOM points.

Yack, meanwhile, bridged up to the break during a lap for Green Jersey points; with double points on the line, he attacked the break and took the points. In the next sprint he snatched a few more, reclaiming the Green Jersey and clinching the win.

Throughout the race the rest of the team raced admirably, doing all the right things. Eloy marked Lopez when he tried to bridge up to the break during a points lap; I dogged Sniadowski a few times; and Josh and Charlie led the charge to bring back the break when the Green Jersey. When it was over, prizes were awarded, and the case of wine was hoisted. Charlie Issendorf paid us a really great compliment: "Yack wasn't the fastest sprinter, but he won the Green Jersey because of teamworks and smart tactics."

A fine finish to a fun local series.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Opinions are like...

Another NYTimes piece on cycling, this time on the Sands Street bike lane, and the comment section dissolves into one of those "Bad Bikers" sound-offs. It a tiring "blah-blah-blah-I-can't-hear-you" situation, where folks with grudges against cycling or complete streets advocacy confound a pet peeve with a public safety issue. Yes, bikers shouldn't ride on sidewalks. Yes, it's really aggraviting.

No, it is in no way comparable to the hazard posed by city streets that cater only to automobiles.

A study dropped a few months ago, about how cyclists are scofflaws; I haven't seen studies about pedestrians and I challenge any person with a grudge against bikers to ride down the bike lane on Broadway between Times Square and Herald Square and observe fewer than, say, two dozen pedestrians jaywalking and obstructing other traffic in the span of those eight blocks.

The bottom line is that mode-based orthodoxies are useless here. Almost everybody disobeys some public space law, etiquette, or right-of-way: drivers speed, blow red lights, and change lanes capriciously. Bikers lope through reds, hopefully after yielding to other traffic. And pedestrians walk where they please, when they please - they drift out into the street while waiting for lights, they walk in the bike lane, they jaywalk, they step out from between parked cars.

What's important is bringing order to the madness - prioritizing more efficient, clean, and safe forms of transportation into the center of a dense city. The notion of "complete streets" isn't about a powerful cycling lobby, it's about trying to divvy up public space so that we don't have to grab and grapple over what remains after the cars get their share.

Hopefully with that process underway, we all can start to be programmed to yield to each other a little bit more frequently, and to tolerate each other a bit more, with the knowledge that finally, we're not putting each other in danger all the damn time.

The Deer

This summer, me and the boys have spent some time in the farm country north of New York City, in the hills and valleys outside of Poughkeepsie, where there's a farm house that needs scraping and painting and strong, undermployed young folks to pay to do so, and lots of sweeping country roads for evening rides.

Tired from working and tired of training, we went out one evening for a fun ride. No spandex, no helmets, no big ring, just fun. "Can you do a 180 degree skid?" Sure! I wound up destroying my race tire. Oops.

We got into a fierce debate about aerodynamics and descending skills (aided by the post-work, pre-ride beer), so we set about articulating the rules of a contest:

1. We start from a stop atop a crest, in the same gear, and allow ourselves a single pedal stroke to clip in and gain a roughly equal momentum.
2. Drafting is allowed.
3. The winner is the person who goes the farthest.

We line up and push off and clip in and enter our best aero tucks, rolling along at seven or eight miles an hour and slowly gaining speed down down the road. We're wobbling with the low speed of it all but we pick it up until we're descending, still at unimpressive speeds, but crouching as low as we can and casting fierce looks at each other.

Three of the four of us are not satisfied with the results competition so we continue to pedal and shittalk until we come to the next part of the road that provide a good starting line, and, rolling at the same speed, begin the competition.

This time, we get up to some more speed and are flying down the road, grimacing with the effort of holding the smallest, tighest aero tucks we can conjure up.

Suddenly, Al cries out from behind me, "Dear up!" and in front of me, William yells out, "Gear up? WE SAID NO SHIFTING OR PEDALING!" but before he completes his sentence, a deer runs out from the woods next to the road, across our line, practically brushing William's nose.

If his tuck was a hair more aerodynamic he'd have run smack into its flank, into the fury of its lanky legs and sharp hooves. Instead it clattered off to the road and disappeared into the underbrush on the far side of the road as we, wide eyed, sat up on our bikes.

A sphincter-clenching moment, to be sure.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Racing again

Last night, I rode home from the track via an unusual route, to continue my conversation with a teammate. We turned down Metropolitan Ave and I reminisced about a race, three years ago, from Kissena to a bar after some track racing. I was riding my Pogliaghi, wickedly undergeared, flying in a pack down Metropolitan. At one point, I was dropped by the pack I was in, and eased up as I came to a large intersection, predicting that the light would change out of my favor. A rider tore by and yelled, "C'mon c'mon c'mon!" and we made the light, I recovered my motivation, and we caught back on. It's a reminder that sometimes it's small encouragements that make you find that last bit of strength.

This time, on Metropolitan, my teammate and I gripped our bars, gritted our teeth, and toughed out a mile or two of hellishly rough roads, torn up in prep for repaving. I tried to think of a pun combining tracks or velodromes and Paris-Roubaix, but came up short.

I blame those miles of asspounding on a stiff, aluminum track bike for the state of my backside today. That, and the humidity and the sweat and the chafing makes me wonder if some how, undected, a nemesis slipped sandpaper into my bibs.

Nonetheless I agreed to accompany Al to">Rockleigh