Monday, June 22, 2009

Weekly Update - The Heat, training, and Lance

Weather had been crap for the first week after getting back from San Francisco. Rain, storms, sticky air. Miserable. I rode into work last Wednesday, only commute #12 on the year. When I left my house in the morning, it was 75 degrees with 94% humidity.
The ride home that afternoon was about 20 degrees hotter but nowhere near as humid. Still hot and miserable. The hair-drying-in-the-face wind was lovely to.
Hit up Joe's BBQ on Saturday. Rain came through but blew over just in time for the outdoor festivities. I only got in about 1hour on the MTB(paved trail/gravel road only) so I tried to make up for that on Sunday. Got in a solid 3 hours on the road bike and included 3 laps around Lake Quivera (Holiday Drive, up Quivera Rd to Johnson Drive, Johnson Drive west to Renner, North on Renner back to Holiday). Plenty of climbing on this loop. Nice and hot since I was out there at Noon. I managed to get the first 2 hours in with one bottle, but the last hour involved riding from one drinking fountain to the next. I might need to start some indoor workouts. Hard to get any high-HR stuff going in this heat.

Warning: the following is simply my opinion!
Lance winning Nevada City! Why race the Tour de Suisse with the rest of your Astana team and prepare for the Tour when you can stay in the U.S and beat some domestic pro's. He isn't expected to be a factor at the Tour anyway (my opinion), but he keeps dragging Levi to these U.S. races, when Levi should be in Europe. I'm guessing Levi will now NOT be a factor at the Tour either because of this. My prediction is that the Tour winner is in Europe now and recently done one of the more-traditional Tour prep races like the Dauphine, Swiss Tour, ect. Of course there is something financial going on here. Most of those 20,000+ fans would not have been there if Lance wasn't there. Almost as bad as ProTour riders skipping ProTour races in Europe to race small races in the U.S., Ben Jacques-Maynes got 2nd behind Lance and ahead of Levi. I'm sure come December, we'll see Ben take his Pro Road/Cyclocross hat off for a day, and somehow race (and probably win) the AMATURE Masters class at 'cross Nationals.
That's the end of my opinion.

Heat Advisory all this week is nice. With the SMP trails finally open, I've been desperately trying to get my MTB tech skills back on par. Been a few weeks so i'm very rusty. Been out there the last two nights and it's been a steam bath in there. That place seems to get rockier and rockier every time i ride there, or maybe that's just me and/or the hardtail and/or the heat. Hmmmm.
Went out there again last night (before the big storm came through) and finally got some good technical speed work in. The Niner is a handfull at slow speed but as long as you keep it pinned, things tend to smooth out a bit. After the rain I figured the trails would be closed today, so it was commute #13 today.

Monday, June 15, 2009

San Francisco

Nice to inhale some cool Pacific Coast air for a change. Flew out on Thursday afternoon into Oakland. Kicked it with Kristine's parents Rich and Carrol, and her brother Craig and his wife Kirsten. Friday we did a fantastic wine-tasting tour of Napa Valley. Saturday was the big BBQ at Craig & Kirsten's house. Lots of family members on Kristine's side that I hadn't met before. Everybody was great.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Going back to Cali , week in review, SMP deer problem

Heading to San Francisco later today for a weekend with family. MTB trails are a disaster here anyway and ME riding the road is a disaster. 4 days off will be good. I have 8 straight days of riding in since I landed back in the U.S. Only 1 commute in last week (#11 on the year :-( ) and none this week. Tuesday Nite Crit Practice was rain free but the pavement was still wet in spots. Very sketchy, guys barging up between other guys, half-wheeling, then indexing though turns. Very stupid. Then the car on course on the bell-lap between turns 3 and 4. If it was stupid before this, it was mega-stupid now. More than a couple cool guys almost came to grief. I did it on my 'cross bike. Staying in the pack is too easy on my road bike, but i'm not strong enough really to go off the front or get into breaks, so I need to make "staying in the pack" harder. Hence the cross bike. I typically don't put out good watt spinning a low gear so tying to hang in with a 42*12 highest gear is tough. Wednesday Hill Ride was rain free, amazingly. Did OK up the first 2 climbs until guys ripped it up near the tops. I like the Woodland climb but now the course goes straight further down Renner then west on Praire Start. Never really "raced" up the Praire Star climb since I live at the top of it and should at least cool down for 60 seconds or so before rolling into my garage. What the hell, who cares. I was near the front hitting the bottom of the climb, going pretty quick. Wasn't sure how this climb played out to know really how to go at it (unlike the Woodland climb). Teammate Joe used his gravitational advantage on the downhill approach and came flying by. For whatever reason I jumped on his wheel, then realized I needed to just sit-up and shut it down. Should have stayed where I was and just drafted right up it. Anyway, lesson learned for next week.

Shawnee Mission Park Deer: As most of you know, the deer "problem" out there is pretty bad. I love deer and love to see them. The real problem is with the Parks Department's lack of making any reasonable decision years ago when this issue first came up. I've already seen the end result of all this first hand. Last week while I was riding home from work down the Millcreek paved trail, I spotted a baby deer walking right down the paved trail towards me. I stopped and it walked right up to me and past me. Couldn't have been more than a couple days old. It was barely walking and was obviously distressed. No adult deer anyway which surprised me. The little guy just walked past me, I petted it on the back and it just walked away into the bushes underneath Shawnee Mission Pkwy. I felt like crap. It's parents died or were hit by a car, or they left it to take care of there other babies, or the parents got snipered leaving a bunch of baby deer to limp around and eventually die, get hit by cars, ect. I don't have the answer to this problem, other than a decision should have been made years ago instead of dilly-dally'ing around for 4 years, just to make the same decision. Now that hunter/snipers will be out there selectively thinning out the deer population, it might be a good idea to break out my old '80's day glow riding cloths. I wouldn't recommend anything brown. I sure hope these Park Department appointed Snipers have some common sense and DON'T shoot the 2 mature deer that have 10 baby deer right behind them. I think i'd lose it if I heard of that happening, but we'll all know it's happening as we see more baby deer stumbling around by themselves.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Giro Last Stage Time Trial

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

2009 Giro di Italia Trip

WOW! What a whirlwind 2 weeks. We left on May 19th, and after lunch at TGI Fridays in Atlanta, and flying all night, arrived in Rome on May 20th with Brian (Harz) Roberts from Phoenix in tow. We proceeded to pick up “il monstro”, the giant Fiat rental van. I quick 2-hour trip to IKEA in Rome and we were off to pick up the first of 3 rental bikes, at the bike shop, La Maglia Rosa, in the beach town of Francavilla al Mare. Once we got the bike, it was off to the grocery store than up to the house. Running a bit late to get a quick ride in and we hade some cleaning of the house to do after it was closed up all Winter. Thursday I took Brian out for a 3 hour spin of the neighboring towns and up to the local cross-country ski area. Friday we got in another great 2-hour ride including the “Montazolli short-cut” which is only about 1km long, but hits 22% in spots. We then headed up to our favorite bed & breakfast in Tuscany, Villa di Sotto. Saturday we headed out for wine tasting and a tour of the Volpaia Winery. Then a tour of Brolio Castle. In the afternoon I took Brian out for 3 hours of some of my favorite Tuscany roads. We spent Sunday morning in Sienna where as most of you already know, I finally put a ring on Kristine’s finger.
Monday we drove down to Rome to pick up Scott and Katherine Elliot from Ohio. We picked up their 2 rental bikes at the bike shop and made it up to the my house in Roio del Sangro in time for a quick spin ride before dinner. Tuesday we got in a solid 4 hours of riding then heading down the valley to see the pre-Roman castle in Roccascalenga.
Wednesday we were off to go watch the Giro stage 17 in Pretoro. Pretoro is where the final 15km climb starts and we heading off to ride the climb before having a picnic back in town to watch the race come by. The stage finish was moved down the climb about 5km from the actual summit where I eventually made it up to. Several patches of deep snow and mud to contend with but I made it. Once back down to our picnic spot, the helicopters hovering just above hinting at the building drama. Once the promotional caravan was past, the race came flying by with all the favorites still bar to bar. Pellizotti eventually solo’d for the win. Lance put in a good effort to chase him down but ended up back in the field. Di Luca attacked endlessly but could never shake Menchov. We had perfect sunny skies when we rode the climb but thick fog moved over the finish area for the racers. We also saw an entire family of Cinghiale (wild bore) crossing the road just outside of Roio. 2 very-large adults with several babies in tow. There are extremely rare and not seen very often. Thursday we had a mishap with the rental van a had to spend a few hours getting a new vehicle. The new, and much smaller, rental vehicle made for an interesting ride back to Rome on Friday. Me and Kristine combined our 2 suitcases into one and left a lot of stuff at the house. We took Scott, Katherine, and Brian out for a quick sight-seeing tour of rome, including the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain before a great dinner outside in the Campo de Fiori. Saturday we heading out for the big 3: Collesium, Palitine Hill, and the Roman Forum. A quick rest and it was back out to walk over to the Vatican before dinner. Sunday we got an early start to stake out our spot near the start chute for the time trial. Easy at first, but it got harder to hold your ground once the thousands of tifosi moved in. Got great shots off everybody going off plus pics of Di Luca, Pellizotti, and Menchov coming into the final couple of KM’s. Menchov had his now-famous crash shortly thereafter. We had our last dinner Sunday night in the Piazza Navona before heading home on Monday. Endless memories, hundreds of pics, and met some amazing people.